An affidavit is a sworn written statement used in various legal proceedings that confirms the facts of a situation. Since it is a commonly used document by business owners or in family law cases, understanding its purpose and contents is essential.
An affidavit is a legal written statement, sworn under oath and signed by an affiant recounting the facts surrounding an event or situation. In other words, it is the written version of a testimony sworn under oath to tell the truth in a court proceeding. The legal document is used most commonly in family law and bankruptcy cases and less frequently in civil and criminal matters. For example, an affidavit could notify a spouse about a change in financial circumstances after dissolution proceedings. Other use cases include government forms, such as driver’s license applications, voter registrations, or concealed weapon permits.
Common types of affidavits include:
- Court affidavits.
- Self-proving will affidavit.
- Affidavit of power of attorney.
- Financial affidavit.
- Affidavit of a lost document.
- Affidavit of identity theft.
What should I include in an affidavit?
The contents of an affidavit reflect the knowledge recalled by the person making the statement. The individual making an affidavit cannot be penalized if they do not include facts they were not aware of.
Legal documents, such as affidavits, need to be complete and truthful. Since the document is accompanied by a legally binding oath, it is imperative that the facts are clearly and accurately represented. Both factual and grammatical errors or misrepresentations must be corrected before the affidavit is signed. Generally, a valid testimony must include the following details:
- A title that reflects the subject of the affidavit. If the affidavit is for a court proceeding, the title should include the caption of the case, which is located on relevant court documents. This includes your case number with the court, county, and state name;
- An identity statement that includes your personal information (name, age, employment, residence, and any other relevant information) to introduce yourself and your relevancy to this matter at hand;
- An affirmation of the truth that certifies the following information is factual and accurate;
- An accurate recount of the facts that does not include your personal observations or opinions. The content must be factual, concise and objective – avoid personal comments or opinions;
- A reprise of your affirmation of the truth that reiterates that the summarization of the events is the absolute truth; and
- If necessary, a signature and notarization in front of a witness and notary. A draft of the affidavit is typically completed before meeting with the notary. The signature, however, must be done in their presence. In most states, banks can notarize affidavits for you and provide witnesses. It is also possible to have an independent notary and witnesses.
In all, an affidavit is a common legal document as it is a written version of a testimony. It is highly likely that a court proceeding involves providing an affidavit, which is why an understanding of their use and purpose is crucial.