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Signing a business contract? Be sure it’s your company, not you personally, that will be liable

[Updated 2013-01-09]  In a business contract, your signature block should make it clear that it’s your company, not you personally, that is "signing."

(This assumes, of course, that your company is in fact a corporation, LLC, or other entity that keeps you from being personally liable. If not, that’s definitely something to bring up with your lawyer.)

Wrong:

Agreed:

John Doe                
John Doe

The simple, unadorned signature block above could result in your being held personally liable for the contract obligations.

Wrong:

Agreed:

John Doe                
John Doe, Vice President,
ABC Corporation

In the above example, including your corporate title in your printed signature line might not be enough to save you from personal liability: A court could find that your title was merely a statement of identification, and not an indication that it was ABC Corporation that was signing the contract instead of you personally.

Better:

Agreed:
ABC CORPORATION

by:  John Doe, Vice President  
      John Doe, Vice President

Ask your lawyer if you have questions about what form of signature block is appropriate for your situation.

Further reading

[ADDED 2013-01-09:]   Brian Rogers goes into detail about how various types of business entity should sign a contract in his blog post How to Sign a Contract (Jan. 8, 2013)

For more examples and tips, see my e-book, Signing a Business Contract? , an annotated checklist for business people, with tips and true stories to help you steer clear of various possible contract minefields. Learn more ….

Or even something like this:

AGREED:
DEFG Limited Partnership
    By: XYZ, LLC, general partner
        By: Jane Doe, managing member     
              Jane Doe, managing member

Further reading

(For more information, see my e-book, Signing a Business Contract? , an annotated checklist for business people, with tips and true stories to help you steer clear of various possible contract minefields. Learn more ….)

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