All you need to know about what is an affiant

what is an affiant x

If you watch crime shows, there is a decent chance that you might have come across terms that you aren’t familiar with. One of those words is “affiant,” commonly used in courtroom settings. 

Making sure that your affidavit is lawfully sufficient, easy to read, and organized is a challenging and daunting task in the best of circumstances. The undertakings are often restricted by time constraints and the requirements of judges and prosecutors. 

However, with a few accessible and feature-rich tools and simple guidelines, it has become easier for every prospective affiant to create legitimate affidavits.

But what is an affiant? Let’s find out:

  1. What is an affiant?
  2. When are affiants needed?
  3. Who can be an affiant?
  4. Affiant on affidavit
  5. Affiant on a notary
  6. Affiant in a Power of Attorney
  7. Affiant in divorce cases
  8. Affiant on a document
  9. Affidavits: Avoid potential issues
  10. Affiant and the Remote Online Notarization (RON) of affidavits

1. What is an affiant?

In legal definition, affiants make a sworn statement known as an affidavit. For example, an affiant gives evidence to the police, then claims to it, and typically signs it.

An affidavit is a legitimate document used as proof in a court of law. However, for a testimony to be permissible in any legal setting, it needs to be adequately notarized by the notary public. So, an affiant is an individual who files an official declaration. 

Affidavits should clearly show who is filing them, and that person is called an affiant.

What is the role of an affiant?

An affiant is a person who voluntarily proposes and signs a declaration of identified facts under oath and decides to have it jotted down. This written declaration is known as an affidavit. Affidavits are papers that cover statements of facts and evidence recognized by the affiant and that’ll be presented in a particular case.

The affiant’s purpose is to draft an affidavit, depending on their knowledge. When the signer signs their transcribed statement, it becomes a legitimate document. The following are the two instances when you can use affidavits in court hearings or trials:

  • The affiant is not available to appear in court
  • There’s no other information

For example, in a court hearing, an affidavit might be used to strengthen the truthfulness of statements or evidence presented in the courtroom.

If the eye witness signing the affidavit is there, it is no longer permissible in court. You can also use testimonies for transitory restraining orders and are deemed to hold more weight than just information or beliefs.

2. When are affiants needed?

There are various situations where you could need an affiant. The most common scenario occurs while presenting evidence or proof in a court of law. This can also be a criminal case in some situations. If there is proof to be acknowledged and that evidence needs a witness, an affiant is probably required to file an affidavit before that evidence can be counted in. 

Moreover, there are also cases when you might need affidavits, even during a civil lawsuit. In that scenario, an affiant will be required to file the affidavit correctly.

Although these terms are quite commonly used in courtroom settings, there are other cases where affiant and affidavit might be used. 

For instance, an affidavit may be needed to complete particular transactions within the courtroom premises. For example, a person who would like to gift a house or a car to someone may be required to file a proper affidavit before completing that transaction. 

This is crucial for everyone to comprehend the regulations and rules before going through the affidavit procedure.

Here is a shortlist of examples regarding when affiants must get an affidavit.

  • Verification of residency. However, an individual who just moved to a new house had not notified their bank of the new address. So the bank will create an affidavit and send it to the individual to authenticate if their address is new or if it’s the same.
  • Inform third parties of a demise. This can be a school, workplace, or creditor. For instance, a person passes away during Spring Break. Their guardians will create an affidavit stating the demise and the reason for a car accident. Then, the testimony will be presented to the respective college to eliminate the deceased from the list and remove the school debt.
  • Identity confirmation. An affidavit can also be used for stolen identity cases. For instance, a person gets an affidavit in the email from the social security organization which notifies them about their stolen identity.
  • Name change confirmation. This can be in case of divorce or marriage. An individual filed for divorce. So once they are done with the proceedings, the person can also file for a name change. And once they verify everything, the specific person will receive an affidavit from the office of Social Security stating that their name has been changed legally

3. Who can be an affiant?

An affidavit needs to be authenticated by a notary public for it to be acceptable, and an affiant is the one who files the affidavit. So technically, an affiant can be just about anyone.

Typically, anyone who files affidavits can be referred to as an affiant. The notary public’s role is to make sure the signature is valid. Also, that signature must be applied willingly and without foul play or coercion. Therefore, before accepting an affidavit in a law court, a notary public must ensure that the affiants have voluntarily granted their signature on the page.

When the particular affiant acknowledges that they are signing the paper for their intended purpose and willingly signs the affidavit, that piece of paper becomes a notarized document and ultimately an affidavit.

There are multiple situations when someone below the age of 18 may be constrained from filing particular types of affidavits. Therefore, it is good to work with a seasoned legal professional who can describe the process of affidavit filing in case minors are involved.

You need to comprehend what you must do before the affidavit can be approved if an affidavit is used in a law court.

A notary public may be able to assist someone walking through the process. Once the affidavits have been notarized correctly, they may be used in a legal proceeding.

While the terms “affidavit” and “affiant” are most commonly used in courtroom settings, there are also other times when you may hear these terms. For example, you might require affidavits for specific transactions based on the state you live in. 

For instance, if you reside in Michigan and wish to give your car to your friend in Florida, an affidavit may require this transfer of possession.

4. Affiant on affidavit

Before moving on to explaining who is an affiant in legal terminology, here is what an affidavit is precisely: Affidavits are described as voluntary documents that have been written, taking into consideration truth/facts before a notary by pledging under oath.

As stated above, affiants are those individuals who sign an affidavit. Even though there is no race, gender, or age discrimination to be an affiant, they must be mature or old enough to comprehend the importance of the facts’ validity presented in an affidavit.

Moreover, a person can file or sign an affidavit even if they have a criminal record/conviction. However, an immature or an incompetent person will not be allowed to sign or file an affidavit.

In addition, an individual who is well aware of the information or the facts presented in an affidavit might act as an affiant. However, that specific individual should also have the authority to validate the points.

Also, a guardian is permissible to file or sign an affidavit for a mentally impaired person or a minor.

In many cases, a personal representative, a corporate officer, or an attorney is also permitted to file/sign an affidavit, if required.

Yet, since affidavits are described as voluntary papers, an attorney, court, or authority isn’t permissible to compel someone to sign an affidavit.

5. Affiant on a notary

A notary is in front of whom affiants should sign an affidavit. A notary should also authenticate the affidavit facts by marking and closing them. They are a sort of witness for the affiant as well as the affidavit.

The notary is a legal term. Even though it may resemble a lawyer, it owns fewer rights than an attorney.

6. Affiant in a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is defined as a legal paper that enables an individual to assign someone to decide for them, in the following scenarios:

  • If someone has lost their mental capacity to make sound decisions for themselves
  • In case someone doesn’t want to make their decisions
  • In case an individual is admitted or sick and aren’t able to make decisions for themselves

So the power of attorney affiants are those allowed to sign the affidavit on behalf of someone. An affiant in a power of attorney is granted the authority or power to take action for a provided principal.

7. Affiant in divorce cases

Divorce is a difficult time for all the involved participants. During this trying time, people often wonder if a local court hears them or whether or not they will be able to get the credence they are worthy of as, after all, they didn’t take the case to the law court.

So an affiant is typically the person filing the complaint in a divorce case. But, the involved parties have equal right to sign the affidavit and be heard.

8. Affiant on a document

An affiant is a person who willingly signs the statement of a known fact under the pledge and agrees to have it transcribed. This written declaration is called an affidavit covering facts and evidence to present in a case.

On a document, the affiant is the person who is signing or filing an affidavit. Furthermore, it is vital for an affiant to possess the personal knowledge of the information mentioned in an affidavit. An individual is subjected to the penalty of perjury if it’s a false statement.

Since affidavits are legal documents, they must be signed and closed by a notary for them to be effective. In addition, a notary, an authorized government official, needs to verify the reliability of the data presented in an affidavit.

9. Affidavits: Avoid potential issues

While you might have signed various affidavits in the previous years without fully understanding what they are, you may have signed one of those to vote or register or get some government advantage. You can also use affidavits as proof in litigation.

The person signing (the affiant) this written document declares under a pledge that they are making truthful and voluntary statements. The affidavit requirements vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. However, affidavits must include the affiant’s name, signature, and physical address in most authorities.  

The contents should be limited to what an affiant believes to be accurate and voluntary because of the experience or direct observation. Before you sign an affidavit, be sure of the foundation of your knowledge.  

Most authorities need the affiant or deponent to pledge that the declarations are authentic before they sign the paper. That affiant’s signature should be certified and witnessed by an attorney, notary public, or other public official approved to take oaths.  

In addition, the affiants must adequately understand the affidavit’s content and the significance of an oath, as well as the consequences of violation. For example, an individual who lies on the testimony might be deemed to have committed fabrication and face substantial penalties. 

Given the considerable consequences, people who aren’t mentally competent should not sign or be asked to sign the affidavit.

You might have to sign an affidavit in case you witnessed a particular incident that may result in, or has already led to, legal action.  

If you are in that position, ensure that the affidavit is accurate and complete.  Please consult your legal advisor before you sign it. Be very cautious regarding what is stated in a deposition, as the opposing party may concentrate on the document and scrutinize every aspect of it in a court case.  

Opposing counsel might press you on the affidavits’ contents during a trial or in a deposition to hurt your credibility.  

10. Affiant and the Remote Online Notarization (RON) of affidavits  

For those who require their documents notarized, including affidavits, it may be easier to opt for Remote Online Notarization and work with the online notary, such as PandaDoc Notary.

Here are some of the benefits of Remote Online Notarization: 

  • You can efficiently notarize documents from the comfort of your home or wherever you are
  • Remote online notarization of documents allows you minimize overhead and travel expenses
  • Notarizing papers online will become the industry standard as it is more convenient and faster. Use RON as a competitive advantage and make it available to your customers.

If you decide to go with PandaDoc Notary, you can access all-encompassing tools that can enable you to notarize your documents online seamlessly. 

All in all, leveraging online notary services is the quickest way to get your affidavits notarized. 

Wrapping up

Ultimately, the person filing an affidavit will be considered the affiant. However, bear in mind that before your testimony gets accepted, you might need to notarize it.

Although you have various options out there when it comes to authenticating your documents, you might want to go with an online notary as a substitute. This procedure could be less expensive, faster, and overall more convenient.

Despite their prominence, getting your documents notarized can be highly frustrating. Customers had to schedule, find, and visit a notary public for more than a hundred years to have their signatures verified.

If you aim to expedite your legal processes, PandaDoc Notary, a Remote Online Notarization platform, can help you do it with document templates, notarization workflows, digital stamp/seal creation, trusted ID verification and more.

PandaDoc Notary removes the hassle tied to manual/conventional notarizations by enabling your business to notarize documents online. Request a demo to learn how.

Guy Pearson has been a commissioned notary for more than seven years. He also runs one of the most established Facebook groups for Remote Online Notarization (RON), with more than 7000 members nationwide. Guy is the co-founder and product leader of PandaDoc Notary. His team drives product initiatives in key verticals, such as Legal, Financial, and Real Estate.