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Legal advice: Signing a signature that is not your own
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Oct 11, 2008, 11:36 AM
 
I am in a unique position where I have been asked to sign a document with someone else's signature and turn it into a state agency. The reasons behind the rational for being asked is that the person needs the document turned in as soon as possible, and they work/live 3+ hours away from the place it needs to be submitted. I will have a benefit from doing this as well.

A fax/scanned copy is not acceptable.

What are the legal ramifications? Is a verbal request in this kind of situation allowable? Do I need a power of attorney?

I have until Monday to make my decision.
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 11:46 AM
 
It depends upon who might complain.
If it is a voter registration form, then nutcases and lawyers might object.
If it is a marriage license, then you are getting in too deep.
If it is something that time will prove his/her acknowledgement as in a business license that is openly engaged in by the signee, then you are probably okay.
sam who is not a lawyer
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 11:50 AM
 
I'm sure you're well aware of the fact that legal advice that you get on the Internet is worth what you pay for it.

But personally, I wouldn't do it without a Power of Attorney. And even then, I don't think you would be signing it with someone else's signature -- you'd be signing it with your own, but with the authority to act on that person's behalf.

Then again, I've never been in this situation, so what do I know.

Is there any circumstance where signing someone else's name is ever a good thing?
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 12:04 PM
 
Do not do that, there are much easier, legal ways, depending on the type of document. You could have them send you a letter saying that they authorize you (including some specifics such as address, date of birth) to sign in their stead. You can then use your own signature (in Germany, we have to add i. V. in front to make clear that it's not their signature). This may or may not work, of course.

Plus, can't they mail the document?
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Oct 11, 2008, 12:11 PM
 
Seems to me like you'd be committing fraud. Depending on the type of document, you could get into a great deal of trouble.

I wouldn't do it.
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 12:12 PM
 
Is this person decrepit or otherwise incapacitated? If not, tell them to make the 3+ hour trip. They can get there by closing time Monday. You'd even be better off helping them do that instead. Unless they live across the country.

How is it you have the form and they don't? I think the dramatis personae of Star Wars said it best; I have a bad feeling about this.
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 03:10 PM
 
Gas isn't that expensive to avoid a 3 hour drive.
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Oct 11, 2008, 03:28 PM
 
Meet half way?
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Oct 11, 2008, 03:36 PM
 
I don't understand.

That person has the whole weekend to bring you the signed document, and you can then turn it in on Monday.

Just to avoid a 3 hr trip, I wouldn't forge a signature.

-t
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 03:38 PM
 
Oh, when you say "as soon as possible", does that mean Monday or never ?

Otherwise, Fedex overnight might still be cheaper than gas - or prison

-t
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 04:22 PM
 
(fax?)
we don't have time to stop for gas
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 04:39 PM
 
Best thing would be for them to mail the signed original copy to you.

The GF and I sign credit card receipts for each other sometimes, but we have a joint bank account, so I *think* it is okay.
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Oct 11, 2008, 04:47 PM
 
I wouldn't do it. Meet them half way (literally) to get it signed or get a limited (and very specific) power of attorney. There are too may ways to get burned on this one, especially if they sign or fax something in the future to the state and some halfway-alert employee catches the difference in signatures.
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 05:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by Peter View Post
(fax?)
Hmmm.
Originally Posted by Railroader View Post
A fax/scanned copy is not acceptable.
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 06:57 PM
 
Without power of attorney, there is no way I would do it.
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 07:23 PM
 
And the fact that you "will have a benefit" does *not* sound like a good thing...

in case it comes down to getting prosecuted for some sort of fraud.

And: it's not very "unique". It's unique only to legitimate operations. Happens all the time in illegal ones.
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Oct 11, 2008, 10:11 PM
 
You'd think that after all this time we'd have something better than signatures to rely upon. Many people's signatures (including mine) could theoretically easily be forged since they just use a cursive version of their printed name. I know handwriting analysis can be used, but one would think we'd have some sort of small digital mark device we could use to embed in the signature line along with our normal signature as an extra form of verification. Did I just come up with an invention? If so, Patent Pending! (Not really right now, but I am looking into it.)

I agree that it's probably not the best thing to do. The guy could come back and try to complain if your friendship ever strains. Alternatively, you could perhaps have him sign a page and scan it, send that to you (along with a message documenting his consent for you to sign the document electronically), and if it's a form that you could fill out electronically you could insert the electronic form of his signature. That would make more sense than signing it for him.
( Last edited by Big Mac; Oct 12, 2008 at 02:40 AM. )

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Oct 11, 2008, 10:17 PM
 
I"m with the majority. Don't sign someone else's name if you don't have legal power of attorney—and even then you'd sign "FOR" the other person as their attorney in fact. Offer to buy the guy some coffee, meet half way, and deliver the documents with HIS signature. Otherwise, point out to him that there are 24/7 courier services that will take documents HE signs and deliver them across the state. This sounds like a good opportunity to go wrong in a bad way.

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Oct 11, 2008, 10:27 PM
 
No matter what legal power you've been granted, never sign THEIR name. You'd sign your name as a proxy.

It's just a bad idea in every way.
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 11:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by Love Calm Quiet View Post
And the fact that you "will have a benefit" does *not* sound like a good thing...

in case it comes down to getting prosecuted for some sort of fraud.

And: it's not very "unique". It's unique only to legitimate operations. Happens all the time in illegal ones.
The "benefit" I will get is that the charity I work for will prosper.

I can probably get a little bit more specific after having thought about it more.

There is a home we are trying to license as a group home. There is a two groups of children that need homes RIGHT NOW. One is a set of four brothers and sisters. The other two sisters.

The paperwork is a licensing application. The guy is my supervisor. He works on the north end of the state, and Tuesday he will be tied up.

The state licensing office is closed on Monday.

The document is available as a PDF download.

We are a non-profit, 100% donation-based charity and try to squeeze every penny we can.

Unfortunately, we are extremely short staffed. He is doing the work of three people. Amazingly, not a single applicant. Overall, in an organization of about 25 people, we NEED about 9 more workers.

If I sign the paperwork, here's what happens: Kids who are homeless will have homes quickly, the organization saves a lot of money that can be used to feed/house/clothe those kids.

I don't sign the paperwork: It could take up to a week or two to get licensing finalized. Kids stay homeless longer, perhaps drift away and not enter care. We spend a small fortune on travel expenses, and people who my supervisor would normally be caring for don't get his full attention.

I may drive up in my personal vehicle and get the signature I need and deliver it in person myself. about an 8 hour trip.
     
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Oct 11, 2008, 11:53 PM
 
Can you not get him to sign a statutory declaration authorising you to sign for him, then have that faxed to you?

Not sure how your system works.
     
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Oct 12, 2008, 12:14 AM
 
Fedex overnight, dude.

Still cheaper than gas.

-t
     
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Oct 12, 2008, 12:52 AM
 
I had a situation similar to this. I needed to get medical records from my time in Japan, however the hospital wouldn't accept giving my medical records out to anyone who wasn't me (for very obvious reasons). I had to fax over a signed Power of Attorney to Japan, stipulating what the situation was, and who my friend was who would be collecting the records on my behalf.

I would talk to the state agency and find out if they will accept a Power of Attorney. They should.

Isn't there something like BB you can write next to a signature if you sign your name next to someone else's printed name, to signify that you are signing the document on their behalf?
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zro
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Oct 12, 2008, 01:25 AM
 
Sounds like someone local *hint-hint* should be given this authority in the future. In the meantime obtaining a proper signature is the best course of action. It could help eliminate any delays the next time you find an urgent need to file similar paperwork if this time some shenanigans are discovered.

Besides, isn't it worth doing right?
     
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Oct 12, 2008, 07:57 AM
 
I signed for 25 shots of tequila just the other day. The CC owner was a little busy trying to find suckers to drink them. I had four.
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Oct 12, 2008, 08:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Fedex overnight, dude.

Still cheaper than gas.

-t
Won't get there on Tuesday.
     
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Oct 12, 2008, 09:06 AM
 
Sign it yourself (screw the system!). Just don't tell anyone on an Internets forum that you're doing it.
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Oct 12, 2008, 09:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader View Post
If I sign the paperwork, here's what happens: Kids who are homeless will have homes quickly, the organization saves a lot of money that can be used to feed/house/clothe those kids.
The problem is that you'd be committing a forgery, and if that is ever discovered - say, when the next application paperwork for that particular office is due, and the same guy receives it and happens to notice irregularities with the signature - and that could possibly jeapordize everything you've worked for.

If he's your superviser and you work for him, you should be legally able to sign for him in lieu (using your own name, of course) if he explicitly orders you to, no? Every company/organization I've ever been in contact with/worked for works that way - otherwise, all business matters would lie completely dormant when the boss is on vacation.
( Last edited by analogika; Oct 12, 2008 at 09:41 AM. )
     
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Oct 12, 2008, 11:07 AM
 
What Cypher said. Seriously. Get the "Mr. Soandso is authorized to sign license applications for me for the period beginning October 10, 2008 and ending October 15, 2008." authorization faxed to you. Sign YOUR NAME with "for Mr. Supervisor" underneath.

Take the forms in and talk to the license office supervisor. That will get the ball rolling. Now, have Mr. Supervisor sign exactly the same form and mail it first class to the license office. State offices handle oddness in odd ways. If you're up front about this, with a really strong reason (getting kids in homes), you'll probably do a lot better than if you cheat, even for such a good cause.

(If they balk, there's always TV news. "State office keeps kids on the street due to bureaucratic red tape!" They'd love that, wouldn't they?)

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Oct 12, 2008, 11:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
What Cypher said. Seriously. Get the "Mr. Soandso is authorized to sign license applications for me for the period beginning October 10, 2008 and ending October 15, 2008." authorization faxed to you. Sign YOUR NAME with "for Mr. Supervisor" underneath.
Thirded (as suggested before).
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Oct 12, 2008, 07:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by analogika View Post
The problem is that you'd be committing a forgery, and if that is ever discovered - say, when the next application paperwork for that particular office is due, and the same guy receives it and happens to notice irregularities with the signature - and that could possibly jeapordize everything you've worked for.
This is my secondary concern. My first is breaking the law.

Originally Posted by analogika View Post
If he's your superviser and you work for him, you should be legally able to sign for him in lieu (using your own name, of course) if he explicitly orders you to, no? Every company/organization I've ever been in contact with/worked for works that way - otherwise, all business matters would lie completely dormant when the boss is on vacation.
That's the major issue, it is not a business matter. It is a state issue. Rules are different.

Matters regarding child care in group home settings go all over the map. You'd be amazed at the contradictory rules. For example: Often, the licensing code will emphasize repeatedly that children are to be treated exactly as if in a normal home. But then we have some VERY strict rules such as, mixing valves limiting all water to 120ºF, smooth non-textured ceilings in all food prep areas, homework lighting at 50lumens, lighted exit signs as well as diagrams outside every bedroom indicating exits, 20lb. fire extinguishers in all areas with gas appliances, annually inspected fire alarm systems, designated age segregated play areas, 6 weeks of non-repeating menus planned and meeting state nutritional guidelines such as 5 vitamin A foods each week, 2 sets of sheets for each bed, outward opening outside doorways, ... and many more!!!
     
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Oct 12, 2008, 07:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
What Cypher said. Seriously. Get the "Mr. Soandso is authorized to sign license applications for me for the period beginning October 10, 2008 and ending October 15, 2008." authorization faxed to you. Sign YOUR NAME with "for Mr. Supervisor" underneath.
I think this is the route I am going to go. I'll have the supervisor fax me a release.

Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
(If they balk, there's always TV news. "State office keeps kids on the street due to bureaucratic red tape!" They'd love that, wouldn't they?)
This has "backfire in my face" written all over it.
( Last edited by Railroader; Oct 12, 2008 at 07:17 PM. )
     
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Oct 12, 2008, 08:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader View Post
This has "backfire in my face" written all over it.
Don't tell them about the TV folks. Just tell them that these kids are in trouble and need a home NOW. The sympathy angle "has a strong influence on the week minded."

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Oct 13, 2008, 01:29 AM
 
their minds must go on forever Glenn
     
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Oct 13, 2008, 01:47 AM
 
If its that important hire a courier. We do it all the time. It is more expensive than FedEx but if this organization saves that much money then the cost is justifiable.

I am surprised that given the significance of the contracts or forms someone just didn't jump in a car and get it done. 3 hours each way isn't far.

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Oct 13, 2008, 08:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
If its that important hire a courier. We do it all the time. It is more expensive than FedEx but if this organization saves that much money then the cost is justifiable.

I am surprised that given the significance of the contracts or forms someone just didn't jump in a car and get it done. 3 hours each way isn't far.
You miss the twin points of "purely charitable organization with zero money" and "completely overworked and overwhelmed staff, including the supervisor." I'd pay that sort of thing out of pocket, but I can afford $50-$100 for a really important document to get where it needs to. (My discretionary funds aren't unlimited, but instead of paying extra on the credit card, I can pay a little extra in interest next month.)

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Oct 13, 2008, 03:00 PM
 
UPDATE: The point has, for the moment, become moot. Very fortunately, another employee from the office has to come down to the city for a foster/adoption seminar tomorrow. He'll bring the signed paperwork with him, I'll meet him at the seminar, and I will drop it off at the licensing office. We are probably saving $130 in gas. Enough to feed a full group home for almost a week.

Thanks for the ideas and advice.
     
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Oct 13, 2008, 03:09 PM
 
Congrats.

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Oct 14, 2008, 08:33 AM
 
Never never do this.

It is called forgery and punishable by fine and prison term.

You never know where the document you are signing will end up and the person who is asking this from you might turn against you one day.

Like the others said signed your name in the name of.
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 09:12 AM
 
Thank goodness she cleared that up for us.
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Oct 14, 2008, 01:06 PM
 
I scan to pdf docs with sigs all the time. Once printed out I don't think anyone can tell it's a scan over an original. Much better than faxing.
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 02:38 PM
 
The proper documents was delivered to me, signed by the president of the organization, and dropped off by me to the Indiana State Dept. of Health.
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 03:30 PM
 
Well, you definitely should push for establishing proper levels of signing authorities and / or power of attorneys for your organization.

-t
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 04:05 PM
 
Have you considered tricking someone else into forging the signature?
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 04:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by RAILhead View Post
Thank goodness she cleared that up for us.
Let me start out by saying that I thought Railroader posted this comment, the similar names caused me a bit of confusion, but I still the think the point I'm going to make stands. Monique is absolutely correct, and although it varies from state to state, I believe that what she said would generally be true from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. I think most would agree: Signing someone else's name to a legal document without the proper process in place to do so would be forgery.

Now take into consideration that there is a segment of the population here that carries some hard feelings towards Railroader. I would even feel comfortable saying there are members here who actively hate him, be that rational or not. Not being judgmental here, I have no problem with the man myself, but I think it's been shown that some people here have some rather strong feelings against other members, I'm not singling RR out by any means. I would like to think people are beyond being so petty, but that's not always the case. It's happened here on our forums before where a member contacted the US Secret Service and reported a comment that, for the life of me, I still can't see how anyone could take as a threat, resulting in said poster being brought in and questioned by the Secret Service. The poster in question had made a fair share of internet enemies, and I have no doubt this report was made with glee. It's now on record that that individual was investigated for making an alleged threat against a Presidential candidate. That could conceivably come back to haunt him someday. All because the "angry young man" persona annoyed someone. Kinda scary if you think about it.

Now Railroader, unpopular with certain segments of the forum, asks for advice on whether or not it's okay to forge a signature to guarantee funding for what is no doubt a worthy cause. His intentions are good, his heart's in the right place, and despite that there are people here who would blow him in just to piss in his cheerios. Not only would there be the possibility of criminal action against RR, it would more than likely jeopardize his organization's chances of receiving future funding from this state agency.

My point is, it's all well and good to make snide and condescending comments to other members, just don't be surprised if the throw you under the bus and tear down your life for real the first chance they get. It's not without precedent. And if you feel like you have no recourse but to bend the rules to get what you need, no mater the cause, don't ask for advice on an internet forum where A) some people don't care much for you, and B) they know who you are.

I'm glad Railroader was able to get the issue resolved satisfactorily, because I was getting a bad feeling when I started reading through this thread. People can be rather spiteful, and I think we should all bear that in mind around here.

Sorry about the length- just thinking out loud, so to speak.
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Oct 14, 2008, 04:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by ThinkInsane View Post
Let me start out by saying that I thought Railroader posted this comment, the similar names caused me a bit of confusion, but I still the think the point I'm going to make stands. Monique is absolutely correct, and although it varies from state to state, I believe that what she said would generally be true from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. I think most would agree: Signing someone else's name to a legal document without the proper process in place to do so would be forgery.

Now take into consideration that there is a segment of the population here that carries some hard feelings towards Railroader. I would even feel comfortable saying there are members here who actively hate him, be that rational or not. Not being judgmental here, I have no problem with the man myself, but I think it's been shown that some people here have some rather strong feelings against other members, I'm not singling RR out by any means. I would like to think people are beyond being so petty, but that's not always the case. It's happened here on our forums before where a member contacted the US Secret Service and reported a comment that, for the life of me, I still can't see how anyone could take as a threat, resulting in said poster being brought in and questioned by the Secret Service. The poster in question had made a fair share of internet enemies, and I have no doubt this report was made with glee. It's now on record that that individual was investigated for making an alleged threat against a Presidential candidate. That could conceivably come back to haunt him someday. All because the "angry young man" persona annoyed someone. Kinda scary if you think about it.

Now Railroader, unpopular with certain segments of the forum, asks for advice on whether or not it's okay to forge a signature to guarantee funding for what is no doubt a worthy cause. His intentions are good, his heart's in the right place, and despite that there are people here who would blow him in just to piss in his cheerios. Not only would there be the possibility of criminal action against RR, ...

My point is, it's all well and good to make snide and condescending comments to other members, just don't be surprised if the throw you under the bus and tear down your life for real the first chance they get. It's not without precedent. And if you feel like you have no recourse but to bend the rules to get what you need, no mater the cause, don't ask for advice on an internet forum where A) some people don't care much for you, and B) they know who you are.

I'm glad Railroader was able to get the issue resolved satisfactorily, because I was getting a bad feeling when I started reading through this thread. People can be rather spiteful, and I think we should all bear that in mind around here.

Sorry about the length- just thinking out loud, so to speak.
Well said. If anyone has a major beef about me enough to report something, I am undeniably in the clear, as I, unlike your other mentioned (former)member, did things 100% legally. But, there are some pretty vengeful people out there. I try to follow the lawful ways of doing things in all aspects of my life, even to the extent that I am that annoying guy in the far right lane doing exactly the speed limit on the express way.

Originally Posted by Thinkinsane
it would more than likely jeopardize his organization's chances of receiving future funding from this state agency.
We are a 100% privately funded charity. We receive $0 in public money. We do not apply for any grants. We rely solely on donations from individuals, churches, and other private organizations. We actually pay money to the state to operate. Today's output to the state was $200 for the application.
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 04:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by Dakar V View Post
Have you considered tricking someone else into forging the signature?
That would probably require carbon paper. I hate carbon paper. Too messy.
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 04:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Well, you definitely should push for establishing proper levels of signing authorities and / or power of attorneys for your organization.

-t
This is the first time in their 30+ year history that something like this has come up. Hopefully our lack of manpower doesn't last too long.
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 09:17 PM
 
RobOnTheCape's suggestion bears some thought if this ever comes up again. Such documents are indistinguishable from "hand signed in ink" originals if you scan them well, and they are very easy to transmit from point to point. Scanners are cheap, too (I got an all-in-one for $85 just to have a scanner, and I love the machine!).

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Oct 14, 2008, 10:27 PM
 
I wouldn't do it without getting a lawyer involved. It just feels dangerous.
     
   
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