Quitclaim deeds are frequently used to transfer property between family members, to clear title problems or to transfer property after a divorce. No matter how careful the document drafter, mistakes may occur when drawing deeds. The severity of the mistake will determine how easy it is to correct.
Evaluate the mistake. Mistakes may be uncovered when reading the deed or may not be discovered until the owner is attempting to sell or mortgage the property and a title examination unveils the problem. If the mistake is a minor but obvious misstatement in the legal description, such as a misspelled subdivision name or an incorrectly stated property line measurement, the document drafter may be able to correct the problem with a document referred to as a “scrivener’s affidavit.”
Determine who prepared the original deed. Most states require that a deed recites who prepared it. If the deed was prepared by an attorney, find out if that attorney is still practicing law in the area. If the deed was prepared by a person buying or selling the property, an address may be listed on the deed.
Contact the preparer of the deed and inform him of the nature of the error. Instruct him to prepare an affidavit or prepare one for his signature that verifies his identity and confirms that he prepared the deed containing the errors. The affidavit should further attest to the nature of the error and include language to clarify or correct it. The affidavit will also contain the recording reference, such as deed book and page number, for the original deed for cross-reference purposes.
Instruct the individual to sign and have the affidavit verified or notarized as required by state law. Record the affidavit in the real property records in the county where the deed was recorded and the land lies.
If a legal description is drafted so badly that someone reading the deed is unable to determine what property is being transferred, the grantor and grantee must correct the deed. The grantor is the current property owner while the grantee is recipient. An erroneous legal description occurs when an incorrect lot number is recited or when a description contains incorrect measurements such that the property cannot be accurately drawn or plotted. If a deed contains an insufficient notary acknowledgement or fails to meet procedural requirements for signed deeds in the state, the grantor and grantee may also need to correct the deed.
Contact the grantor and grantee. In order to correct the deed, both parties must re-sign the correction document.
Prepare or have a correction deed prepared according to the laws of the state where the property is located. The correction deed should reference the document it is correcting and may specifically state the reason for the correction.
Sign or have the document signed in the presence of a notary public or person authorized to acknowledge deeds in the state. Record the signed correction deed in the public land records in the county where the property is located.
Some states may allow quitclaim deeds to be corrected by re-recording the original with marked-up corrections.
A deed may also need correcting when one of the parties’ names is misstated.
A scrivener’s affidavit must be properly prepared according to the laws of your state.
Some state laws require that deeds be prepared only by attorneys.
In some instances, a court action referred to as a “deed reformation action” may be required to correct errors in a deed.
- Indiana Legal Services, Inc.: Quitclaim Deeds
- Utah County Online, Recorder: Recorders Guide for Dealing With Affidavits & Re-recorded Documents
- Norfolk Circuit Clerk’s Office: Deed Requirements
- Mississippi Legislature: House Bill 928
- Knox County Register of Deeds: Legislative Update for Register of Deeds
- Chicago Bull, Volume 1, Edition 39: Corrections, Re-recordings & Cures, 2008 Edition
- Fayette County Clerk: Deed of Correction
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images