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What is an Affidavit?

What is an Affidavit?

An affidavit is an important tool that is used to carry out many legal procedures. Let's have a look at what it exactly is.
Puja Lalwani
In the world of law, there are a lot of terms that are beyond the understanding of a layman. Among them, one such term is the 'affidavit'. It can be said that an affidavit is a written declaration about certain facts, that are verified by the person making the declaration. Further, these are certified by legal authorities, so that they are eligible in court (if necessary) as proof of the statement(s) made. These legal authorities include a lawyer, a Commissioner of Oaths, a notary, or a Justice of Peace. In the presence of any of these legal authorities, the person in whose name the affidavit has been made will sign the document in order to verify the truth. This means any discrepancy in what you say and what has been claimed on the affidavit will be questionable, as your declaration on the affidavit is as good as a testimony before a court.

In the legal context, an affidavit is created when you yourself may not be able to go to court. On the other hand, there are several other types of affidavits that may be created for almost any purpose. For instance, one may make an affidavit of heirship, an affidavit for a business loan, or to transfer power and authority to someone else. An affidavit cannot be legalized on its own. It requires documents that function as proof to back the claims made in it.

Components of an Affidavit
One cannot understand what an affidavit is without understanding the components that result in its creation. Though its purpose may vary, every affidavit follows a basic format that is mandatory. It has certain basic components that make it a legal document. These components have been enlisted here.
  • Commencement: This is the beginning of the document, where the affiant or the person making the affidavit is identified.
  • Averments: Also known as affirmations, these include a list of all the claims that are being made by the affiant.
  • Statement of Truth: A statement of truth is what states that everything that is mentioned in the affidavit is true. A statement of truth may be something like this: I solemnly swear that the aforementioned are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
  • Attestation Clause: This is the portion where the oath made by the affiant is certified. It also consists of the date.
  • Signatures: This is the last portion of the document, that includes the signature of the affiant, as well as that of the witness(es).
More often than not, you are provided with free affidavit forms, where you simply have to fill in your name and other details, and the statements made on the affidavit are common for every person signing the document. However, it is imperative that you read every document that you sign. It is a good habit to do so, just to avoid any unforeseen problems in the future.

So now that you know what an affidavit is, you will be able to understand the implications―legal or otherwise―that are associated with it. It is possible that you may have signed an affidavit many a time in the past, without really knowing that you are doing so. However, make sure you read through the document carefully and comprehend what you are swearing to. As mentioned earlier, it is the safest procedure to follow to avoid any hassles in the future.