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“Affidavit” and “certificate” have distinct meanings. When the words affidavit certificate are used together, often separated by a backslash mark, it is usually on a form requiring verification of statements already provided in the form, which only requires that basic information be filled in and the form be signed. In these instances, the terms affidavit and certificate are being used interchangeably. Sometimes there may be a certificate that indicates that an affidavit is part of a larger document or record, but an affidavit does not require a separate certificate to be valid.
The word “affidavit” is derived from a Latin expression “He has declared upon oath.” An affidavit is a sworn statement of facts that is signed by the person making the statement. This person is referred to as the “affiant” or sometimes the “deponent.” The body of an affidavit contains the name of the affiant and lists the facts or statements that are being made under oath. An introduction will indicate that the statement is being made under oath and the county and state in which the affidavit was prepared.
A notary or similar official witnesses the affiant sign the document and then signs and affixes a seal to the affidavit to verify that it has been appropriately witnessed and the date it was signed. Affidavits are primarily used in legal proceedings and can be entered into evidence in court. Knowingly putting false information in an affidavit can subject the affiant to the penalties for perjury.
An affidavit contains facts and information within the personal knowledge of the affiant and can concern a variety of topics. It can be about the affiant’s legal or marital status. It may be about specific occurrences regarding things like an automobile accident, or made to refute the statements of another person. Affidavits are often used when the affiant is not available to be a witness in court for health or other reasons.
The affidavit certificate is usually employed for administrative purposes to verify that a particular state of affairs exists. Like an affidavit, an affidavit certificate requires a signature and contains a warning that false or misleading statements may have certain legal consequences. For instance, parents sometimes are required to sign a form verifying that their child resides within the school district in which the child is registered. Applicants for government benefits may have to sign a form indicating that statements in the prepared form about their eligibility are correct. An affidavit certificate is different from an affidavit, in that it is not prepared by the person signing the document and is not notarized.
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