In life, people face commissioning or notarizing affidavits periodically. They hear about this procedure on TV but sometimes lack a clear sense of what the process invovles. While it intimidating in theory, most commissioning and notarizing of affidavits is both fast and inexpensive. Questions about the process or needing to book an appointment, the lawyers at Kahane Law Office see people on a drop in basis or by appointment.
What Is An Affidavit?
An affidavit is a document containing sworn written statements made by an individual, called an affiant, declarant or deponent. The affidavit is sworn under an oath or affirmation administered by a legally authorized witness known as a commissioner of oaths or a notary public. Once the affidavit is executed and notarized or commissioned, the document is a sworn affidavit that can be treated as evidence in court.
What Is An Affidavit Of Execution?
There are various types of affidavits. A common type includes an “affidavit of execution” which is often used in real estate transactions and wills and estates procedures. An affidavit of execution is signed by a witness who attests that the:
- signing procedure occurred in correctly complied with manner;
- witness knows the deponent who signed the original document (such as a will);
- document signing occurred freely and voluntarily by the deponent; and lastly
- deponent understands the contents of the original document.
Affidavits of execution can become important legal documents in court proceedings. For example, during probate, if someone challenges the validity of a will, the judge may ask the commissioner or notary who signed it to testify under oath that the signing procedure of the will was correctly followed. The process is a serious one and not just a “rubber stamp”.
Types of Affidavits
Apart from an affidavit of execution, other types of affidavits need swearing regularly. For example, these include affidavits of:
- Name change – used when an individual marries or divorces, this document proves a legal name change;
- Financial disclosure – employed in divorce proceedings where spouses officially reveal all their assets and debts to divide property and calculate child/spousal support;
- Insurance loss claims – used to prove a loss (actually called a proof of loss form) to an insurer, such as a stolen vehicle;
- Surviving joint tenant – transfers ownership where a right of survivorship exists;
- Marital, common law or separation status – employed in family law matters;
- Death – used to notify a bank or a court that a person has passed away if it is impractical to obtain a death certificate; and lastly
- Service – employed in litigation that needs a sworn testimony to prove that a person received a specific document.
Some affidavits have other documents or records attached to it called exhibits which can include contracts, text messages, photos and pay stubs. Exhibits serve as evidence to support the contents of an affidavit.
Do You Need A Commissioner Of Oaths Or A Notary Public?
A commissioner of oaths’ stamp is only valid in the province he or she is authorized to certify documents in. Thus, a commissioner for oaths in Alberta may only certify documents that are used or filed in Alberta. If your affidavit requirement involves use or filing outside of Alberta, you then need a notary public.
Why Do You Need Certification By A Commissioner Of Oaths Or A Notary Public?
The commissioner of oaths or notary public validates the identity of the affiant which reduces the risk of forgery. A commissioner of oaths or notary public completes the jurat which appears at the end of the document. It describes, when, where, and before whom the swearing of the affidavit occurred. Further, the commissioner of oaths guarantees the voluntary signing of the affidavit occurred without coercion. However, it is important to remember that commissioners and notaries provide no legal advice. If you require legal advice, our lawyers provide advice, direction and legal information with a consultation.
Who Is A Commissioner Of Oaths Or Notary Public?
In Alberta, various individuals, by statute, legally have authorization to be a commissioner of oaths, including students-at-law, lawyers, judges, and police officers. Further, all students-at-law (in Alberta), practicing lawyers and judges are notary publics. Generally, a lawyer is the easiest one to meet with unless you have a friend who fits into one of the other categories.
Swearing Or Affirming Affidavits?
The commissioner of oaths or notary public does not certify the truth of the contents of the affidavit, the deponent does. Accordingly, when making an affidavit, you may elect to attest to the truth of the statements by swearing or affirming them.
For those who are religious, you may elect to swear your affidavit. Your commissioner or notary will ask: “do you swear that the contents of your affidavit are true, so help you God?”
If you are not religious, you may choose to affirm your affidavit. Your commissioner or notary will ask “do you promise that the contents of your affidavit are true and solemnly affirm that this promise is binding on your conscience?” You should respond to either question with: “I do”. Because affidavits establish legal rights, it is important to tell the truth. Pursuant to the Criminal Code, those who make a false affidavit may face a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
What Is The Process Of Swearing Or Affirming My Affidavit?
The deponent must appear personally before a commissioner of oaths. An identity requirement exists including presenting two pieces of valid identification. The identification required includes, for example, one piece of government issued valid ID, such as a passport or driver’s licence. Next, the commissioner or notary administers the oath or affirmation, the deponent signs the affidavit, and the commissioner or notary signs and stamps under his or her signature. A notary will also seal over his or her signature.
Locate A Commissioner For Oaths Or Notary Public In Calgary
We make the process quick and easy. Central, easy to get to Calgary location with lots of free parking. We offer both drop in service or book an appointment time that works for you. Depending on scheduling, we can come to you as well. To schedule an appointment with a notary public or commissioner of oaths, call us toll-free at 1-877-225-8817 (or 403-225-8810 locally in Calgary, Alberta), or email us directly here today.