Do You Know Your Name?

I'm writing this after meeting with yet another client who was surprised, upon seeing his birth certificate for the first time, that the name he was using was not the same as the name in his birth certificate.

For example, my friend Betty Schwab, who is also a client, thought her name was Elizabeth until she got her birth certificate and discovered that her birth name is Betty.  (I am giving this example with Betty's permission.)

This has happened with clients whose names are Allen/Alan, Joseph/Joe, and William/Bill/Billy, for example.

Why is this relevant?  Because identification is becoming increasingly important to financial institutions and the TSA.  We know of one financial institution that refused to accept a power of attorney because the agent's name in the power of attorney did not exactly match the name in the agent's driver's license.  As a result, in our document production process, we are now asking for copies of our clients' driver's licenses and also the driver's licenses of the agents whom the clients are naming as fiduciaries in their documents.  We do not mean to seem nosy, intrusive, or cause you extra work, but to help you with your documents being accepted. 

The moral of this story is to keep in your permanent records a certified copy of your birth certificate AND to have the name in your driver's license match your name in your birth certificate.  Of course, if you have married and changed your name, the names won't match, so you should also have a certified copy of your marriage certificate in your permanent records.

You never know when you will need your birth certificate.  When my first husband, David Phillips, died, the Social Security Administration required me to submit my birth certificate with my application for benefits.  I did not have a certified copy of my birth certificate, so I ordered one from Ripley County, Indiana, where I was born.  This delayed processing the SSA benefits.  When the birth certificate arrived, it contained the wrong date of birth, so I had to order another one, which further delayed the benefits.

If there is a problem with your name and you want to change your name, you can do a name change proceeding with the probate court in the county in which you live.  We handle name change proceedings but, frankly, they are so easy to do that you may be able to handle your name change yourself by accessing the forms on your county probate court's website. 

It seems like life gets more complicated all the time, doesn't it?