How Do I Sign Company Documents?

Um…with a pen?

Seriously, though.  It sounds simple, but you should consider the implications of how you sign documents on behalf of your company.  As a business owner you have a split personality.  In any situation, you will be either Jane Doe The Individual or Jane Doe The Business Owner.  Before you sign something that involves your company, think about the role you’re playing.  If you simply sign your name, the party on the other side, namely a creditor, will try to pierce the corporate veil and come after your personal assets.

As a simple yet effective way of helping prove you are consistently treating your company as a separate legal entity, you should sign documents binding the company like this:

Jane Doe, as [Title] of [Company, Entity Type]

example: Jane Doe, as Managing Member of ABC Supplies, LLC

Let’s break down the components.

Title: It’s important that you convey your authority to bind the company and drive home the fact that you’re signing as Jane Doe The Business Owner and not as Jane Doe The Individual.

Company Name:  Including the company name ensures the party on the other side of the document knows they’re dealing with the company and not you as an individual.  Stating the company name in the signature line also solves the problem presented by many reused boilerplate contracts that aren’t properly proofread and actually have a different company’s name in the body of the document.  (Yes, I’ve seen those.  Read all documents carefully before signing them, but that’s another blog post.)

Entity: Be sure to include the type of entity, whether it’s a corporation (Inc.) or a limited liability company (LLC) because that is the proper way of addressing your company.  Also, it minimizes the risk of misunderstanding.  This is especially important if your company name is your own name.

If the document involves a creditor, follow these steps to help ensure the creditor has no reason to hold you personally liable for the obligation created by the document.

Even if the signature line provided in the document doesn’t ask for this information, handwrite it.

So there you go.  Another lawyer taking something very simple and complicating the heck out of it.