Understanding how to write an affidavit is important for anyone involved in the worlds of business, finance, or law. Sometimes referred to as an affidavit of fact or affidavit of truth, a sworn affidavit can be used in proceedings such as divorce, child support claims, and division of estate.
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 outline a six-step approach to writing an affidavit on your own, and then define different affidavit formats and their applicable uses.
Writing 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 (person writing the affidavit)
- Sworn confirmation that the facts presented in the affidavit are true
- Additional facts related to the affidavit
- Any relevant exhibits or evidence
- A notarized signature
Here we outline an approach to writing your own affidavit, and then define different affidavit formats and their various uses:
- 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, include the case title, the names of the defendant(s) and the plaintiff(s), and the case number.
- Introduce the affiant – The next section after the title and caption is a statement of the affiant’s identity. State your name, age, gender, occupation, place of residence, and relationship to the litigant.
- Provide sworn confirmation of the facts – Before you outline the facts, you need to swear that what you’re about to report is true to the best of your knowledge. Remember, this is the written equivalent of swearing under oath in court. You may reconfirm your sworn statement at the end of your affidavit, after you’ve listed the facts.
- List the facts – This section of your affidavit should be written or typed in plain language, without embellishment or statements of personal opinion. Using the first person (“I”), simply outline the essential facts in clear, chronological order.
- 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 include relevant items.
- Have the affiant’s signature notarized – The final step is getting the affidavit 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.
Once you complete the previous steps, you’re ready to sign your affidavit in the presence of the notary. Both you and the notary will need to sign:
- Any changes or alterations made to the affidavit in the presence of the notary
- Each page of the document
- The affidavit itself
- Any exhibits or additional evidence you’ve included in your affidavit
You can also download affidavit templates for a variety of uses, and to see exactly what a completed affidavit looks like. With a template, you simply fill out the relevant details before getting the document notarized.
Affidavit Formats for Different Situations
There is a general process for writing an affidavit, but affidavits come in different formats to meet the demands of specific cases. Here are some examples of the different formats affidavits may take:
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.
If you wish to establish your right to an inheritance and speed up the distribution of the deceased person’s property to beneficiaries, you can create an affidavit of heirship. You can use an affidavit of death to close financial accounts, take ownership of property, or receive entitlements after somebody has died.
For court cases, school enrollment, and financial institutions requiring proof of residence, you may need to supply an affidavit of residence. You might also use an affidavit of identity to prove your identity to banks or other legal parties.
If you’re party to a case where another party claims not to have received service of a court notice, summons, writ, or process, you can draft an affidavit of service.
Finances & Property Transfer
A financial affidavit details your financial circumstances. An affidavit of domicile is used to transfer ownership of securities from a deceased person. To assert rightful ownership of property, you would use an affidavit of title. To prove that you’re giving property to another party without a commercial exchange, you would use a gift affidavit.
Immigration & Sponsorship
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 then becomes the immigrant’s sponsor once they become a legal permanent resident.
In the early stages of a divorce, an affidavit for child custody allows the parent in question to explain to the court why a child or children should be placed in their custody.