What does signing an affidavit mean?

What is an affidavit? An affidavit is a legally-binding written statement made under oath.

By signing an affidavit, you make a sworn statement that everything detailed within the affidavit is (to the best of your knowledge) true.

There are several types of affidavits.

Some are commonly used in court proceedings, others can be used for record-keeping.

They’re involved in everything from name changes to getting a driver’s license and criminal cases.

All signed affidavits are legal documents, and falsifying them could result in legal proceedings for perjury.

Signing an affidavit: What does it mean?

So, what does signing an affidavit mean? When you sign an affidavit, you become what is known as an “affiant”.

The purpose of doing so is to turn a written statement into a legal document.

By signing an affidavit, you formally legitimize the information contained within.

For example, when signing an affidavit relating to child support, you would legally affirm things like the identity of the child’s parents, the amount of support each party can, should or expects to pay, relevant financial information, and so on.

Almost everyone has to sign an affidavit at some point in their life.

Common types of affidavits include:

  • Real estate affidavits, used in conveyancing
  • Probate affidavits, used in estate planning and distribution
  • Financial affidavits, used to confirm and affirm exchange of monies
  • Life event affidavits, used to issue things like birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates.

Some rules in signing an affidavit

Who can sign an affidavit?

An affidavit should be signed by the person making the statement and a notary.

A notary is someone who has been legally authorized to administer oaths. 

With PandaDoc Notary, you can quickly connect to a state-commissioned online notary who can help you with notarizing affidavits. This can speed up a lot of legal processes.

Signing an affidavit with false information

If you knowingly lie on or otherwise falsify an affidavit, there could be legal consequences.

Depending on the type of affidavit and the severity of the lie, penalties for this range from fines to jail time.

Under penalty of perjury

Affidavits are sworn and signed under penalty of perjury.

“Perjury”, simply put, is a term for lying or deliberately not telling the whole truth in a legal setting and is a serious crime.

The signer of an affidavit can be convicted of perjury if they sign an affidavit containing information that is, to their personal knowledge, false. 

Depending on the nature of the affidavit, an affiant could also be convicted of perjury if they knowingly manipulate the truth in an affidavit, or purposefully do not tell the whole truth.

State laws on perjury

Every state has its own punishments for perjury, but it’s a federal felony. This means that perjury is a criminal offense in every state.

As a general rule, perjury punishments change in severity depending on the nature of the affidavit and the possible consequences of the lie. 

Let’s say, for example, that an affiant has falsified the dates on an affidavit of residence. If they did this in order to secure a small loan, the penalty is likely to be lesser than if they did it to create a false alibi for a violent crime.

It’s also worth noting that the severity of perjury penalties vary from state to state.

For example, a felony conviction of perjury can carry a 10 year jail sentence in Texas. However, the same conviction would carry a maximum four years in jail in California.

If you’re unsure whether or not you can legally sign a sworn affidavit, seek legal advice.

What happens if I don’t sign an affidavit?

If you don’t sign or refuse to sign an affidavit, the affidavit is invalid.

It will also be invalid if you fail to get it notarized by a notary public or representative from a law firm. This means that it won’t be legally binding.

Whether it’s a general affidavit, a statement of facts, an affidavit of domicile, an affidavit of service, or any other type of affidavit, it needs to be signed.

For example, if a medical professional fails to sign an affidavit of death, a death certificate cannot be issued and probate proceedings cannot begin.

You can avoid this problem with PandaDoc Notary.

PandaDoc Notary allows you to sign affidavits and get them notarized quickly and easily.

Easily sign and notarize your affidavits

Finding a notary isn’t hard, but it can be tricky to find the time to get an affidavit notarized in the presence of a notary public.

Luckily, there is a simple, quick, and secure way to notarize your affidavits: PandaDoc Notary.

PandaDoc Notary can quickly connect you with a state-authorized notary who can remotely notarize your documents.

This helps you to speed up whatever legal process you need the affidavit for. Given how slowly legal wheels can turn, this is a huge benefit!

Whether you need to get power of attorney, obtain a marriage certificate, agree child custody, or organize heirship, PandaDoc Notary can help you out in a fast, safe, and legally-binding way.

Start a free 14-day free trial today!