You may have heard the word affidavit a thousand times in newspapers and on TV. But what exactly is an affidavit? An affidavit is a sworn and written statement that carries factual information and details. An affidavit is the initial step that is taken when someone is presenting evidence in the court of law.
There are a lot of types of affidavits which people use to help them on either legal cases or in any instances where having one on-hand can be very beneficial. As a usable proof or evidence, all the information that will be placed in an affidavit form should be factual, written, and properly recorded. It is signed by an affiant – the person who swears to an affidavit, and then notarized by a notary public for affirmation.
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When Do You Use An Affidavit?
Generally, there are no written laws in the United States that provide certain or specific requirements for a person to be allowed or prohibited to become an affiant for an affidavit, just as long as what they are stating is the truth and that they are able to fully comprehend the gravity of signing an affidavit under oath. Technically, however, an affidavit – especially the ones that are involved in a litigation or a criminal proceeding – requires legal counsel. If you are a lawyer or you are in need of an affidavit, and you need it fast, you can download our free affidavit forms online. We offer a wide array of sample affidavit forms that are available at your disposal. Our forms range from General Affidavit Forms, to Guardian Fund Affidavit Forms, Marriage Affidavit Forms, and Witness Affidavit Forms.
There are a lot of reasons and instances wherein an affidavit is called for. As a matter of fact, tons of legal purpose can be enumerated wherein an affidavit is essential such as in divorce cases, in applying for a visa or a college, property litigation, debt settlement, bulk financial transfers, and many, many more.
The content of an affidavit can affect the case may it be in a positive, or negative manner. Most affidavits are highly beneficial but there are also times that its effectiveness may fail due to human actions like misinformation or data falsification. A legal case always seeks for the truth and presenting an affidavit that contains the wrong or false information is actually punishable by law. Make sure to provide correct and accurate information when making an affidavit for the following situations:
- Ownership claims for land, real estate, properties and other assets
- Verification of identity, residency, and/or name change
- Confirmation of information used for legal cases, proceedings and any other legal processes
- Receiving receipts of official, confidential and/or business documents
- Notification of death for parties concerned
Not only is an affidavit a useful legal tool, it is also a necessary form of written document in business. More often than not, a lawyer or an attorney drafts an affidavit; however, the contents of an affidavit are primarily based on the factual details that are provided by an affiant – the person who writes or declares the statements within an affidavit. The affidavit is then notarized by a notary public to authenticate its contents in order for it to be eligible for court presentation.
Ready-to-use affidavit form templates are available for download in .doc and .pdf formats. These easily accessible affidavit templates are extremely useful and handy for lawyers and attorneys or among individuals who are applying for visas or school and college admissions.
An affidavit should be provided by an affiant voluntarily. The statements that are declared by an affiant in an affidavit are considered to be statements given under oath and are used for verification purposes. As soon as an affiant affixes his signature willfully on an affidavit, it then becomes a legally binding document and any false statements incorporated in the affidavit is subject to perjury charges, which may result to penalties, community service, and even imprisonment.
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What Are the Varying Types of Affidavits?
Because an affidavit is a broad term for any type of factual, sworn, and written statements, its content and purpose can vary from time to time.There are a lot of different types of affidavits; some of the most common ones are listed and explained further below:
Affidavit of Support – An Affidavit of Support is a legal document that is created by an American sponsor for a visa applicant. This is to show that the citizen can provide confirmation to the government that a visa applicant has enough financial support and can be allowed to go to another country.
Affidavit of Death – An Affidavit of Death is especially useful or utilized in the process of notifying a company, an organization, or a government agency of a family member’s death. Sometimes notifying these agencies is necessary when claiming benefits or entitlements or when doing bank or finance transactions on behalf of a deceased family member. An Affidavit of Death should contain the name, the date of birth, and the date of death of the deceased.
Financial Affidavit – A Financial Affidavit is a type of affidavit that provides details supporting or pertaining to a person’s financial status, such as the amount of money they have on savings, the amount of salary they make each year, as well as their material assets. Financial Affidavits are oftentimes used in divorce cases when a couple decides to divide their assets and when financial support is being sought by the parent who takes care of the child.
Name Change Affidavit – People who legally change their names need to present a name change affidavit to ensure that the records that organizations and the government have are updated. An affidavit of name change contains both the previous and current names of the individual. Name change affidavits are commonly used on the following instances:
- When a woman marries and she needs to change her surname based on her husband’s
- When a person decides to have a name change after sex change operations. However, some countries and states do not honor change of name based on this situation so you need to be aware of the regulations of the location where you reside before making an affidavit of name change for this matter.
Identity Theft Affidavit – Also known as personal information theft or identification theft affidavit, this affidavit is used for the following instances:
- When a person’s identity has been used for an illegal activity that he/she is not a part of
- When a person’s identity has been used for government and/or business transactions without his/her approval
- When the identification cards or any other proof of identification of the person has been stolen
- When the person whose identification has been compromised needs to transact to government agencies and other organizations
- When the person whose identity has been used in a manner that he/she is unaware of needs to conduct business and other financial transactions
- When the person decides to get new identification cards based on what has been stolen from him/her
Affidavit for Small Estates – These types of affidavits provides the legal consent for an individual or a family member of a deceased person to appoint or distribute any assets that have been left behind in the event when the deceased person has not left a will.
Affidavit for Proof of Residency – An Affidavit of Residency is a written document that attests or confirms the area of a person’s residency. This is especially useful when a parent needs to verify their address in order for their child to attend the local school or when an employee is required to submit one for tax purposes.
What Should Be Included in an Affidavit?
Generally, different types of affidavits call for different details to be constituted into it because they all require different types of information. However, affidavits do have basic details that need to be incorporated within all of them in order to make them legally binding, such as:
- The complete name of the affiant
- The complete address of the affiant
- The detailed facts and reasons for the affidavit
- The signature of the affiant
- The date signed
- The signature of the notary public
- Other details required by court or by a third party
- Remember that an affidavit serves as evidence; therefore, what you state in an affidavit should be true to the best of your knowledge, should only contain facts, should be relevant to your case, and should be nothing else but the truth. If the judge deems your affidavit to contain false or misleading information, then the evidence presented will not be accepted.
Because affidavits are presumably sworn statements of facts, phrases such as “I believe that,” or “I think that,” should not be used or incorporated into it. Opinions are only allowed to be provided by experts who have been called to witness, such as a mental health professional.
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How Do I Create an Affidavit?
Creating an affidavit is a big responsibility as you need to be accurate with the things that you will state and sworn by. It is essential for you to consider the following when making an affidavit:
- Know the purpose of the creation of the affidavit.
- Seek help from professionals whose expertise are relevant to the case that you would like to resolve.
- Get advice from attorneys when making and putting together the content of the affidavit.
- Ensure that you have a legal counsel who can help you draft the affidavit.
- Browse through templates and samples of affidavits that are similar to what you would like to have so you can have references.
Some of the tips that you may incorporate when you are already ready to prepare an affidavit are as follows:
1. Always be Familiar or Aware with the Case Identification Number – A case identification number is commonly seen on the upper right part of the affidavit. On this corner, you can also see the date when the affidavit has been made. Knowing your case identification number allows you and other entities to be aware that the affidavit is legal and formally created.
2. Be specific when stating names – The names of the individuals who are involved in the case that you are addressing should be presented in the affidavit accordingly. Doing this can make statements clearer and the entire document more usable and relevant.
3. Provide the Written and Sworn Statement – This section of the affidavit is where the affiant’s statement is then written down. If the affiant is quoting something that another part said, be sure to include the name of that person and the date (or the estimated date) for when it was said.
If you wish to include information that you do not have first-hand knowledge of, you can include it in the affidavit; however, the source of information should also be specified such as the name of the person who told you, when they told you, and why you believe it to be true.
4. Have a Statement of Affirmation – A statement of affirmation is the clause of the affidavit that puts the affiant under oath. If the affiant supplies information within the affidavit that is not true, the declarant can then be subject to a perjury case. An example of a statement of affirmation is as follows:
I, John Smith, hereby certify, under penalty of perjury, that the above-stated facts are true and correct to the best of my knowledge.
5. Let the Affiant and the Witness Affix Their Signatures – Right below the affidavit, the names of the affiant and the witnesses should be stated along with their signatures. Witnesses to an affidavit may be a notary public or an official commissioner.
When preparing an affidavit, the writer should remember the following key principles to make sure that the document looks, sounds, and appears legitimate as it can be. If you are a lawyer, you might want to take note of the following tips:
1. Be sure to maintain utter professionalism in your affidavits. Keep it brief and do not include any melodramatic or inflammatory words that could affect you or the affiants’ names professionally or legally.
2. Double-check your grammar and your spelling to make sure that it is free of any errors. An affidavit that is brimming with grammar and pronunciation mistakes may cause a negative impact on your credibility.
3. Affidavits can be a drag and a bore to read, which makes it easier for people who are reading them to miss phrases or key sentences. Be sure to keep your affidavit clear and organized by providing heading or bullet points as well as using plain and short sentences to make sure that not one detail gets missed out.
4. Proofread your affidavit to make sure that you have provided the exact and accurate information in your affidavit. If errors are sighted especially errors related to the issuance of factual statements, be sure to draw up a new affidavit regardless if the current one has been signed or not.
Who Can Act as Legal Witness to an Affidavit?
- Notary Public
- Court Officials
You can simply make your own particular affidavit or print one of our sample affidavit forms available for download online. Be that as it may, in the event that you have any inquiries concerning the legalities of an affidavit, you may look for legitimate insight at your local legal aid office, community legal counsels, or a private law office.
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