An affidavit is a sworn statement of facts about something you know or about something someone has told you. Affidavits can be used in court. A bank or other financial institution may ask you to make one to probate a next-of-kin’s estate. If you want to be married in a foreign country, you could be asked for an affidavit proving your marital status. A commissioner of oaths or notary public witnesses your affidavit by having you swear on a religious text approved by the Province of Ontario or affirm (state or declare) that the contents are true.
An affidavit is like testifying in court, except it’s written. Remember that you are giving a factual account of what you know or information someone has told you (include their name). You can make a joint affidavit with others, as long as you all sign it. Use the first person (“I saw”) and a single paragraph for each fact. Number the paragraphs and use sections and a table of contents if it is long. Give exhibits such as emails a letter, starting with “A” and going to “Z” or as many letters as needed. The notary or commissioner of oaths will do the rest.
Lightning strikes your home one night and starts a fire. When the inferno is out, you realize that almost everything you own is covered with soot, smoke, or water. You call your insurer on their 24/7 emergency claims number. The insurance appraiser looks at the damage and asks you to complete a proof of loss form. You complete it and take it to a notary public or commissioner of oaths, who verifies your identity, witnesses your signature, and signs it or seals it. You just made an affidavit.
Most affidavit forms have instructions printed directly on them or are fillable PDFs. For affidavits to be used in court, including what court and regional municipality or county the case is being heard in. State your name and the facts and include a list of any exhibits that you are providing. Each fact is a single paragraph, numbered from 1 and up. Include what you witnessed and the dates and times that the events occurred. Exhibits are numbered with letters from A to Z and can be anything that will support your cases, such as emails or contracts.
Affidavits can be used to verify your identity or someone else’s, request a court hearing, or provide information for a lawsuit or to a court. You could be asked for an affidavit to make an insurance claim or to confirm a document is genuine. Immigration officials may ask for affidavits when you apply to visit or move to Canada or get married in a foreign country. A notary’s seal could also be required for financial documents like mortgages, powers of attorney, or living Wills.
Affidavits in Ontario require that you swear or affirm an oath stating that the information is true in the presence of a commissioner of oaths. A notary public also has all of the powers of a commissioner for taking affidavits, therefore, either a notary public or commissioner of oaths can witness your oath and signature. This can be done either in the physical or virtual presence of one of these individuals (doing this by a zoom call is acceptable in Ontario). Since you are making a legal oath testifying to the best of your knowledge that the facts in it are true, affidavits for use in court require a commissioner of oaths signature. Foreign embassies and Canadian credit unions, banks, or financial institutions often ask for notarized or commissioned affidavits for the same reason.
Affidavits can be used in court. They are a sworn statement of facts, just as if you were testifying on a witness stand. Your statement is witnessed by a commissioner of oaths or notary public, who confirms your identity by asking you for a government-issued ID and then witnesses and signs the document. Non-court affidavits can be witnessed by a notary public or authorized commissioner of oaths as well. Statutory declarations have the same legal effect as affidavits (a sworn oath) but are mostly used for government or business matters. You might get a statutory declaration to verify you are alive for a pension plan or to make an insurance claim.
You’re the affiant when you make an affidavit. You can swear on a religious text like the Bible or Quran or declare (affirm) your affidavit is true, to the best of your knowledge.
When you make a statutory declaration, you are the declarant.
A venue is a place where a court proceeding is being held. It appears at the top of your affidavit and looks like this:
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE – ONTARIO
IN THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF DURHAM
Exhibits are used to support the points you make in your affidavit. You can include bank statements, photos, emails, letters, testimonials, contracts, transcripts, or anything you think is relevant. Physical exhibits like objects or audio or videotapes can be introduced at trial, with the court’s permission. As long as the judge agrees, you may also be able to bring an exhibit to the court that you forgot to include in your affidavit. Make four copies, one each for the judge, the other party, their lawyer, and you.
Exhibits are organized in the order they appear in your affidavit. Label each one from A to Z. For example, Exhibit A might be a photocopy of a letter. Exhibit B could be a transcript of a voicemail. And so on. You can group exhibits related to a single fact together (Exhibit A-1, A-2, and A-3). When you mention an exhibit in your affidavit, add this statement after each: “now produced and shown to me and marked as Exhibit (insert the letter).” Your notary public or commissioner of oaths will witness and stamp each exhibit.
Draft a brief letter of invitation for a visitor’s visa by including your contact information and the applicant’s, your birth dates, and your relationship. List your job title, dependants who live with you, and your citizenship status. Attach a photocopy of citizenship documents. Indicate why the applicant is visiting, how long they plan to stay, and where and how they will pay for expenses. You are not legally responsible for the person, but you must keep any promises you make, such as providing a place to stay. A commissioner of oaths or notary public can help you draft the letter and witness and sign it.
You need an affidavit in support of a claim for custody. Having decision-making responsibility for your child enables you to be involved in health care, education, religious or spiritual choices, and extracurricular activities. Your affidavit informs the judge how you plan to care for your child and why it will benefit them. It includes details about any abuse or violence your family has suffered and who live in your household. Inform the court if you have been involved in other court cases. If your child has special needs, include this in your affidavit. A notary public can witness, sign and seal your affidavit for you.
An affidavit of single status is often required to get married in a foreign country. Before you leave Canada, prepare a sworn affidavit verifying your identity and declaring you are single and eligible to be married, “without legal impediment or other lawful cause.” If you are divorced, include your married name and the certificate number on your divorce order. Foreign countries may require that affidavits be authenticated in Canada. Start your planning early to avoid disappointment or delays.
Making an affidavit of marriage can be quicker and more convenient than ordering a duplicate copy. An Ontario notary public or commissioner of oaths can draft the affidavit for you and witness your signatures. They just need the date you were married and details about your marriage, such as the names of your witnesses. If you are applying for the Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Security benefits, make a statutory declaration of legal marriage instead.
When you divorce, both you and your spouse complete an affidavit of divorce. The affidavit includes information about both of you and any children you have. It explains what child support, child custody, and parenting time arrangements you have made. The affidavit states the legal grounds for divorce: separated at least a year, adultery, or physical or mental cruelty. The court uses this information to review your divorce application.
Affidavits of identification are used when you lack other IDs. For instance, the Ontario Student Assistance Program may request proof of Indigenous identity. You can attach an affidavit declaring you are an Indigenous person and describing whether you identify as First Nations, Métis, Inuk/Inuit, or some other group. Have your affidavit signed by a commissioner of oaths or notary public before you submit it.
You bought a new SUV. Looks sharp! Now you want to transfer your old car to your son. Making a sworn statement to gift a family member with a used motor vehicle allows you to transfer it without paying retail sales tax. A notary public or commissioner of oaths can witness and sign or seal your completed affidavit of transfer. Take the form, proof of Ontario vehicle insurance, and your driver’s license, Safety Standards Certificate, and vehicle ownership permit to Service Ontario. It’s that easy.
Being coerced to sign can make a personal Will invalid. An affidavit by witnesses to a Will is used in court to demonstrate that the will-maker (or “testator”) was in fact the person who signed the Will. While it is not strictly required to make a Will valid, it is required in order to commence the probate process. It can protect your estate, or a loved one’s, from being challenged in court.
You can settle some estates without probating them. For instance, if the deceased had very few assets, their bank may release their funds to you with just a copy of their ill, death certificate, and proof of your identity. Probate court can also be bypassed by leaving assets to designated beneficiaries. Investments like RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, and life insurance policies can be distributed without the formality and expense of probate court, provided the deceased left them to named beneficiaries, instead of their estate.
Estate administration taxes are waived for Ontario estates under $50,000, so yes, in that regard, you can. You can also have a commissioner of oaths or notary public make an affidavit to ask the court to dispense with the requirement that you post a bond to administer a small estate. Even though an estate is small, you may still be required by financial institutions to provide a court order to release funds in bank accounts or investments. This protects the institution if other next-of-kin make claims.
An example of when an affidavit of service is used is when you give notice to a deceased’s heirs of the deceased’s passing. The affidavit confirms to the court that the heirs are aware of your intent to apply for consent to administer an estate. It lets estate beneficiaries know you have filed an application for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee (with or without a Will) and are following probate court rules in distributing the estate.
Make a statutory declaration to give to Canada Post. Whether you are an estate trustee, personal representative, executor, or next of kin, you can have mail redirected to you by having a statutory declaration witnessed by an Ontario commissioner of oaths or notary public. If there is no ill, the oath confirms you have consent from all other next of kin to request the deceased’s mail.