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Affidavit: What Is It?

An Affidavit is a statement made voluntarily in writing. The party writing and signing the affidavit declares the facts stated in the affidavit to be true, and confirms this under oath. The affidavit needs to be signed before an office who is empowered to administer such oaths.

In plain English, you are basically saying that you swear that the statement written in the affidavit is, in fact, true.

One way to think about an affidavit is like you are testifying in court. When in court, you have to swear that "you are telling the truth and nothing but the truth," you are essentially committing to a verbal affidavit. Here, you are still making an oath, just in writing.

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What Is An Affidavit?

An affidavit is a document that is similar to an oath sworn in court. It is a written statement of fact, the accuracy of which is certified by the authorization of an official party. An affidavit form may be used in many different contexts. In business, it can be used to confirm the financial security of an individual applying for a credit card, or the financial status of a corporation. Within the judicial system, it is generally used as evidence in trials and hearings.  An affidavit form may also be used as evidence in administrative and quasi-judicial proceedings, though only happens provided that no objection is made to its use and that it is subject to cross-examination.

To make drawing up your affidavit easy, we've created a user-friendly affidavit template. This template requires that you answer questions pertaining to the three main parts of an affidavit form. These are as follows:

  • General Information About the Affiant- The person making the affidavit is officially known as the "affiant." This section requires a certain amount of information about the affiant, including full legal name, address, age, and job.
  • Affidavit Statement - It is absolutely crucial that this section be completed correctly. The affidavit statement must contain facts and only facts.

o   It should begin with the affiant stating his or her name and officially swearing to the truth of the statement that will follow: "I, John Doe, swear...." or "I, John Doe, hereby affirm..."

o   Following the opening statement, all facts must be stated in an itemized format. Each fact should have its own paragraph, and paragraphs should be numbered to allow for easy review. Be sure to include all pertinent details - addresses, names, dates, etc. Double-check to make sure you're not leaving anything out!

o   If there are supporting documents, you must organize them and label them by letter (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, etc.). Reference them by label when pertinent and attach them to the final physical document.

o   Ordinarily, the affiant would need to follow up the statement with a phrase certifying all information to be true to the best of his or her knowledge. However, our affidavit template inserts this automatically, so you don't have to worry about this part.

Signing - This section requires the signature of the affiant, the signature of a notary (who must be present at the time of the affiant's signing), the date of the affidavit's signing and the location at which the affidavit is being signed. The location does not have to be a complete address, merely the state and the county. 


Legal Considerations of an Affidavit

People sign affidavits for many different reasons, and there is a fair chance that you will sign this type of form at some point in your life.  It is also possible that you may need to produce one of these forms—for example, if you need to transfer property or provide a sworn statement to a court or other government agency.  Yet, have you ever actually thought about the legal considerations involved in this particular type of document?  There’s more to these forms than just signing a piece of paper; it is a legally binding document, so it is worthwhile to understand the legal aspects surrounding these particular forms.

To put it simply, an affidavit form is a written statement made under oath.  More specifically, the affiant, or the person signing the form, is swearing that some fact (or set of facts) is true to the best of his or her knowledge.  To put it another way, when an individual signs the form, he or she is legally attesting or swearing that the statement or statements written on the form are true.  It’s like swearing to tell the truth in a court of law before providing spoken testimony, except the affiant is making the oath in written form.

Given the legal weight of an affidavit, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind.  For one thing, each and every statement made within the document must be true; otherwise, one should not even consider signing it.  If any statements within the document are found to be incorrect, the affiant can be liable to legal consequences.  For example, if the document is presented to a judge, the signer of the document could be found guilty of perjury.  Perjury is a serious offense and could result in a fine and/or incarceration.  Thus, two parties should read the form carefully and completely:  the person producing the document and the person signing it.  The individual signing it has the most to lose, of course, if an incorrect statement is contained in the document; however, the person producing the form also won’t want to be partially responsible for perjury, so the statements made in this type of document should always be checked for correctness.

Notarization is another legal consideration pertaining to these affidavit forms.  In most cases, an affidavit is only considered legally valid if it is notarized, meaning that is must be authenticated by a licensed notary public.  This means that the affiant will need to sign the document in the presence of a notary, and the notary’s signature and stamp will need to be applied to the affidavit.  Otherwise, the legal weight of the document could be called into question.

Additionally, there is the legal consideration of the quality of document itself:  Is it written in a way that can be clearly understood?  Does it contain all of the legal language and the sections that are typical of an affidavit?  To get a better idea of how this kind of document should look and the type of language it should contain, it’s helpful to look at a sample affidavit.  It is not difficult to use an Internet search engine to find a sample affidavit or an affidavit template; for example, in Google one could conduct a search and possibly add an extension specification such as “ext:doc” or “ext:docx” or “ext:pdf” to yield a specific type of document in the results.  Viewing one or more samples can be an easy way to learn what a legally sound version of this document looks like.

Affidavits are significant documents in a society that requires people to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Whether you’re producing the document or signing one, be sure to learn as much as you can so that everyone involved can experience a satisfactory and trouble-free outcome.

Key Components of an Affidavit

If you find yourself in a situation in which you need to compose or sign an affidavit, you will definitely want to familiarize yourself with the main components of this type of document.  It is, after all, a legal document that could involve serious repercussions if any of its key components are missing or incomplete.  Whether the form is to be used for written sworn testimony in court, a health insurance verification letter, the photo page of a passport, a lease agreement or mortgage application, or even in a reference letter, it is important to ensure that all of the main sections are included.

To begin with, the document should have a title at or near the top of the first page, and this title should make it clear that it is an affidavit.  Under the title, the name of the affiant (the individual attesting to the veracity of whatever is stated in the document) should be displayed.  The names of any other parties involved should also be specified.  There may also be other identifying information contained at the top of the form, depending on the situation and the intended use of the form.

Underneath the title and identifying information will usually be the main part of the document, which contains the affirmation.  In this component of the document, the affiant will attest or swear that he or she believes a statement or statements to be true to the best of his or her knowledge.  The acknowledged statement(s) need to be as clear and detailed as possible, and most importantly, they must be fully accurate.  Otherwise, the affiant could be charged with the crime of perjury.  That’s why an affidavit is essentially an oath in written form.  Don’t be surprised to find language declaring that the affiant is acknowledging the truth of the statement(s) under penalty of perjury, fine, and/or imprisonment.  This is a normal part of an affidavit, and if the signer is indeed telling nothing but the truth, he or she should have nothing to be concerned about.  Yet another thing to look for in this section of the form is one or more “I” statements, as this part of the document should be written in first person.  To finish off this section, there may be an added statement certifying that the affiant swears or affirms that the foregoing statement(s) is/are, to the best of his or her knowledge, true and correct.

As we might expect, the document is useless if it isn’t signed by the affiant, so the next component will be a certification section.  In this section, the affiant will write his or her signature as well as the current date.  This component of the affidavit will generally also include a section for one or more witnesses to sign and date the document.  Including one or more witnesses is a useful practice as it can enhance the legal validity of the document.

The final component, which is intended to add even more legal validity to the affidavit, is the section typically reserved for a licensed notary public.  In this section, the notary will affirm that the affiant has voluntarily signed the document in the notary’s presence.  This part of the form should have room for the notary to sign, date, and stamp the document.

All of these components can be seen on just about any free affidavit form downloaded from the Internet.  Try entering the keywords “free affidavit form” into the search box of Bing, Google, Yahoo, or any other popular search engine, and browse through the results to locate the particular form that suits your needs.  Make sure that all of the aforementioned key components are included in the document if you plan to use it.  Checking for all of the important sections in your affidavit can save you from incurring major problems, so read it carefully now—or deal with the repercussions later.