An affidavit is a document that is used to make a written statement that is confirmed by oath or affirmation by a notary or another authorized person.
The main purpose of such a document is to let a person making a statement claim that it is true and confirm that they understand that they will be legally punished in case the statement is partly or entirely false. The punishment can be different and is generally picked by the court.
If validated properly, the document has the same effect as testification under oath. It is most commonly used to obtain testimony from a witness who cannot physically appear for the court hearing.
An individual making a statement is referred to as the deponent or affiant.
An affidavit is considered completed when the deponent signs and notarizes the document.
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There are many different types of affidavits depending on the type of statement an affiant makes. For example, a financial affidavit is used to reveal an individual’s financial situation in cases of divorce. One should use an affidavit of residency when aiming at attesting the truthfulness of an individual’s place of living and is usually made under oath. A small estate affidavit is a tool for beneficiaries to inherit real estate without going through a probate process.
There is also a specific type of affidavit called a self-proving affidavit. It is used by a testator when creating a will in case they want to help beneficiaries avoid being challenged after the testator’s death. Most of the states require this document to be witnessed by two adults and notarized.
Another specific type of affidavit is a counter-affidavit. It is used in situations where a court case is brought in a small claims court by a plaintiff in order to sue another party for money owed and a defendant thinks that the plaintiff is the one who is in default for owing money. Such an affidavit usually requires a paying certain court fee.
Despite the fact that those two types of documents ate very similar, a sworn statement is a separate type of court documents. Unlike affidavits, sworn statements are not acknowledged by a public official meaning they might be less acceptable as a form of evidence in courts.
But there is a big advantage to using sworn statements – the absence of the need to certify them saves a lot of time for parties in a trial, especially considering the fact that sworn statements are treated in a very similar manner to affidavits by courts.
It would make sense to use an affidavit in cases of:
First and foremost, an affidavit needs the affiant’s signature. It is important to not put their signature before they appear at the notary office.
Most of the cases require affidavits to be notarized. Along with a notary public, the powers of validating the document are also given to a clerk, attorney, or a court judge. Who needs to sign an affidavit depends on the type of the document and the state where it was issued.
After the document is notarized, it should be filed with the local court clerk’s office. A filing fee might be needed to process the affidavit.
However, in some cases, the affiant can go without notary acknowledgment. Then an affidavit is called a sworn affidavit. Only the affiant should sign an affidavit in such a case, and the document should include a provision stating that the information written in the affidavit is punishable by perjury if found not true. Penalty of perjury might include monetary fines, community service, and even jail time which will depend on the state. But a sworn affidavit is not the safest option as it is a notary acknowledgment that adds extra validity to the document.
Choose the affidavit type you need
Among a big variety of affidavit types, choose the one that fits your legal needs. Note that some affidavits require using a state-specific form. For example, to create an affidavit of support, Form I-864 should be used. Or, if you need an affidavit of identity theft, the Internal Revenue Service website will be of help with Form 14039.
To make sure there are no issues regarding an affidavit form you are about to use, call or visit the website of your local court to learn whether they provide affidavit templates online. Affidavit forms might be free but sometimes you would need to pay a small fee to use them.
Then, decide whether you want to write the document on your own or use an affidavit template found on the net or provided on our website. For instance, a general affidavit such as an affidavit of residence doesn’t require using a state-issued template meaning you can benefit from our free affidavit form.
Write down the facts
Speaking of witnessing affidavits, it is important for a witness writing an affidavit to include only events that happened in real life and that they saw, said, or heard. It is possible to include information that isn’t first-hand knowledge, but in such a case, an affidavit requires clear wording that this information is not first-hand.
Facts in an affidavit should be written using clear language. Vague statements that are hard to recall should be avoided from including in an affidavit. Opinionated descriptions of events are also frowned upon.
Please note that once the testimony is validated, it is impossible to change it.
Check the document with an attorney
The first category of affidavits that needs the help of a lawyer is affidavit with the testimony of a witness. It is important to seek legal help as a legal professional can help make any necessary edits or changes so the information is 100% accurate.
However, if an affidavit is made to verify the identity of a beneficiary or their residency, the deponent might go without an attorney’s help.
Validate the affidavit
When an affidavit has been crafted properly and reviewed by a legal advisor, a notary public should witness the moment of signing an affidavit. However, the notary’s task here is to only certify the validity of the signature, not the truthfulness of the statements included in the affidavit. A notary acknowledged affidavit will have a notary’s printed name and signature.
Based on the fact that affidavits are used for different purposes, you should seek a specific affidavit form for your legal needs. But speaking of a general affidavit that could be used for any topic, it will include the following information.
In the header of an affidavit, write the date of creating the document, the name of the attorney if one is involved, the name of the affiant, and the name of a notary public who is witnessing the affidavit.
In the main body, there should be specific wording about the affiant being capacitated to give sworn testimony in a written form. Generally, it implies that an affiant is of legal age and of sound mind.
Then, the statements that are sworn to be true should be written down.
In a signature section of the document, the date of notary acknowledgment and the name of the notary public should be included which should be followed by the signatures of the affiant and the notary.
If you need a proper affidavit template, use a free affidavit form provided on our website.