Important components of a good business affidavit

May 7th 2016

An affidavit is an incredibly useful legal document. It is commonly used during business transactions or negotiations as a way to protect one or both parties from false claims and other fraudulent activities. An affidavit requires the signer, or “affiant,” to swear, under penalty of perjury, that their statement is true to the best of their knowledge. Not only does this provide legal recourse if facts given during business negotiations turn out to be fraudulent or in bad faith, but it also provides peace of mind for all parties that everything possible has been done to ensure the legitimacy of a particular deal.

Importance of properly drafting an affidavit

Since an affidavit is a legally binding document, it is imperative that it include all the relevant components necessary for it to hold up in a court of law. If you are relying in part on an affidavit for legal protection, the last thing you want is to overlook something that makes the affidavit useless.

Components of a good business affidavit

The affidavit itself is usually not very long. It is not meant to be an overly confusing document filled with legalese. On the contrary, an overly complicated affidavit has a greater chance of being thrown out in court, particularly if the judge determines that its intention was to be deceptive or misleading. Nevertheless, there are several key components that every good business affidavit will include. The following are the most important components for any business affidavit. As always, be sure to speak with legal counsel before making any decisions.

Proper witnesses

An affidavit must be signed or affirmed in front of a notary public or other authorized officer of the law. The affiant can be any individual who can authoritatively speak about the topic in question. The affiant must provide some indication that they understand they are swearing an oath; typically this means the raising of one’s right hand, but there are other ways an oath can be affirmed as well.

Structure of the affidavit

In most situations, there is no “official” form to use for affidavits. Instead, an affidavit typically includes some type of title or letterhead, a simple statement that the document is an affidavit and a statement that the affiant is of sound mind and is legally competent and capable of swearing an oath. After these statements, each statement that the affiant is affirming should be listed individually and numerically on the document. Finally, the affidavit should conclude with a statement that the affiant swears under penalty of perjury that the information above is correct and complete to the best of their knowledge. At the bottom of the document, the affiant should sign and the witness can stamp, sign or seal.

Things that void an affidavit

Unsurprisingly, with a document this important, there are a number of ways to accidentally void an affidavit. Make sure you don’t do any of them, or the affidavit might not hold up in court.

The most important thing to remember is that the affidavit must be signed in the presence of a notary public or other authorized officer of the law. There also must be a clear oath, including an understanding that the information given by the affiant is under penalty of perjury. Finally, it is important to explain how or why the affiant has the information listed in the affidavit.

When used correctly, affidavits can be a powerful business tool that can protect you and your business. Make sure to learn the nuances of how they work before letting your business rely on them for legal protection.


Image courtesy of Clyde Robinson via Flickr

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