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AFFIDAVIT: WHAT IS IT AND HOW TO PREPARE ONE?

An affidavit is a written statement that is confirmed by oath or affirmation for use as evidence in court. Basically, it’s the same as putting your hand on a Bible in a court of law where you swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”; but instead you’re putting it in writing.

You’re under oath but on paper when you prepare and sign an affidavit. Lying in what is otherwise known as a sworn affidavit can carry with it a charge of perjury. As you may know, perjury is a criminal offense for lying under oath.

When is an affidavit necessary?

An affidavit is typically used if:

  • you have been asked to make a declaration or statement of fact under oath
  • you have asked someone to make a declaration or statement of fact under oath

Who can sign an affidavit?

A person is qualified to sign an affidavit if:

  • they are of sound mind
  • are 18 years and older
  • have first-hand knowledge of the information they are attesting to
  • they do not feel pressure and/or have not been coerced into signing the affidavit
  • understand that if they are proven to have made false statements, they are violating the law and committing perjury
  • have a legal identity document such as a social security card, driver’s license, ID book or valid passport

Do I need a lawyer to draw up an affidavit?

No, in most cases it is not necessary to use a lawyer to draw up an affidavit. However, an affidavit does need to be signed and notarised by a valid notary public.

DOWNLOAD SAMPLE AFFIDAVIT HERE

What to do before signing an affidavit?

Before signing an affidavit, it’s extremely important that you read it carefully and make sure everything is factually correct. If you are sure everything in the affidavit is correct and valid, you are free to sign it.

However, if you are not happy with what has been included in the affidavit and/or cannot say in good faith that the information is factually correct, do not sign until it has been corrected and re-issued.

Who witnesses the signing of an affidavit?

You have to sign an affidavit in front of a notary public or similar authority to make the affidavit fully legal. A notary public simply witnesses signatures, and will then sign his/her name to attest that he/she knew what you were signing and that he/she witnessed the signature made on the affidavit.

What are the responsibilities of a notary public?

A notary public will:

  • check your identity document to confirm you are who you say you are
  • administer an oath or affirmation
  • verify that you appeared before the notary public
  • notes that you signed without duress
  • verify that you swore or affirmed under penalty of perjury

What is penalty of perjury?

A person is charged with perjury for making a false statement after being sworn in or promising to tell the truth in a court of law. In the case of an affidavit, a person has sworn to tell the truth on paper.

The penalty for perjury differs from country to country but it generally carries a prison sentence for at least one year as well as a possible fine.

The person under oath - the signer - is sometimes called a deponent or affiant. This person can certify that the contents entered in the affidavit are fit to stand as evidence in a court of law. He or she can also verify the facts such as date of birth and identity number.

What information is needed for an affidavit?

An affidavit will always include the following:

  • Location: state and country
  • Signers information: name and state
  • Statement: what you are declaring as true
DOWNLOAD SAMPLE AFFIDAVIT HERE

SAMPLE OF A TYPICAL AFFIDAVIT

Affidavit of ________________________________________________

State of ________________________________________________

Country of ________________________________________________


The undersigned, _________________________________, being duly sworn, hereby deposes and says:

  1. I am over the age of 18 and am a resident of the State of ________________________ . I have personal knowledge of the facts herein, and, if called as a witness, could testify complete thereto.
  2. I suffer no legal disabilities and have personal knowledge of the facts set forth below.

I declare that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the information herein is true, correct and complete.

Executed this ________________ day of _______________________ 20_____ .

NOTARY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

State of ____________________ Country of _____________________

___________________________
Notary Public

___________________________
Tile (and Rank)

My commission expires: _____________________________________

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