Can a misspelled name on a Power of Attorney ‘scrivener’s error’ be amended?

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Can a misspelled name on a Power of Attorney ‘scrivener’s error’ be amended?

My father is near death at this time but did sign the original power of attorney. The
bank won’t allow me to transact business with the misspelled name.

Asked on February 1, 2017 under Estate Planning, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) It is legal to amend the POA, but the person making the POA (that is, your father) must sign the amendment: it cannot be amended without the principal (person granting the POA), *except* by a court order. (See below). Note that with word processing programs, unless the POA was written out long hand, if you still have the original file, it would be much easier and cleaner to just replace the original POA with a corrected new one, rather than amend the existing one.
2) A "scrivner's error" does not invalidate a POA (or contract, will, etc.): as long as it is clear whom the person is, the bank should honor it. E.g. say the name is "John Curtin" but it was mispelled "John Curtaine"--as long as from the other information in the POA and context (e.g. the address or other identifying information in it; or if "John Curtaine" gave the power to his son, "Bob Curtin," and you are "Bob Curtin", that also effectively ID's John) who the person is, scrivenor's errors should be ignored. 
3) If the bank refuses to budge on this order and your father is in no shape to amend or revise the POA (e.g. he is mentally incompetent or cannot communicate), you can go to chancery court and seek a court order amending the POA. You can do this on an "emergent" (think "urgent" or "emergency") basis to get into court in days or a week or so, not months. Ideally, have an attorney help you; if you can't afford one or don't want to pay for one, contact the chancery court clerk's office (chancery court is a part or division of county court) for instructions.


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