What is an Affidavit?

Last revision: Last revision:10 February 2024
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1. Introduction

Affidavits serve as essential legal documents used in various situations, such as court proceedings, business transactions, and administrative matters. These sworn statements hold considerable weight in legal proceedings, providing a written account of specific details or events that can be presented as evidence.

Affidavits serve as sworn statements or declarations made voluntarily by individuals, called affiants, to attest to the truth of certain facts. This guide will explain the significance of affidavits and provide an overview of the content of affidavits and their purpose.

2. Types of Affidavits and their Purposes

When an affidavit should be used, and what type of affidavit is needed, will depend on the legal needs of the affiant. Affidavits serve diverse purposes in the Philippines, ranging from establishing facts to affirming one's identity or confirming specific events. Affidavits may be executed by one person or by two or more persons depending on what needs to be declared through a single affidavit or joint affidavit. A single affidavit and a joint affidavit are distinguished in the succeeding paragraphs.

2.1. Single Affidavit:

In this type of affidavit, one person provides a detailed and truthful account of facts, events, or circumstances within their knowledge or experience. Single affidavits are commonly used when a single person has firsthand information or is a witness to a particular incident.

For example, if a person wants his records to be corrected and wants to establish that two different names found on different records or documents refer to him, then he must use an Affidavit of One and the Same Person. In this affidavit, the said person can by himself swear on the circumstances of the discrepancy to correct such discrepancy as he owns said records or documents and is aware of the discrepancy.

2.2 Joint Affidavit:

A joint affidavit, on the other hand, involves two or more individuals collectively making a sworn statement. The affiants in a joint affidavit may be attesting to the same set of facts, circumstances, or events, and their statements are presented together in a single document. Joint affidavits are often used when multiple individuals share a common experience or have relevant information about a particular situation.

Using the same example, where the statements in an Affidavit of One and the Same Person should be supported by the statements of two or more persons, an Affidavit of Two Disinterested Persons should be used. In this kind of affidavit, the two persons will jointly narrate facts to show that such discrepancy exists and that it should be corrected for the benefit of the person whose name appears differently in his records.

2.3 Commonly Used Affidavits and their Purposes:

Common types of affidavits include those used for legal proceedings, financial transactions, immigration purposes, and personal circumstances like birth or marriage. The kind of affidavit that should be used will depend on the situation of the affiant as explained below. The commonly used affidavits are explained in the succeeding paragraphs, however, note that the following is not an exhaustive list.

2.3.1 Legal Proceedings

  • Affidavit of Personal Service. This serves as proof that a certain document is personally delivered to the document's recipient or his representative if he is absent at his address at the time of delivery.
  • Affidavit of Desistance. This document sets forth the desire of a person to desist from pursuing a particular case that is already filed against a certain person called the respondent, especially in criminal cases.

2.3.2 Financial Transactions

  • Affidavit of Loss. This is a written statement that describes the facts concerning the loss of an object, usually a document such as an identification card, a driver's license, a passport, or documents relating to the registration of vehicles.
  • Affidavit of Closure of Business. This is used to inform third parties that a business has closed or ceased its operations.
  • Treasurer's Affidavit. This is a document that is subscribed and sworn to by the Treasurer of a corporation to certify the amounts subscribed and paid by the subscribers for stock corporations.

2.3.3 Travel purposes

  • Affidavit of Consent and Support. This is used when a minor child is applying for a passport or traveling with a person other than his or her parent(s), legal guardian, or person exercising parental authority/legal custody over him or her.
  • Affidavit of Support with Undertaking. This is a document wherein a person takes an oath that they will pay for all the travel expenses, including subsistence and accommodations, of another person.

2.3.4 Birth, Marriage, or Family Relations

  • Affidavit of Admission of Paternity. This is a document wherein the person signing the affidavit acknowledges that he is the father of an illegitimate child.
  • Affidavit to Use the Surname of the Father. This is a document that is used for an illegitimate child to use the father's surname.
  • Affidavit of Cohabitation. This is used by live-in couples of opposite sexes, also known as common-law spouses to prove that they have been living with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of a valid marriage.
  • Affidavit of Single Status. This is a document that may be used by any person who wants to prove that he is currently single and unwed at the time he made the statements in the affidavit.
  • Affidavit of Child Support. This is used by the parents or other person who may be obliged by law to give support, to keep and honor their obligation to provide support for their child.

3. Components of an Affidavit

Creating a comprehensive affidavit in the Philippines requires attention to detail and adherence to specific components. These typically include a title stating the nature of the affidavit, the affiant's personal information, a statement of truth, a detailed narration of facts, and a jurat or notarial acknowledgment. This is explained and illustrated below:

  • Heading and Title. The heading or title includes the word "AFFIDAVIT" and a title that succinctly describes the nature of the statement. For example, Affidavit of Loss, Affidavit of Personal Service, and so on.
  • Personal Information. The affiant's full name, address, and other relevant personal details should be provided at the beginning of the affidavit following the heading and title. The name should be the full name of the affiant and should be the one appearing on his government-issued ID. This portion ends with a colon and is followed by the narration of facts as explained below.
  • Narration of Facts. The facts or events being attested to should be elaborated, providing a clear and chronological account.
  • Statement of Truth. The affiant must explicitly state that the affidavit's contents are true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief.
  • Jurat or Notarial Acknowledgment. A jurat is a portion that is accomplished solely by the notary public and this is where he places his official seal, signature, and stamp showing the details of the notary public concerning his authority to notarize a document. Notarization is further explained in the paragraph below.

4. Notarization of Affidavits

The final step in creating an affidavit involves notarization. Affidavits must be sworn before a notary public, lawyer, or any other authorized officer who can administer oaths. The notary public will verify the identity of the affiant, and ensure the voluntariness of the statement.

In essence, once the notarization is completed this means that the notary public has administered the oath or affirmation, in simpler terms, he has accepted the oath given by the affiant attesting to the truthfulness of the statements made in the affidavit.

A detailed explanation of notarization can be found in the guide: When and how to Notarize a Document?

Once notarized, affidavits become public documents that can be used as evidence in court in the event a case is filed and the affidavit is relevant to the case. Public Documents are those issued by a competent public officer or an official employee of the Philippine government, or those that are duly notarized by a notary public and can be used for their intended purpose. Thus, an affidavit before notarization is a private document without any intervention of a government officer or a notary public and cannot be used for the purpose for which they are created.

It must be noted that false statements in affidavits may lead to perjury charges which can result in a fine or imprisonment, emphasizing the importance of honesty and accuracy in the information provided. Perjury is the crime that is committed when an affiant makes a false statement in an affidavit or any other public document and the affiant knows that the statements made are false.

Further, affidavits find applications in various legal and non-legal scenarios. They are also used to validate transactions, prove identity or relationship, and comply with administrative requirements such as visa applications or insurance claims.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, affidavits are useful documents that can be used depending on their purposes. Affidavits may be executed by one or more affiants, and provide a sworn and documented account of facts that establishes the truthfulness of the statements made. These sworn statements can be presented as evidence in legal proceedings.

As these documents carry substantial legal effects such as proving one's circumstances (i.e one's identity or relationship with another) or entering into a transaction, it is imperative to approach their creation with diligence, honesty, and a clear understanding of the specific requirements.

Templates and examples to download in Word and PDF formats

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