Finishing Up a Business Contract
Before you sign off on a business contract, make sure that it contains everything it should and nothing it shouldn’t. Use the tips in the following list before you conclude any business agreement:
Date and sign the agreement. Date the agreement so that the parties can refer to it easily. The parties also should indicate the date they sign the agreement at the signature block. The parties don’t have to sign the agreement on the same day, but unless the contract says when it will start, the contract is effective on the date of the last signature. It’s a good idea to date the contract and then define that date as the “Effective Date.” This way there will be no confusion about the start date of the contract regardless of who signs when.
Prepare two final copies of the contract. Both parties should sign both copies, leaving each party with a signed original of the contract. Just sign the last page. You don’t need to initial every single page unless you are worried about the other party changing the “final” copy without your knowledge.
Initial any handwritten last-minute changes. If you make minor handwritten changes to the final copy before it is signed, both parties should put their initials next to the changes. This way, the parties will avoid claims that the handwritten changes are not legit.
Using fax signatures. It’s okay to sign a contract by fax, as long as neither side claims that the fax signature is a forgery. Because it’s much easier to forge faxed signatures than “blue ink” original signatures, it’s best to follow up fax signatures with originals sent by mail to each other for signature.