Tips for how to sign your deed correctly
In this article we include useful information to help you confirm you are signing your deed correctly.
Because this article contains legal information and not legal advice, if you are unsure of anything, be sure to get legal advice.
Further, it's never a good idea to simply guess what should go into any part of a deed, because if you get it wrong, your deed may not be legally enforceable.
In addition to signature blocks, there are other elements in the mix to make sure your deed is in a legally valid format, but they aren't the focus of this article.
So, if you are after a specific answer about signing a deed correctly, feel free to jump ahead.
If you prefer a quick video summary, check our 22 second summary below and get the downloads at the bottom of this article.
Now, onto the text that appears above the signature block...
First, we'll start off with what a valid deed looks like. A deed must be:
The words above appear together as “signed, sealed and delivered” above the signature blocks at the end of your legal document.
As one of the requirements above is that your deed appears on paper, you should never rely on a deed that has been prepared to be signed digitally e.g. via Hellosign or Docusign or have a witness do this either.
You may be interested in this fun little fact: In addition to paper, the Courts also accept parchment or vellum - both are made from untanned skins of animals like sheep, calves and goats. . Now that’s a good indicator of how long these laws have been around for!
A seal is a wax, wafer seal, rubber stamp or other mark that acts as a seal.
While the “ sealed” part is generally considered dated and not many companies have a seal, now certain words used in the deed take the place of a seal.
Also, while in New South Wales it is enough to use the words “executed as a deed”, to meet the requirements of all other Australian states, it’s better to use “signed, sealed and delivered”.
And if you don't use those words, your document may not be classified as a deed.
Practically, to deliver means that you intend to be bound by the deed you’ve executed.
Also, a deed takes generally effect from the time it is delivered rather than the date of its signature if there is no other statement to indicate otherwise.
So, here’s an example of an exception; a counterpart clause that overrides the assumption that the deed will take immediate effect on delivery:“This deed may be executed in any number of counterparts and, if so, the counterparts taken together will constitute a fully executed deed”
Your signature must be witnessed.
While in the state of Victoria, there is no requirement for a witness, its best to stick to witnessing whatever state you are in, just in case you decide to repurpose your deed for an interstate transaction.Also, your witness should be 18 or older and not a party to the deed.
Your signature block on a deed will look different depending on whether you are signing as an individual or a company.
Below we have included what the signature blocks for the most common business scenarios.
Also, you can download them all at the end of this article.
For 2 or more directors or if you have 1 director and 1 secretary, your signature block will looks like this:
And for a sole director who is also a company’s secretary, your signature block will looks like this:
You should always have either the original or a certified copy of the trust deed to make sure that the signing trustee party is correctly classified as a trustee.
Below are the signature blocks for a trustee.
Here's the signature block for a corporate trustee with 2 or more directors or a director and a secretary:
Here's the signature block for a corporate trustee with a sole director that is also the secretary:
If you follow the above tips, you are reducing any risk that your deed will not be enforceable.
So here are the key points to remember when signing a deed:
Do you need help from an Australian business lawyer for startups? Contact us today for help on firstname.lastname@example.org or 1300 478 278 Australia wide or on +61 2 9151 7233 from overseas. We are always glad to help.
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