Affidavit or Declaration

An Affidavit is a written document in which its maker (the “Affiant”) swears under oath before someone authorized to administered oaths, such as a Notary Public or County Clerk, that the statements made in the document are true.  Practically speaking, here, this means that to make a lawful Affidavit, you have to:

  • Find a Notary Public,
  • Take your document to the Notary,
  • Recite the oath,
  • Swear that the statements are true,
  • Have the Notary sign the document, and will likely
  • Pay the Notary a fee for the service —

often an inconvenient, time-consuming experience.

Fortunately, many states, including Washington, provide (for most cases) a more efficient alternative: a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury.  For example, in Washington, RCW 9A.72.085 provides as follows:

RCW 9A.72.085

Unsworn statements, certification.
Whenever, under any law of this state or under any rule, order, or requirement made under the law of this state, any matter in an official proceeding is required or permitted to be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by a person’s sworn written statement, declaration, verification, certificate, oath, or affidavit, the matter may with like force and effect be supported, evidenced, established, or proved in the official proceeding by an unsworn written statement, declaration, verification, or certificate, which:

(1) Recites that it is certified or declared by the person to be true under penalty of perjury;

(2) Is subscribed by the person;

(3) States the date and place of its execution; and

(4) States that it is so certified or declared under the laws of the state of Washington.

The certification or declaration may be in substantially the following form:

     “I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington that the foregoing is true and correct”:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Date and Place) (Signature)

This section does not apply to writings requiring an acknowledgement, depositions, oaths of office, or oaths required to be taken before a special official other than a notary public.

The legal equivalency of a sworn statement followed by a notarized signature (ie, an Affidavit) and a Declaration of Penalty of Perjury (except for oaths of office) is expressly acknowledged in the 2003 King County Probate Policy & Procedure Manual, §§ 1.1.5 & 1.1.6.

Consequently, in most cases a Declaration (also known as a Certification or Verification) under Penalty of Perjury is legally equivalent to an Affidavit — and substantially more convenient to make.  As indicated above, the usual form of such a Declaration is as follows:

     I declare under penalty of perjury according to the laws of the State of Washington that the following is true and correct:



Date:   On       ________________________________


Place:  At       ________________________________


Signature:       ________________________________

Oftentimes, the initial sentence will be modified by adding at its end “to the best of my knowledge:”, which addition is used uniformly on this website.

One disadvantage of using a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury instead of an Affidavit is practical, not legal.  People, especially institutions, and particularly banks and brokerages, are used to dealing and familiar with Affidavits — to them, “that is how business is done!”  So, despite the legal equivalency between Affidavits and Declarations under Penalty of Perjury, your “person in possession” might demand the use of an Affidavit on the mistaken belief that the law requires its use and its use only.  In that case, if you use a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury, you could find yourself in the position of having either to educate them as to the law or to accede to their misinformed demand.  For that reason alone, this website recommends the use of an Affidavit for this transfer of personal property form.

Fortunately, Courts are familiar with Declarations under Penalty of Perjury.  For that reason as well as for the sake of convenience, this website uses, instead of an Affidavit, a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury for all forms to be filed at Court for which a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury may be lawfully used.  The only form on this website legally requiring the use of an Affidavit is the Oath of Personal Representative.