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Affidavit: What Is It?

An affidavit is a sworn statement from a person who is writing out their personal experience as it related to a certain event. That event could be witnessing a car accident, a crime, or even an affidavit that will go to a court official over the size of someone’s personal estate upon their death.

Because an affidavit is a sworn statement, it must be officially witnessed. While the person writing the affidavit may have the opportunity to do so without others around, it shouldn’t be signed or dated by them until they are in front of an official witness. The type of witness that will be needed will ultimately depend on the type of affidavit being written. An affidavit may just need the signature of one or two other people who verify that the person signing it is who they say they are or the affidavit may need to be signed in front of a notary public.

An affidavit is a form of written oath. When it is signed, the person who wrote their statement is swears that they are telling the truth. If the document is presented to the police or if it is used in a court case, signing an affidavit that has a false statement within it may be a crime. It’s important for you to know that an affidavit is a voluntary statement.

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Contents of An Affidavit

Depending on the use of the affidavit, it may be state specific. This means that there may be certain laws that must be followed in order for an affidavit to be taken and used as a sworn statement. For instance, in one state it may be a legal requirement that the affidavit be signed in front of a notary public no matter what the affidavit is about. In other states, a notary public may only be needed if the affidavit will be presented in a court.

If you’re asked to complete and sign an affidavit, you should understand that you’re sworn to tell the truth in your written statement. Sometimes, authority figures will take your written statement and you will be asked to sign it. Do not sign an affidavit until you’ve read it and you can verify that it reflects exactly what you said. This is important since an affidavit can be used in a court of law as evidence in a lawsuit regardless of whether you are an involved as someone aside from a witness.

In addition to being used in the United States, affidavits are used in many countries. However, their format may vary. If you find yourself in need of an affidavit in a country outside of the United States, make sure that you understand the legal requirements associated with sworn statements.

Common uses for affidavits in the United States include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Notification to a third-party that a death has occurred
  • Confirming your residential address
  • Confirming a legal name change
  • Confirming a person’s identity if they’re a victim of identity theft
  • Claiming ownership of an estate
  • Confirming formal statements for an ongoing or pending court case
  • Confirming that you received official documents
  • A legal statement by a sponsor of an immigrant applying for a visa

Common information included in an affidavit includes the full legal name of the person writing the sworn statement, the full legal address of the person writing the sworn statement, the factual account of what the affidavit is meant to cover, any other information requested by the court or other third party, and it should be dated and signed by the person making the sworn statement and a notary public or other official.