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Signing a Document “under seal”
Ever signed a document with the word “seal” next to the signature line in parenthesis?
Historically a document being signed under seal goes back to historical English law and their use of wax on documents to provide a seal, which helped increase chances of authenticity and made verification easier. In North Carolina, signing a document under seal was required, but as time has gone by the requirements have lapsed all the way to the present where no document is required to be signed under seal.
While no longer required by law, there are three potential benefits or drawbacks, depending on your perspective, to something being signed “under seal” in North Carolina law. The first is a presumption of consideration for documents signed under seal. Consideration can often be a major hurdle for a disputed contract, so this is valuable if anyone ever tries to contest the contract. The second reason is a longer statute of limitations for the document. Different types of legal documents have different statute of limitations, but contracts generally have a statute of limitations of three years. Documents signed under seal have a statute of limitations of ten years. The third and final benefit is when businesses are involved. It is that documents signed under seal have a presumption that the signer for a business has corporate authority. So, those little words next to your signature and name can have an impact on what exactly you are agreeing to when you sign.
If you ever need any assistance with a contract or business issue, the attorneys at Hannah Sheridan & Cochran are ready and able to help.