How to sign your Australian deed correctly
Updated: 9 February 2021
Below is some useful information to help you sign your deed correctly.
Because this article contains legal information and not legal advice, if you are unsure of anything in this article for your particular situation, 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.
In a hurry? Jump ahead.
If you prefer a quick video summary, check our 22 second summary below.
Now, onto the text that appears above the signature block...
1. Signed, sealed and delivered
First, we'll start off with what a valid deed looks like. A deed must be:
- on paper (yes that’s right, not a digital copy);
- sealed; and
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 use a deed that has been prepared to be signed digitally e.g. via Hellosign or Docusign or have a witness do this either.
3. The meaning of sealed
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.
4. How do you deliver 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”
5. Getting your signature witnessed
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.
6. What should the signature blocks look like?
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.
Signing a deed as an individual (or sole trader)
Signing a deed as a company
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:
Signing a deed as a trustee
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:
- Your deed should read “signed, sealed and delivered” above the signature block;
- Be sure to use the correct signature block for an individual or company;
- Use paper. Don’t prepare your deed to be digitally signed OR digitally witnessed; and
- Your witness must be 18 or older and not a party to the deed.