Definition of an Affidavit
An Affidavit is a sworn statement of fact written by deponent or an affiant under an oath taken by an officer authorized by the law.
An affidavit is generally characterized as a voluntary, written statement taken under an oath, witnessed as well as signed by an authorized official, and used for the purpose of evidence in the court.
However, since an affidavit is a legally binding document, therefore, in case the oath contains false documentation, the individual who signed it is liable to be accused of perjury.
The person who takes oath on an affidavit is called an Affiant under affiant law.
Purpose of an Affidavit
An affidavit can be utilized for a number of reasons. Most of the times, the court requires you to file an affidavit to prove that the information you’re presenting is based on facts. However, in certain cases, like in various legal proceedings, your attorney can utilize your affidavit to save you a trip to the court. In this way, an affidavit can save you a considerable amount of time as well as money.
Furthermore, you’ll automatically need an affidavit in the event you’re stuck in a judicial proceeding regarding estate planning or family. Without the utilization of an affidavit, proving the validity of various legal instruments becomes much more complicated.
Besides, an affidavit is considered to be a normal part of the official functions of banks, financial institutions, and insurance companies.
The Types of Affidavit
There are various types of affidavits required for different purposes. Here’s a complete list of a few common types of affidavits:
- Affidavit of Small Estate: allows you to handle the ‘small estate matters’ of a deceased individual who died without writing a will.
- Affidavit of Heirship: allows you to distribute the assets of a deceased individual among the right heirs.
- Affidavit of Residence: allows you to verify your residential address to establish that you live at a particular place or address.
- Affidavit of Marriage: allows you to verify your marital status for the purpose of health insurance, visa, passport etc.
- Affidavit of Name Change: allows you to change your name legally particularly in case of a marriage or divorce.
- Affidavit of Support: allows you to prove that a financially strong person will support you so that you don’t become a burden on the government, for instance, for the purpose of immigration.
- Affidavit of Death: allows you to establish that a certain individual is dead, in case, you haven’t obtained a death certificate yet.
- Financial Affidavit: allows the court to decide child support, distribution of property or any other assets in case of a divorce.
- Divorce Affidavit: An affidavit of divorce is filed if an affiant wishes to call off their marriage legally.
- Affidavit of Service: allows you to verify that you’ve delivered the specified paperwork to another individual.
- Affidavit of Identity Theft: allows you to swear regarding the unauthentic utilization of your personal information.
What not to include in an affidavit?
Since an affidavit is a representation of facts, it must not contain your own beliefs, opinions or views. Furthermore, an affidavit must not contain hearsay evidence (any evidence that is based upon the data or information received from any other individual). In case you’re relying on hearsay evidence, consult a legal expert before submitting it to the court. In addition, an affidavit must not refer to the attempts of negotiating a dispute. However, there are certain exceptions, like the presence of a consultant during the negotiation etc.
What is a Notary Affidavit?
For an affidavit to be acknowledged or to be effective, it must be signed or ‘notarized’ by a notary. ‘Notarized’ literally refers to the vow you’ve taken under an oath that the content of the affidavit is true and based on facts. ‘Notary’ is an authorized individual who’s assigned by the government to verify the statements of your affidavit in any legal proceeding. In this way, a notary affidavit is an affidavit that is signed in front of a notary, and a notary has also signed it, thereby, putting a seal on it.
Affidavit by a Witness
In case you can’t provide evidence on your own and want to rely on relevant evidence or information from a third party, like a friend or a family member, then you’re supposed to file a separate affidavit for your witness.
How legal is an Affidavit?
An Affidavit is utilized as a legal vow or promise in writing
An affidavit is a legal document that is signed and attested by a lot of individuals without even realizing that it’s a legal document. Consider a voter registration card, although it is signed by a county clerk and not by a notary, it’s still a form of an affidavit as you’re swearing that the information you’re providing is based upon facts under the ‘penalty of perjury’.
An affidavit is characterized as a legal oath in writing
An affidavit is a legal document since even straightforward actions such as changing your name require an affidavit that guarantees the legality of the request.
An affidavit is responsible for maintaining the rule of law
An affidavit is utilized to make certain that a person is held responsible for the vow he/she made regarding the data or information presented in the affidavit, thereby, binding him/her to the truthfulness of the data and maintaining the rule of law.
Where do you get an Affidavit?
There are various type of affidavits and depending upon the purpose of the affidavit, a legal affidavit can be obtained from a number of sources. Here’s a list of some common places from where you’ll be able to get the following mentioned forms:
- Judicial Council Forms used as affidavits: are usually utilized in court proceedings and can be obtained from statewide or nationwide courts.
- Local Court Forms used as affidavits: are also utilized for the purpose of legal proceedings and can be obtained from the court’s official website or court’s clerk office.
- Affidavit for Government Forms: are utilized to obtain government benefits, like tax exemption, and can be obtained from various law-making institutions.
- Affidavit for nonofficial Forms: are utilized outside court proceedings, like for the purpose of insurance, and can be obtained online or from your local law library.
Can you make your own affidavit?
No, of course not. You can write the content of your affidavit on your own but since it is a sworn document, you cannot get it termed as an affidavit without getting it attested from a notary. Without attestation, the document will merely be considered as any other paperwork.
How do you write an Affidavit? – Affidavit Format – Affidavit Sample
Here’s a complete format in order to write your own affidavit:
- Step 1: Write a title/caption
Write a catchy title for your affidavit. Write a caption that is generally utilized as a heading or H1. Write the name of the court, the title of the case, case number and names of the plaintiffs and defendants.
- Step 2: Write your introduction
Since you’re an affiant, you must write all the necessary information about yourself including your name, gender, residential address, date of birth, profession, your relation to the plaintiff.
- Step 3: Write your statement/s and number them
Write your statements in a concise and clear manner and number them accordingly. Each statement must be properly numbered and must not contain more than one point.
- Step 4: Arrange your statements
Arrange your statements in a coherent manner according to the proceeding or relevance etc. Ensure that your statements are cohesively linked to each other.
- Step 5: Use of language
Utilize first person pronoun ‘I’ following your information. Utilize simple and professional language without any spelling or grammatical mistakes.
- Step 6: Refer to other documents
Refer to supporting relevant documents such as statements, receipts, pictures etc. as ‘exhibits’ and arrange them accordingly.
- Step 7: Write a conclusion
Write a conclusion for your affidavit by writing a statement that must state that you’ve written and provided all the truthful and necessary information needed for the purpose of the case.
- Step 8: Provide an affiant’s signature block
Provide a signature block for an affiant.
- Step 9: Provide a notary’s signature block
Provide a signature block for your notary for the purpose of authentication.
How to sign an affidavit?
An affidavit must be sign by an affiant as well as a notary. Utilize the specified signature blocks for signatures.