What Is an Affidavit of Death? 

An Affidavit of Death is used in order to inform businesses, courts and other places to swear that a person is dead. This legal document is a sworn statement that can legally state that someone has already passed away and can be submitted or used to inform insurance companies, banks, businesses or any other organizations that the person has already died. This affidavit can allow a family member or the beneficiary to receive their death benefits sooner and take the ownership of the inherited property or close the deceased’s existing accounts from any banks or organizations. This can only be used once it is written and signed by a notary public. Although an Affidavit of Death is not a death certificate, it can be used in conjunction with a certified death certificate. This type of Affidavit can only be written and signed by someone who is close or has first-hand knowledge of the person’s death.

Types of Situations When an Affidavit of Death Is Needed: 

An Affidavit of Death is most commonly used in situations wherein it involves the transfer of the name of the property or the property itself from the decedent’s estate to his or her beneficiaries, this may include the following: 

Joint Tenancy– An Affidavit of Death can be used by allowing a surviving joint tenant to notify the company or the state of their husband’s or wife’s death and that the title to their property that they both held in joint teac property that the couple held in joint tenancy should be changed to in order to reflect the surviving spouse is now the new and sole owner of the said property. Trustee- There are some couples who entrust their properties to a living trust which is called as co-trustors. In this situation, if either of the spouses dies, the property which is entrusted to their co-trustor will pass it to the surviving trustee. With the help of an Affidavit of Death it can allow a surviving spouse in order to establish that their spouse has died and that they are now the sole owner of the property that the husband and wife held as co-trustors. Death of a Spouse – In facilitating a transfer of a real property to a surviving spouse after the death of their partner, an Affidavit of Death can also be often useful to the surviving spouse for different other situations such as removing the name of their deceased spouse’s name from all joint credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts and etc, transfer funds in which the deceased spouse was held solely, transferring the title of community property directly to the surviving spouse and providing proof of eligibility in order to receive the retirement benefits from a pension owned by the deceased spouse. Death of a Grantor– Transfer on Death or T.O.D designation may require an Affidavit of Death for the beneficiary in order to receive or claim the funds from deceased grantor’s, checking account, savings account, etc. Death Intestate – If the person who dies without a last will and testament, the state intestacy laws will be the who will dictate on how the deceased’s estate will be distributed to the living heirs. With the help of an Affidavit of Death intestate can allow a person to identify among themselves as the heir to the decedent’s estate and to lawfully inherit the real or personal property from the decedent, in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws. Affidavit of Heirship – Like an Affidavit of Death, interstates can allow a person to identify who among them is the heir when the decedent dies in a intestate, with this an Affidavit of Heirship may be filed by a neutral third-party in order to identify the person that can be an heir to the decedent’s properties and to be able to establish the claim to the decedent’s left property. In order to do this, the neutral third-party should have an intimate and extensive knowledge of the deceased, their family and their loved ones. Notice to Creditors – An Affidavit of Death may be used to inform the deceased person’s creditors that they have already died. Insurance Policies – A person who is listed as the beneficiary of the insurance that the decedent had prepared may be required to present an Affidavit of Death in order to legally confirm the death of the decedent and to collect the life insurance policy proceeds or death benefits. 

How to Create an Affidavit of Death? 

Creating an Affidavit of Death is never easy and this is the least of things that you want to do after you lose someone in your life. But this is also important in order to avoid unfortunate circumstances most especially when you are claiming the properties of your deceased loved one. By creating this Affidavit, one must be filled out by someone, which is referred to as the Affiant and must attest under oath that the decedent has already died and that they have a lawful claim in order to be part or claim the decedent’s estate. Luckily, it’s no longer that hard to create your own Affidavit of Death as we have a handful of ready made affidavits that you can choose from and just download it according to the affidavit that you will be needing and just fill in the necessary information about the decedent. Follow the steps below in order to create an affidavit of death that can be legally accepted in the court of law: 

1. Include the basic information of the decedent 

The affiant who will be filling up the Affidavit of Death must be able to supply the necessary information of the descendants such as the date of death, date of birth, full and legal name, it is no longer that necessary to go into further detail as a death certificate will also be shown upon filling up the affidavit, but information regarding the decedent’s estate, value and description of any assets that the affiant will be claiming will also be included while filling up this affidavit. 

2. Identify the people who will be involved 

Only someone with firsthand knowledge of the decedent’s death should be held liable and responsible for drafting and signing the affidavit of death. As such, state laws have the authority to dictate who among the family members of the decedent can file this affidavit and in most cases, it is the surviving family members or spouse. As stated above, the affiant will be responsible in creating the affidavit of death, the affiant will be required to fill up their full legal name and residential address if it will be needed in the affidavit. Other details that may include the affiant’s age, social security number and relationship to the decedent may be useful in order to be used as proof or for proper identification. 

3. Include a sworn statement

A sworn statement must be included since this is a written statement of fact related to a legal proceeding such as the Affidavit of Death. It is signed by the declarant to state that all the content written and submitted is true and that the affiant will acknowledge that the penalty of perjury may follow if the contents are not true. This is important in order to maximize fairness and the likelihood of obtaining an accurate account in legal proceedings, most especially if the individual provides information. 

4. Sign and notarize the affidavit 

Lastly, the affidavit should be signed by the affiant in the presence of a notary public. As long as the affidavit is notarized it will be considered as valid and legal. But there are some states that permits the disinterested witnesses to acknowledge an affidavit without having it notarized, you can also do this if it is allowed, Verification from a witness or from a notary public is necessary since this will be used as a legal basis to confirm the accuracy of the claims made in the document by the affiant. 


How would I be able to know that I need an Affidavit of Death?

If your loved one, family member or spouse has died and the bank account, property or insurance are under their name, the following should be retitled, close the account or claim the death benefits of the insurance. Most of the time, an affidavit of death is required. Whether you or one person is the appropriate person to execute the affidavit it all depends on the number of circumstances. Answering questions such as are you the sole heir and or are you a named trustee, will help you decide whether you or someone else is the person who should fill out and submit the affidavit. The affidavit of death will include information about the decedent’s personal properties, bank account or insurance, such as the legal description, tax parcel number bank accounts, account numbers, or the need to identify the personal property. That is why only first-hand knowledge of the decedent is required.

The answer is no, lying about a death in an affidavit of death in order to be able to transfer a property is not legal, instead you can get criminal and civil consequences for committing fraud.

How would I be able to get a certified copy of the death certificate in order to accompany the affidavit of death?

State laws govern who can obtain a death certificate from the Department of Vital Records. While there are some states that limit who can get a death certificate and can only be claimed by the qualified applicants. In most cases, qualified applicants must be a family member, spouse or the decedent have a legal relationship with the deceased, there must be a court-ordered guardian or attorney of record. While there are states that do not limit access at all.

What are the consequences of not having an affidavit of death?

Without an Affidavit of Death, you may not be able and allowed to act on the decedent’s behalf in certain situations, including but not limited to:

  • Selling property owned by the decedent
  • Closing the bank accounts under the name of the decedent
  • Transferring the decedent’s estate to their rightful heirs
  • Transferring the proceeds of the decedent’s saving account, checking, retirement accounts ot his or her surviving spouse.

Does an affidavit expire?

Affidavits typically do not have an expiry date, but there is a possibility for an affidavit to have conditions that will lead to it being terminated. It should be noted that an affidavit is only valid for as long as the claims made in the document remain true and correct. If the affidavit has information that has been falsified by the affiant and evidence can support this, it will no longer be accepted in the court of law.

An Affidavit of death protects everyone involved by reducing the possibility of fraud. On the other hand, it expedites the transfer and distribution of a person’s estate, bank accounts, etc, to the rightful heirs. If there may be any dispute that will happen during the claiming process, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer regarding your situation, seeking legal advice ensures that the appropriate measures are taken and in order to avoid other problems that may arise between you and the other person who will try to claim the properties.