At least once in your life, someone you know (or even a complete stranger) could ask you to formally attest to a fact or play witness to an event that occurred. While the thought of having any form of involvement in a civil or criminal case might seem intimidating at first, you’ll be pleased to know that affidavits are extremely simple. A General Affidavit can be useful in just about any scenario, and any competent individual can file an affidavit for whatever lawful reason. Read More
A General Affidavit contains a written statement of fact, sworn under oath, to support a claim or testify against an adverse party inside or outside of court. It’s a legal instrument that individuals and private or public entities use to save time and money while dealing with legal events. While having everything in paper might seem risky due to circumstances of fraud or forgery, the signature of the affiant and notary public provides assurance that the enclosed statements are true and accurate to the best of the affiant’s knowledge.
While all affidavits are different, there are a few points that an affiant or declarant must know when completing an affidavit. Listed below is a four-step checklist that will get you through the process.
Whether you have the opportunity to draft the affidavit from scratch or to fill out a form provided by a legal firm or government office, knowing what information goes in a specific affidavit is essential to help minimize the paperwork involved. Online sources and professional advice from the appropriate entities are always helpful to keep you informed. It also gives you enough time to clarify certain details beforehand, especially when there is a need to include case numbers and descriptions and court addresses.
The first few lines or paragraphs of your affidavit should include the affiant’s personal information. Apart from one’s full name, the document may also contain the affiant’s age and date of birth (or death), place of residence, occupancy, and other identifying information. For heirship, guardianship, and other related concerns, indicating the affiant’s relationship to the other party may be vital to your purpose.
List the facts that you want to provide the court or the receiving entity. Avoid opinions or hearsays that you don’t have the evidence to prove if questioned by higher authorities. It’s a good idea to outline this information in a numbered or bulleted format for proper organization and coherence. After which, you can verify this information by reviewing existing records and files. Conclude the affidavit by writing a sworn statement affirming the truthfulness and accuracy of your claims.
Some states have laws that permit disinterested third parties to serve as witnesses in an affidavit, with or without further acknowledgment and verification from a notary public. But even if it isn’t a custom to get the affidavit notarized in the state you are in, you can still meet with a notary for proper validation.
Although anyone can complete an affidavit, it still counts as a valid document when it’s made on a voluntary basis and verified in the presence of a disinterested witness and/or notary public. It’s important to note that the affiant or declarant testifying the information contained in the affidavit must have firsthand knowledge of these facts. And because the affidavit can play a significant role in judicial proceedings, falsification of records (if caught) may subject the affiant to financial and legal consequences.
There are several different types of affidavits used for a wide variety of purposes. From real and personal property transfers to medical testimonies, anyone can file an affidavit to declare certain facts as supplemental documentation for court cases and negotiations. Anytime you’re asked to make a statement of fact under oath, an affidavit can help you set forth your claims in writing.
An affidavit generally does not expire. It remains valid for as long as details in the document remain true and correct. However, there are instances when including a validity period is necessary, especially when temporary authority is granted to another party. Any additional terms and conditions related to the validity of the affidavit must be clearly stated in the document.
Mistakes happen. It’s not uncommon for people to overlook critical details while drafting the affidavit and only later realize that there are errors that they failed to correct before filling. There are also instances where the affiant discovers the actual truth about an event a little too late. Fortunately, you can easily withdraw your affidavit by filing another affidavit that will allow you to amend or withdraw previous claims. However, certain factors may bar you from withdrawing the affidavit, so make sure to review any statutes applicable to your case.
It’s important to note that an affidavit is not a standalone document that you can use as the main tool in negotiations and judicial proceedings. Rather, it’s merely a written declaration of a fact to help support a claim, settle a dispute, grant an authority, or testify to an argument. Supporting documentation to verify these facts are also necessary when notarizing and filing the affidavit to ensure authenticity.
General affidavits are sworn documents used to declare a fact. It can apply as a record in court, such as in criminal cases that require testimony from a witness or any reliable third party. The guidelines in this article should give you an overview of how you can draft an affidavit on your own. But if you find yourself in a complicated legal situation or dispute with another party that an affidavit may or may not address, be sure to consult a legal expert for further assistance.