As sworn statements of facts or evidence, affidavits present a claimant’s legal case. These documents are intended to produce quick and clear legal decisions on issues ranging from heirship and marriage to debt and identity theft. Given their everyday use for a variety of purposes, affidavits must follow a strict procedural code. Affidavits help ensure that legal decisions are made in a just and timely manner, in full consideration of all the relevant facts. Affidavits occupy a central place in the day-to-day legal administrative assistant. Are you curious to know four important affidavit facts for a career in a legal administrative assistant? Read on to find out more!
1. There Are Various Types of Affidavits for Specific Legal Needs
Part of what makes affidavits so important is their adaptability. These legal documents serve a variety of legal purposes, allowing claimants to build cases in all areas of the law. While affidavits are often used by lawyers in high-profile cases, they also serve more routine court decisions—and even financial institutions ahead of important transactions.
Among the more common uses, affidavits help estates establish a deceased person’s final domicile—an important consideration for the transfer of finances and assets. Affidavits of marriage are also common and help married people secure benefits in cases of lost marriage certificates or common-law unions. Other common affidavit functions include name changes, identity theft, debt, and small estate claims. For most legal proceedings, these documents present a case and help expedite a decision.
2. Affidavits Can Help Save Time and Money
Professionals with a legal assistant diploma know that routine affidavits facilitate legal decisions. Affidavits help establish the truthfulness of a claim without requiring the claimant’s presence in the courtroom. Sparing claimants from extended legal proceedings, these documents help clients entrust their cases to legal representatives. Naturally, affidavits are also more effective for courts and legal systems, allowing them to litigate cases in a more timely fashion.
Even when a court appearance is not at stake, affidavits help legal claimants save time and money. For instance, a self-proving affidavit attached to a will can spare families and loved ones the financial headache of estate disputes. In Alberta, for instance, family witnesses to a will’s signature can create a designated affidavit that confirms the will’s authenticity.
3. Notaries Verify Affidavit Accuracy
Naturally, affidavits are only effective with proof of their veracity. Whether they serve court decisions or financial transactions, these documents are defined by the total accuracy of their statements. Accordingly, affidavits present only what is known as factual evidence, excluding hearsay, speculation, and supposition. Since it jeopardizes the legal process, untruthfulness on an affidavit can lead to a charge of perjury.
Affidavits are prepared with the utmost precaution against misleading information or fraud. This process is overseen by notaries. While taking affidavits, notaries verify claimant identities and confirm that their signature is on the document.
4. Students in Legal Assistant Courses Should Know Affidavit Formats
Given the many uses of affidavits, students in legal administrative assistant courses should note they’re proper formatting and specifications. While anyone can draft an affidavit—provided it is signed and notarized—legal expertise determines what affidavits should include in particular cases. Most importantly, the content of affidavits varies according to the nature of the claims and the jurisdiction in which they are made.
As graduates of legal assistant courses know, the most persuasive affidavits present factual claims in clear and non-opinionated language. In all cases, affidavits should be clear and concise, providing only the information required for a quick legal decision.
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