Electronic Signatures on Court Documents

E-filing is now required by many of the courts in California; e-filing is required by the court in Los Angeles.  My probate clients are currently able to sign almost all of their documents electronically.  One of the most prominent exceptions to this new rule is that Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration must have an original signature.  The California Rules of Court for 2018 lay out when e-signatures are accepted.

Rule 2.257. Requirements for signatures on documents

(a) Documents signed under penalty of perjury

When a document to be filed electronically provides for a signature under penalty of perjury of any person, the document is deemed to have been signed by that person if filed electronically provided that either of the following conditions is satisfied:

(1)1pixelThe declarant has signed the document using a computer or other technology in accordance with procedures, standards, and guidelines established by the Judicial Council; or

(2)1pixelThe declarant, before filing, has physically signed a printed form of the document. By electronically filing the document, the electronic filer certifies that the original, signed document is available for inspection and copying at the request of the court or any other party. In the event this second method of submitting documents electronically under penalty of perjury is used, the following conditions apply:

(A)1pixelAt any time after the electronic version of the document is filed, any party may serve a demand for production of the original signed document. The demand must be served on all other parties but need not be filed with the court.

(B)1pixelWithin five days of service of the demand under (A), the party or other person on whom the demand is made must make the original signed document available for inspection and copying by all other parties.

(C)1pixelAt any time after the electronic version of the document is filed, the court may order the filing party or other person to produce the original signed document in court for inspection and copying by the court. The order must specify the date, time, and place for the production and must be served on all parties.

(D)1pixelNotwithstanding (A)–(C), local child support agencies may maintain original, signed pleadings by way of an electronic copy in the statewide automated child support system and must maintain them only for the period of time stated in Government Code section 68152(a). If the local child support agency maintains an electronic copy of the original, signed pleading in the statewide automated child support system, it may destroy the paper original.

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2018; previously amended effective January 1, 2007, and July 1, 2016.)

(b) Documents not signed under penalty of perjury

If a document does not require a signature under penalty of perjury, the document is deemed signed by the party if the document is filed electronically.

(Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(c) Documents requiring signatures of opposing parties

When a document to be filed electronically, such as a stipulation, requires the signatures of opposing parties, the following procedure applies:

(1)1pixelThe party filing the document must obtain the signatures of all parties on a printed form of the document.

(2)1pixelThe party filing the document must maintain the original, signed document and must make it available for inspection and copying as provided in (a)(2) of this rule and Code of Civil Procedure section 1010.6. The court and any other party may demand production of the original signed document in the manner provided in (a)(2)(A–C).

(3)1pixelBy electronically filing the document, the electronic filer indicates that all parties have signed the document and that the filer has the signed original in his or her possession.

(Subd (c) amended effective January 1, 2018; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(d) Digital signature

A party is not required to use a digital signature on an electronically filed document.

(e) Judicial signatures

If a document requires a signature by a court or a judicial officer, the document may be electronically signed in any manner permitted by law.

(Subd (e) adopted effective January 1, 2008.)

Rule 2.257 amended effective January 1, 2018; adopted as rule 2057 effective January 1, 2003; previously amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2007; previously amended effective January 1, 2008, and July 1, 2016.