What does the seal on a contract mean and why? 8 Answers as of January 18, 2016

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Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
I don't know of any contract in the U.S. that requires a seal. Certain documents, such as wills, may require notarization which includes both the notary public's signature and a stamp of his/her seal of office. Notarization is little more than proof to an independent party (the notary) that the person who is signing the document is who he/she claims to be, that he/she knew the contents of the document, and that he/she intends the document to perform certain actions, such as distribution of his/her estate.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 1/18/2016
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
Possibly nothing. Maybe just there to make it look more official? Is it a notary stamp? This is opinion is solely based upon the facts presented in the inquiry. Additional facts may be important and may change the analysis. If you are uncertain, seek legal counsel.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 1/13/2016
S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
Historically seals took the place of signatures because most people, including the nobility were functionally illiterate. Later sealing a contract became a more formal way of guaranteeing the authenticity of the signatory, usually the king or some high ranking noble or government official. Today seals largely consist of someone's signature instead of an impression in wax on a document. However, the concept still retains legal significance in Pennsylvania. For example, some documents such as deeds of real estate and trust instruments require seals instead of signatures and a person who signs such a document on the line calling for a seal has, in fact, given his seal to the transaction. Additionally, contracts that are under seal (someone's signature on a line calling for their seal) have a longer statute of limitations (6 years) than do ordinary contracts (4 years).
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 1/13/2016
Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
There are two types of seals on contracts and both of them are archaic and haven't been required for decades. One type is a vestige of pre-1900 stamp taxes. Contracts were not valid unless the proper parties bought the stamps from the government and stuck them on the contract. The stamps were a percentage of the value of the contracts. The stamps on contracts were called seals. The second type is a corporate seal, which was a metal stamp which was embossed on the documents. Most people were illiterate back in the day and the corporate seal was used instead of a signature on all contracts. Later, only documents that were deemed important, such as deeds or stock certificates were only valid if they had the corporate seal impressed on them. To the best of my knowledge all US jurisdictions have abolished seal requirements in private transactions and all contracts are valid without seals of any kinds. Seals are used today to make something look fancy and important: college diplomas bear the seal of the school, state laws bear the seal of the state, awards and licenses often have some kind of seal.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 1/11/2016
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
A seal is to authenticate the contract, like having it notarized.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/11/2016
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    Seal is an old common law term. Its original meaning was the personal stamp of one of the parties. Hot wax and the stamp made the seal that authenticated the party to the document. In modern times it has the same meaning as a parties signature ant the authentication of that signature by a witness or notary public.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 1/11/2016
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Not really an estate planning question. Corporations used to have seals; most don't now.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 1/11/2016
    Arthur H. Geffen, P.C.
    Arthur H. Geffen, P.C. | Arthur Geffen
    IF it's a "Corporate Seal" designation, it's a throwback to older law that required long ago for corporations to place their "seal" on documents to validate them. No longer required in Texas. If it's a notary seal, a totally different story. Must have it.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 1/11/2016
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