Signature Stamps: A Strategy for Serving Clients with Disabilities

If estate planning is preparing for what happens when you pass away, elder law is planning for what happens if you continue to age and face all the changes that come with it.  At The Elder Care Firm, we know that acquiring a disability is often one of those changes.  Disability experts agree, if you are given the opportunity to age, you will at some point have a physical, visual, hearing, cognitive, neurological, psychiatric or other form of disability.

In fact, the largest minority group are people with disabilities and the largest (and rapidly increasing) group in the disability community is the elderly.  Currently, one out of every four adults between the ages of 65-74 has a disability.1  For those aged 75 years or older, the percentage of those with disabilities climbs to 49%.2  As such, we know that to best serve our clients we must embrace and be well-versed in how to accommodate those with disabilities.

As you age, disability can present itself in a variety of ways.  Frequently, aging individuals develop tremors or shakiness in their hands due to Parkinson’s disease, chronic illness, stroke, or brain injury.  Tremors are a concern for our clients because many know that legal services require signing a legal document.  Some worry that because they are unable to sign their names, they will be unable to complete their estate plans.  However, under the law there are other techniques available for “signing” your name.

One emerging technique is the use of a signature stamp.  A signature stamp is created with your distinct name in stamp form. You submit your name and signature to a company who makes the stamp for you.  They can be ordered and quickly shipped through websites like, usually for around $15.3  Once received, this stamp can be used to “sign” your name by pressing the stamp into ink and then onto the page.

This is allowed in many legal situations, because the term “signature” is broader than simply a hand-written, signed name.  A signature can also include a “mark” of the person, such as writing an “x” where you’re supposed to sign, or—especially in the case of an individual who is unable to hold a pen or handwrite at all—a signature stamp.4

Court cases have ruled that signature stamps may be used for diverse purposes, so long as they are not used without the owner’s permission to commit theft or fraud.5  These purposes include estate planning, notarizing, creating and recording deeds, and managing finances.6  This deviates from the rules on electronic signatures, which are not freely permitted for estate planning purposes in the state of Michigan—though some experts believe with technological convenience now valued at an all-time high, this could change.7

Investing in a signature stamp could come in handy in other areas of person’s life too.  Major banks have allowed signature stamps to be used for some time, because businesses that indorse checks multiple times a day find them to be reliable time savers.  However, some banks do suggest that the owner go to a branch to record the signature used in the stamp on the owner’s account.  Voters may also use signature stamps if they have physical disabilities when voting in the next election.8

It is important to note that there are instances where a signature stamp should not or cannot be used.  If a person tries to write a will for himself in his own handwriting—called a “holographic will”—he is required to hand-sign his name.9  A signature stamp is also not allowed in all pleadings filed with the court.10

While signature stamps are easy to use and make legal and financial processes accessible for people with disabilities, they do come with a risk.  It is essential that the stamp be stored in a safe place, such as a locked drawer, where it cannot be easily stolen.  If someone steals your signature stamp and uses it, you can go to court to recover any lost funds, but if the stamp was not stored in a reasonably safe place when it was stolen, you will weaken your ability to win in court.11 

Unfortunately, many law offices aren’t educated on meeting the needs of those with disabilities.  This problem excludes clients from being active participants in their legal and financial planning.  The Elder Care Firm fills this void by employing knowledgeable staff specifically trained to help clients with disabilities.  If you are in need of empathetic attorneys and advisors to guide you in planning for your future, please contact The Elder Care Firm at or (810) 214-3800.


Michigan Notary Public Act 238 of 2003 section 55.267-55.293

Recording Requirements Act of 1937 (as amended)

  • Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) 305 of 2000

MCL 450.839

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