Understanding an affidavit is essential for anyone involved in business, finance, or law.
Sometimes referred to as an affidavit of fact, an affidavit of truth, or a sworn affidavit, this document can be used in divorce, child support claims, and estate division proceedings.
Whatever it’s being used for, an affidavit is always a written statement of fact that an individual voluntarily swears to be true.
Here we explain the meaning of an affidavit, the different formats, and their practical uses. And finally, a six-step approach to writing it.
What is an Affidavit?
An affidavit is a legal commitment to telling the truth under oath, and you can be tried for perjury in court if you lie on it.
While many affidavits exist, general affidavits are used alongside witness statements to verify relevant information during court proceedings.
For quick reference, a signed affidavit form must include the following:
- Affiant: the individual signing the document and swearing the information is valid.
- Affirmation: a written statement of events exactly as they happened and that the affiant believes is true.
- Witnesses: impartial third parties formally certifying they were present when the affiant signed the affidavit.
- A penalty of perjury: a statement declaring that the affiant can be tried in court if their testimony is proven false.
- Notary public: a public official who will sign the affidavit and authenticate the oath and affirmation of the affiant.
- Attachments: any additional documents that support the sworn testimony of the affidavit.
Types of Affidavit
There is a general process for writing an affidavit, but they come in different formats to meet the demands of specific cases. Here are some examples of the other formats affidavits may take:
Here are the following most common types:
Affidavit of Domicile
An affidavit of domicile isn’t likely to be a document you’re familiar with unless you’ve been named an executor of an estate. You’ll need this affidavit to attest that the deceased person (whose estate you’ve been named executor) lived at their declared primary residence in such an event.
This verification is needed to transfer ownership of specific properties like stocks and securities efficiently. With this document, an executor can legally transfer a deceased person’s residence to the newly appointed owner.
Affidavit of Heirship
Typically used during the probate process, an affidavit of heirship verifies that someone had a familial relationship with the deceased. This helps speed up property distribution after a family member passes away.
It will also help to have one if you wish to establish your right to an inheritance and speed up the distribution of the deceased person’s property to beneficiaries.
Additionally, you can use an Affidavit of Death to close financial accounts, take ownership of property, or receive entitlements after somebody has died.
Affidavit of Marriage
An Affidavit of Marriage declares that two individuals are legally married. It provides a legal wedding record that can be used in various situations, such as immigration, insurance, and property rights.
A couple can use it instead of a lost marriage certificate. So, it is necessary for insurance issues and to apply for a visa and financial accounts.
A financial affidavit or financial disclosure affidavit is used to attest to someone’s finances. It contains all relevant information about the person’s finances, like total income, debts, and expenses.
Finances & Property Transfers
Finances & Property Transfers
Affidavit of Residence
An affidavit of residence proves that you or someone else lived at a stated address.
This type of statement is used for multiple purposes — for instance, your made-up neighbor, David, wants to enroll their child at the public school Alpha Academy while David applies for college.
He’ll need to provide this affidavit when registering his child in public school or using it for in-state tuition rates for college.
Your housing zone typically determines public school placement and tuition; an affidavit of residence is needed to verify your address.
Affidavit of Death
When individuals pass away, they often leave behind unfinished tasks that must be taken care of. With an affidavit of death, another party (usually a close friend, family member, or legal professional) can verify the deceased personal information and date of death to handle any remaining legal or financial affairs efficiently.
Affidavit of Title
This affidavit is used during real estate transactions. Unlike a quitclaim deed, the seller owns a given property and isn’t currently undergoing bankruptcy. The form must state that information if any liens are held on the property.
An affidavit of title further protects the buyer by attesting that they’re the sole recipients of the property and that no other person or party has a claim to the real estate in question.
Affidavit of Service
Unless you’ve been on the receiving end of a lawsuit, you haven’t had to deal with an affidavit of service — though you’ve likely seen someone being “served” in movies or courtroom dramas. If you’re party to a case where another party claims not to have received service of court notice, summons, writ, or process, you can draft an affidavit of service.
Process servers (someone tasked with delivering critical legal papers) use this affidavit to verify that the recipient was given relevant documents, such as an official summons to appear in court due to a lawsuit.
Small Estate Affidavit
In a typical estate planning document of the probate process (when a court validates a last will), a small estate affidavit helps expedite the property distribution process of a deceased individual.
In case the estate of the deceased is below a specific value (dependent on state law), this form can quickly transfer property to beneficiaries.
Expensive items like vehicles or real estate aren’t usually included in small estate affidavits. They tend to exceed the amount the state allows and must be transferred through other means.
Affidavit of Identity
An affidavit of identity is used to verify who you claim to be. Banks or other financial institutions frequently use this affidavit to certify your identity. You may need to supply an affidavit of residence for court cases, school enrollment, and financial institutions requiring proof of residence.
Standard identification documents can be easily falsified (like a driver’s license), so they don’t have solid legal standing in court.
This sworn legal document verifies that you’ve willingly transferred property ownership to another person as a gift.
While not required in some states, a gift affidavit helps guarantee the recipient was given the property free and clear and that the donor hasn’t been wrongfully coerced into giving the property away.
Affidavit of Support
An affidavit of support is a contract signed by somebody (often a relative or prospective employer) who agrees to provide financial support for a named intending immigrant.
This person becomes the immigrant’s sponsor once they become a legal permanent resident.
To outline the details of an event for submission as evidence in a court case, you (or, more likely, a detective or police officer) would use an affidavit of witness.
A self-proving affidavit is a document, signed by you and two witnesses, that confirms that the witnesses saw you sign your will and that it’s legally valid.
How to Write an Affidavit in 6 Steps
If you need to write an affidavit to support a legal or business proceeding, you’ll need to include the following details on your statement:
- A title and a caption
- An introduction to the affiant (the person writing the affidavit)
- Sworn confirmation that the facts presented in the affidavit are true
- Additional points related to the affidavit
- Any relevant exhibits or evidence
- A notarized signature
Here we outline an approach to writing your affidavit and then define different formats and their various uses:
Step 1 – Title the affidavit and include a caption.
Start your affidavit with a title that captures what it’s about. For example, you could start with “Affidavit of,” followed by your name.
In the caption, include the name and location of the court. If there’s a court case involved, have the case title, the names of the defendant(s) and the plaintiff(s), and the case number.
Step 2 – Introduce the affiant.
After the title and caption, the next section is a statement of the affiant’s identity. State your name, age, gender, occupation, place of residence, and relationship to the litigant.
Step 3 -Provide sworn confirmation of the facts.
Before you outline the facts, you must swear that what you’re about to report is true to your knowledge. Remember, this is the written equivalent of swearing under oath in court.
After you’ve listed the facts, you may reconfirm your sworn statement at the end of your affidavit.
Step 4 – List the facts.
This section of your affidavit should be written or typed in plain language, without embellishments or statements of personal opinion. Using the first person (“I”), outline the essential facts chronologically.
Step 5 – Include any relevant exhibits.
If other documents need to be referenced, label them in a numbered sequence in your affidavit. These may include bank statements, receipts, or other documents. Only have relevant items.
Step 6 – Have the affiant’s signature that is notarized.
The final step before signing an affidavit is to get it notarized. Some state laws permit remote notarization, but most states require you to have your affidavit notarized in the physical presence of a notary public or other officer with legal authority to administer an oath.
Remember to bring some form of official identification, such as a passport or driver’s license, to prove your identity to the notary.
Step 7 – Sign your affidavit.
Once you complete the previous steps, you can sign your affidavit in the notary’s presence. Both you and the notary will need to sign the following:
- Any changes or alterations made to the document in the presence of the notary
- Each page of the document
- The affidavit itself
- Any exhibits or additional evidence you’ve included
You can also download affidavit templates for various uses and see precisely what a completed affidavit looks like. You fill out the relevant details before notarizing the document.
The Purpose of Having a Legal Affidavit
A properly written, signed, and notarized affidavit is crucial for many legal processes. So it’s essential to understand all the implications before you agree to sign one.
This document proves to be very versatile. Whether you’re verifying your address for a school application or proving you’re related to a deceased family member to receive property left in their will, you’ll find yourself using some affidavit.