What is an Affidavit?
An Affidavit is simply a written, notarized sworn statement. When you sign an affidavit, you are attesting, under law, that you swear a statement written in the affidavit is true. Affidavits can be used for nearly any reason, such as to attest to someone's death or birth, to state a place of residence, or to be entered as evidence in a court trial. A good way to think of an affidavit is as a type of written court testimony. In court, you would swear to tell the truth and then provide your testimony on the witness stand.
An affidavit is similar in that you are under oath, but your statement is on paper instead of spoken. Many government forms could also be considered affidavits, since lying on such forms can carry with it the charge of perjury.
When to use an Affidavit?
- You have been asked to make a declaration or statement of fact under oath as part of a contract or legal process.
Learn how to make a sworn statement to use in any state
How To Write an Affidavit
The Rocket Lawyer Affidavit (also known as an Affidavit Letter or Affidavit Form) is highly customizable and easy to make. Once you start your document, just answer the questions presented to you. Instructions at the end of the process will help you finalize your document. You can print, download, and save our document, and access it from any device. How easy is that?
We’ve gathered some information below that will help you understand what is in your Affidavit and the information you might need to fill it out.
The person making the Affidavit can indicate or choose the state where the Affidavit is being made. The Affidavit will then display the proper format for the notary section of the document.
Name of Person Making the Affidavit
The person who is documenting their statement under oath in the Affidavit is called the “affiant.” The affiant usually provides their full legal name or their name as it appears on the personal ID they plan to present to the notary public when they sign the document in the notary’s presence.
State of Residence
The affiant’s state of residence (where the affiant lives) is also usually included in the Affidavit.
Statement Under Oath
The statement of facts section in the Affidavit provides context to what is being sworn to. The person creating the Affidavit should make certain that what they are attesting to is the truth and be prepared to swear upon its authenticity in court if necessary. If the information turns out to be false, the affiant risks prosecution for the crime of perjury or giving false statements under oath. Below are tips on how to properly write statements of facts to be included in your Affidavit.
- Write only what you know to be true. Do not include information that was told to you or that you simply assume to be true.
- Use the first person. For instance, the Affidavit should be a list of "I" statements (e.g., "I have been the president of ABC, Inc. for the last 10 years.").
- Your beginning facts should provide background information about you and perhaps why you are making the Affidavit.
- Limit each statement of fact to one or two main points. You can have as many facts as needed but just make sure to separate them out.
- Organize the facts so they are in some sort of order. Typically, Affidavits are either in chronological order or in order of importance.
- It may be helpful to number each fact and organize each fact into separate paragraphs. The statement of facts should include names, dates, addresses and other important details that will help support the truthfulness of the Affidavit.
Signatures and Copies
This Affidavit must be signed by the person making the statement, in the presence of a notary public. The format of the notary section is customized for the state where it is being signed.
The original Affidavit should be filed with the Clerk of Court or delivered to the requesting business. The affiant should keep a copy of the Affidavit in a safe place.
Definitions of Affidavit Terms
The person making a statement, under oath, in an Affidavit.
A notary is an official of the state that is tasked with the important duty of verifying that signers are who they say they are (verifying their identities), that they are not signing under duress, and that they are aware of the contents of the document(s) they are signing.
A promise that the statements being made are true to the best of the affiant’s knowledge and belief.
Common Types of Affidavits
Affidavits can be used for many reasons, but they all share a common trait: the person signing is making a declaration, under oath, that what's in the Affidavit is true to the best of their knowledge and belief. Here are some common types of Affidavits and what they're used for.
- Affidavit of Birth - In the event you can't locate your birth certificate, this Affidavit can be used to verify some of the facts surrounding your birth. Typically, this Affidavit form will be completed by one of your blood relatives or the attending midwife or physician. This person will state their relationship to you, how they have knowledge of your birth circumstances, and attest to the relevant information (such as county and date of birth).
- Affidavit of Name Change - If you go by a name different than your birth name but haven't officially changed it through the court, use an Affidavit of Name Change. Typically, another person (most often your spouse or a blood relative) will sign this and swear that you use a name different from what's on your birth certificate.
- Affidavit of Support - Most commonly used while sponsoring an immigrant to the United States, this Affidavit form simply states that the signer will be financially responsible for the incoming immigrant. The names and addresses of both parties are commonly included with the sponsor's signature.
- Affidavit of Heirship - In the event that someone dies without a Will, an Affidavit of Heirship can be used to help ensure that the deceased's heirs can gain control of their estate. Generally, this Affidavit will need to be witnessed by people who don't stand to benefit from the deceased's estate and it can be instrumental in avoiding the often costly and lengthy probate process.
- Affidavit of Death - This is a simple Affidavit usually handled by an estate administrator. It's used to notify creditors, the court and businesses that someone has died. This allows the executor or estate administrator to perform their duties.
- Affidavit of Domicile - This Affidavit is most commonly used by estate administrators and executors when transferring cash, stocks or investment assets of the deceased. Banks and accountants often need proof of the deceased's residence to release this property, while government agencies may use this Affidavit to levy certain taxes.
- Affidavit of Residence - This legal document simply states your place of residence and is often used shortly after you've moved but before you've submitted paperwork to the DMV or other government agency. You may need it to enroll your child in the local school or to swear to a court or business that you reside at a certain address.
- Affidavit of Small Estate - Small estates generally have an easier path through the probate process. You can use this Affidavit to inform the court that the estate in question qualifies as a "small estate," which is usually capped around $150,000. Note that residents of New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Georgia should not use this document.
- ID Theft Affidavit - In the unfortunate instance your identity is stolen, use an ID theft Affidavit to inform creditors, banks, and other businesses. You'll note the day you became aware of the theft and swear that certain actions, like large purchases, were made by the thief, not you.
These are just a few of the most commonly used Affidavits. For a more complete list, see our list of Affidavits.
What does an Affidavit do?
A General Affidavit is a sworn statement of fact on any topic. Our Affidavit is such an Affidavit. It includes a space for entering a unique statement. It is for general purposes rather than designed specifically for a certain situation, such as a statement of name change. This Affidavit can be made suitable for most situations. We offer Affidavits for specific scenarios if that would suit your needs better.
How do I write an Affidavit?
You can easily make an Affidavit within a few minutes using our document builder. You simply fill in some information then print the form to bring to a Notary Public for signing. To complete the Affidavit, you'll submit the following information:
- Location: state and county
- Your information: name and state
- Statement: what you are going to declare as true
The Affidavit will automatically generate to suit the state the document will be signed in and will include the necessary Notary Public legalese required.
Who can sign an Affidavit?
The first qualification is that the signee is competent, which in most cases means “of sound mind,” or capable of understanding what they are signing, and at least 18 years old. They should also be someone who has first-hand knowledge of the information they are attesting to and they should not feel pressured or coerced into signing the document. They should understand that if they are proven to have made false statements that they are violating the law and committing perjury. They should also possess the legal ID required for the notary services, such as a state-issued driver's license or ID, U.S. Military ID, Resident alien ID, or U.S. passport.
If you are signing an affidavit, make sure you read what you are attesting to in its entirety. If you can agree to all of the statements in the document, feel free to sign. You will have to sign in front of a notary public or similar authority to make the affidavit fully legal.
What is the notarization process for signing an Affidavit?
Affidavits need to be notarized. Notary Publics are not difficult to find. Your bank or credit union may even offer free notary services. Having the document notarized is necessary, especially if it is to be used in court. When you bring this form to a Notary Public, they will:
- Check your ID to confirm that you are who you say you are.
- Administer an oath or affirmation.
- Verify that you appeared before the notary.
- Verify that they saw you sign the Affidavit.
- Note that you signed without duress.
- Verify that you swore or affirmed under penalty of perjury.
You will sign the document in front of the notary public, who will then sign their name, attesting that you knew what you were signing and that they witnessed the signature.
Do I need a lawyer to make an Affidavit Letter?
In most cases, no. Affidavits are simple to make. Our document builder can generate the letter for you easily after you submit a bit of information. It just needs to be signed and notarized to be valid. If stakes are high, you may benefit from having a lawyer review the statement that is to be signed. They may be able to suggest edits to the statement before it is signed that may help your case.
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