Affidavits are used to legally swear that any written statement or fact is true. You can use an affidavit for many reasons, such as to swear someone was born, to state an item was given as a gift, or as evidence in court.
Types of Affidavits
There are numerous types of affidavits, and all are specific to why they’re being used. Listed below are several different types of affidavits with free, customizable legal templates:
Attaching supporting documents that verify your assertion of facts is an effective way to give the court a clearer picture of the facts you’re attesting to.
You’ll likely be asked to sign an affidavit at some point in your life. Acquainting yourself with possible scenarios when you might need an affidavit will help better protect your legal rights and future.
What is an Affidavit?
An affidavit is a legal document containing a written statement sworn under oath. Affidavits are often used in court proceedings, where a statement of the facts of a matter is required. When you write an affidavit and sign it, you’re swearing under the law that the information contained in the document is true.
Affidavits are signed voluntarily in the presence of witnesses and notarized by a public official. Meeting these requirements makes affidavits legally binding and the signer risks the penalty of perjury if they lie.
Since there are many types of affidavits with different purposes, it’s important to understand what an affidavit is and what situations you might need to use one.
For your reference, a general affidavit may also be referred to as any of the following:
- Affidavit letter
- Affidavit form
- Sworn affidavit
- Statement under oath
- Notarized affidavit
- Notarized statement
- Sworn statement
Difference Between an Affidavit and Sworn Statement
A sworn statement, also known as a sworn declaration, is similar to an affidavit in the sense that it contains a statement a person swears is true. Both affidavits and sworn statements can be entered as evidence in a court proceeding. In either circumstance, the signer may be found guilty of perjury if the statement is relied upon and later found to be untrue. Both affidavits and sworn statements can be entered as evidence in a court proceeding.
One major difference between the two documents is that an affidavit is notarized by a notary public, which can give it greater credence in court. When a document is notarized, there is less chance that someone coerced a person into signing it. So in a court case where a statement of facts is required, an affidavit can be seen as more reliable.
Most courts would prefer to accept a notarized affidavit rather than a simple sworn statement. However, the extended process of having a written statement certified and then signed by a notary public or another court official can be time-consuming. A sworn statement is faster to process than an affidavit.
When is an Affidavit Used?
An affidavit is used when someone is required or asked to make a statement of fact under oath. It can be due to the party having first-hand knowledge or experience. They may also have observed an event relating to a court case.
You’ll commonly find affidavits used in the following situations:
- Court cases
- Legal summonses
- Pre-trial interrogatories during legal proceedings
- Verifying finances to a judge or bank
- Attesting to an address
- Proving a relationship with a deceased individual
- Distributing property to beneficiaries
- Purchasing land or real estate
How To Get an Affidavit
There are three main places to look when determining where to get an affidavit.
- Use our builder. Our affidavit builder will take you through all the necessary steps to make an affidavit that will stand up in court. Simply bring the completed form to a notary before signing.
- Type it yourself. Affidavits may be handwritten or typed. Typing an affidavit is generally preferred as it will keep your affidavit well organized and easy to read. Remember that an affidavit must be notarized by a notary public or other public official — regardless of whether the affidavit was written or typed.
- Hire a lawyer. If you aren’t completely confident in making an affidavit on your own, hiring a lawyer is the next best choice. A lawyer will help minimize errors on your affidavit, and they’ll be familiar with the intricacies of your state and local affidavit laws.
How To Write an Affidavit
Step 1 – Fill in the court case information (if applicable)
If your affidavit is going to be used in a court case, you should fill in the relevant court case details in the document. This includes the:
- Court and jurisdiction
- Plaintiff and Defendant
- Case number
Step 2 – Provide your personal details and your written statement
You must provide your personal details such as your name and address. Then write your statement of facts with the following guidelines:
- Avoid writing as if you’re giving an opinion — just state the facts
- Write in the first person, using “I”
- Use simple and correct grammar to express your point
- Arrange your facts in a chronological and coherent manner
- Separate your facts so it is easy to read and refer to in court
- Reference any supporting documents and mark those supporting documents as “exhibits”
Step 3 – Date and sign the document
Once you’re finished, you should fill in the date you wrote the affidavit and provide your signature.
Step 4 – Notarize the Document
Notarizing the document is the last step but the most crucial. You must take the signed affidavit to a notary public who will certify and then notarize the document. This will make it eligible to be used as evidence in court.
What an Affidavit Should Include
Affidavits typically have these three main components:
- Commencement. A commencement identifies the party attesting to the statement.
- Attestation. A clause at the end of the form affirming the location, parties, and date of signing. This may also be referred to as the “ jurat.”
- Signature. Both the signature of the author as well as all present witnesses.
Who Is the Affiant on an Affidavit?
When creating an affidavit, you may come across the term ‘affiant’. Put simply, the affiant is the person making the statement and filing the document. The affiant is expected to be of good moral character and will be found guilty of perjury if the statement is found to be false.
Who Can Sign or Notarize an Affidavit?
All affidavits must be signed before a notary public or other official authorized by law.
The notary public must first notarize the affidavit, signifying that they attest to the authenticity of the affiant’s presence and signature. They then stamp and seal the document to be filed with the appropriate agency.
There is no age requirement for an affiant when signing an affidavit. As long as an affiant is “of sound mind” and old enough to understand the significance of the oath and affirmation of facts, they may sign it.
Affidavits are legally binding. Once the document is signed, the affiant may be charged with perjury if the affidavit is found to contain false statements of fact.
Where to Notarize an Affidavit
You can get your affidavit notarized in several places:
- A notary’s office
- Your bank or other financial institution
- Shipping service providers like UPS or USPS
- Signing up for an online virtual notary service
- Hiring a traveling notary public
Does an Affidavit Have To Be Notarized?
Yes, an affidavit must be notarized according to the laws of your state. The notary public is there to ensure the validity of the signature and the affiant’s identity and guarantee that you signed the affidavit without being coerced.
Below is an Affidavit template you can use for general purposes. To start creating your own, you can download one of our free templates (Word & PDF) or use our document builder to create a custom form.
|IN THE __________ [Court and jurisdiction]|
|Case No. ____________________|
State of __________
County of __________
I, ___________, of __________, __________, __________ __________ [Address] do hereby swear under oath that:
Under penalty of perjury, I hereby declare and affirm that the above stated facts, to the best of my knowledge, are true and correct.
DATED this ___ day of ___________, 20___
|State of __________||)|
|County of __________||)|
The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this _______ day of __________________, 20_____, by the undersigned, __________, who is personally known to me or satisfactorily proven to me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the within instrument.
My Commission Expires: ________________
How To File an Affidavit
Knowing how to file an affidavit depends entirely on the exact purpose of the affidavit. Various government agencies, legal offices, and businesses use affidavits. So you need to get information from the relevant organizations to file the document.
Lying on an Affidavit
Lying on an affidavit is a serious offense — one that could land you in court. Even swearing to a statement that you’re mistaken on can have severe repercussions.
- Penalty of perjury. When swearing on an affidavit, you declare that the information contained within the affidavit is true (to the best of your knowledge). Perjury can lead to mandatory community service, fines, or jail time.
- Unreliable evidence. If you lie on an affidavit, you risk having your statement deemed unreliable and inadmissible as evidence in court. False statements of fact could ultimately lead to a drawn-out legal process and adverse outcomes for the case.
- Diminished moral character. Affidavits are used to swear to the truth. When it’s discovered that you’ve lied, or it becomes clear you’ve omitted the truth, your moral character is questioned and documented. The court will record your behavior as untrustworthy, which puts legal settlements, decisions, or other rulings at risk of being compromised.
- Financial sanctions. In cases where an affidavit attests to financial matters, courts may impose a wide array of financial sanctions due to your deceitfulness.