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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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