Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Scrivener’s Affidavit or Corrective Deed

As important as the wording of a deed is and as carefully as the document is prepared, mistakes happen. When that occurs, a Scrivener’s Affidavit or Corrective Deed is filed. (Remember that the name of the documents will change in the various states.)
This post was inspired by a woman at a recent presentation who asked if I wouldn’t have found something I had missed when I transcribed the deed. Transcribed the deed? Was she really suggesting that in this age of photocopying that I hand write a copy, word for word, from the document? Yes.

We agreed to disagree about the importance of this traditional step. Never having the time or the need to know the deed that intimately in my work as an appraiser, I couldn’t really see what was to be gained. I pointed out to her that most errors on a deed are in the names, especially the middle initials, and in the legal description. If a person who prepares deeds professionally makes mistakes on the description, how can a genealogist expect to get it right. Truce.
Whatever you choose to do to get the most out of a deed, read it very carefully or take the time to transcribe it, be aware that more experienced people that you make mistakes and correct them. 

A scrivener is a somewhat antiquated term for a clerk or copyist who prepares legal documents. If an error in a deed is minor, such as the spelling of a name or a middle initial is wrong, a Scrivener’s Affidavit is recorded. This document is used when you only need to clarify an aspect of the deed.
A Corrective Deed is used to change or substantially modify the description of the property, add or delete a grantor or grantee, or add other information that affects the title to the property or its description.  This would require the signature of the grantor and would be in the grantor/grantee index using the names you would expect.

On the other hand, Scrivener’s Affidavits are or can be indexed under the name of the scrivener and not the parties to the deed, making them really hard to find. Luckily, they are not used to change major items, but we genealogists would like to see the name or spelling changes. If you are lucky, the original deed affected may be noted in the margin of the affidavit or corrective deed. On the original deed, the book and page of the correction should be noted. This would be the ideal situation, and I hope you find it that way in your jurisdictions.

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

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