What is an X-Mark Signature?
An X-mark signature is made by a person in lieu of a signature. Due to illiteracy or disability, a person may be unable to append a full signature to a document as an attestation that he or she has reviewed and approved its contents. In order to be legally valid, the X-mark signature must be witnessed.
Understanding an X-Mark Signature
Due to the obvious potential for fraud, doubts may arise about the validity and enforceability of documents signed with X-mark signatures. In some states, the presiding law can require courts to invalidate wills signed with an X unless the testator was physically or mentally incapable of signing his or her full name.
An individual might use an X-mark signature if he or she has been injured in an accident and need to approve a legal document but cannot physically form a full signature. For example, the testator may need to grant power of attorney to a responsible party while they are being treated in a hospital. It is possible for an X-mark signature to be used to sign checks, commercial contracts and promissory notes even if the signee is not impaired physically or mentally.
Legal Challenges to X-Mark Signatures
States may require more than one witness for an X-mark signature to be valid. An X-mark signature may also need to be notarized for the document to be enforceable. In the event of a legal claim against the document, the relationship of each witness to the person signing the document may be called into question. For example, if the only witnesses to an X-mark signature are individuals who stand to benefit from a will being signed, concerns for fraud could be raised.
The mental capacity of the individual signing an X-mark signature may lead to legal challenges to the validity of the document. If the individual suffers from deficiencies that may impair their understanding of what they are signing, the document may be deemed unenforceable. This could occur if the individual suffers from dementia or other ailments that constrain their ability to comprehend the legal effects of the document.
An individual using an X-mark signature may be required to show some proof of their identity at the time the document is signed. This stipulation may be enforced regardless of the individual’s condition. Witnesses may or may not be required to provide proof of their identities. They could be required to provide their addresses and to also type or print their names. Witnesses may be summoned to court to testify regarding the signing of the document by the testator in the case of a contested will.