Affidavits, or notarized sworn statements, are used to swear that any written statement or fact is legally valid. You can use an affidavit for many reasons, such as to claim someone was born, to state an item was given as a gift, or as evidence in court.
Types of Affidavits
There are numerous affidavits, all specific to why they’re being used. Listed below are several different types of affidavits with free, customizable legal templates:
Formally records the transfer of a gift of significant value and clearly documents the giver’s wilful donation — distinguishing it from a loan or sale.
It certifies a deceased person’s estate is below a certain value and is used for the purpose of quickly distributing their property to beneficiaries.
Used to attest to the delivery of important documents by a process server, including the date, time, and manner the documents were served to the recipient.
Used to verify the primary place of residence of a deceased person, in order to effectively transfer stock ownership and other securities.
Used to confirm the financial information detailed in the document is reflective of the signer’s financial affairs and gives a court or other party an accurate look into their finances.
Used to confirm that a property seller has a true title to the property. Also, it guarantees the property isn’t being sold to someone else, has no liens against it, and the seller isn’t undergoing bankruptcy.
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 accurate.
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.
➔ Related: How to Write an Affidavit
Difference Between an Affidavit and Sworn Statement
A sworn statement, also known as a sworn declaration, is similar to an affidavit because 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 significant 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 prefer a notarized affidavit rather than a simple sworn statement. However, having a written statement certified and 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.
Think of an affidavit as an out-of-court written testimony swearing you’re telling “the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
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 Write an Affidavit
Step 1 – Fill in the court case information (if applicable)
If your affidavit is used in a court case, you should fill in the document’s relevant details. This includes the following:
- Court and jurisdiction
- Plaintiff and Defendant
- Case number
Step 2 – Provide your details and your written statement
You must provide your 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 — 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 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.
The notarization process for signing an affidavit typically involves the following steps:
- Prepare the affidavit
- Contact the licensed notary public to schedule an appointment
- Present identification through a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport
- Sign the affidavit in the notary’s presence
- Take an oath or affirmation
- The notary completes the notarization
- Pay the notary fee
- Receive the notarized affidavit
It’s important to note that the specific notarization requirements and procedures may vary by jurisdiction. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult the laws and regulations of your particular jurisdiction or seek legal advice if you have any questions or concerns about the process.
Sample Affidavit Template
Below is a blank General Affidavit template for most use cases.
Definitions of Affidavit Terms
Affiant. A person making the statement and filing the document.
Commencement. A commencement identifies the party attesting to the statement.
Oath. A promise that the statements being made are true to the best of the affiant’s knowledge and belief.
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.”
Notary Public. An official state that ensures the validity of the signature and guarantees that the signature was not applied under duress.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Who Can Sign or Notarize an Affidavit?
All affidavits must be signed by the affiant and a notary.
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.
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
What Is a Statutory Declaration?
It is a legal document containing a written statement of facts about something true. Statutory declarations are sworn oaths like affidavits but are used to give facts like your identity, nationality, or marital status if you cannot show the proper documentation.
How to File an Affidavit?
Knowing how and where to file an affidavit depends entirely on the exact purpose of the affidavit. Government agencies, legal offices, financial institutions, and businesses use affidavits. Depending on the type of affidavit and intended use, you may need to file the affidavit with the appropriate district or circuit court in your county or town. Suppose you have any questions determining whether you need to file or about filing an affidavit. In that case, you can obtain information from the government agency, legal professional, or organization you are working with and create this affidavit.
Knowing how and where to file an affidavit depends entirely on the exact purpose of the affidavit. Government agencies, legal offices, financial institutions, and businesses use affidavits. Depending on the type of affidavit and intended use, you may need to file the affidavit with the appropriate district or circuit court in your county or town.
Suppose you have any questions determining whether you need to file or about filing an affidavit. In that case, you can obtain information from the government agency, legal professional, or organization you are working with and create this affidavit.