Have you ever changed your name? Is your name consistent across your identification documents (IDs)? If not, proving who you are in official situations could be a challenge.
Ever since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, scrutiny of all forms of ID by government agencies and financial institutions, all of which operate under Know Your Client regulations, has become intense. So, if your IDs have not kept up with the changes to your name, you may experience, at best, delays and, at worst, restrictions with respect to your financial affairs and everyday life. And, good luck proving that you really are you if your identity is stolen!
Eddy & Schein Client Stories
While helping our clients over the years, we’ve encountered several problems that resulted from name inconsistencies. For example, one client discovered that her middle name – the one she’d been using all her life – was not on her birth certificate, but only on her baptism certificate. Do you have documents with name inconsistencies because of family traditions or changes in life status?
Claiming Insurance Benefits
In working with our client who was executor of her mother’s estate, we found that the names on the death certificate and a life insurance policy didn’t match. We investigated and found that her mother had several name changes over her lifetime, having been married twice. So, her death certificate showed her current married name, but the policy had her previous married name.
We requested a corrected death certificate with the “Also Known As” field filled with her previous married name. With that done, we were able to get the insurance claim processed and our client received her mother’s life insurance benefits.
Obtaining Online Access
When our client tried to register for online banking for an account, she was denied access. Along with our client, we spoke with the bank and learned that the name she used to register online was not the name she used decades before when opening the account. Once she produced proof of her name change, she was able to access the account electronically.
Transferring Assets between Financial Institutions
To simplify personal finances for an elderly client, we’ve been helping her consolidate assets spread across numerous financial institutions. We discovered that virtually every account had been registered using some variation of her name – her middle name or initial, combinations of her maiden and married names, a string of married names.
The form used by the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service – for transferring accounts between brokerage firms – requires that you correctly capture the name on the originating account. Name inconsistencies on the form will cause account transfer delays or even outright denials.
Accessing Social Security and Medicare Online
When our client wanted to replace a missing Social Security card, she tried to register on the Social Security Administration’s website, but couldn’t gain access to her account. She asked for our help, and together we called Social Security on her behalf and ordered a new card on an automated system. When her card arrived, she was surprised to see it had her married name even though she had divorced long ago.
Now, using her previous married name on her card, she can access her account online to download documents or change direct deposit instructions as needed.
Make the changes everywhere.
There are numerous reasons why you might make a name change – taking a different name when marrying or divorcing, reverting to your birth name, changing to a gender-appropriate name, taking on a name of your own choosing.
And, if you’ve made a name change, think through all the documents, accounts, and types of affected transactions. Then address any name inconsistencies and make necessary changes.
Check all documents for consistency.
- Birth certificate
- Social Security card
- Driver license
- Financial accounts
- Paychecks, company ID cards, employment contracts, professional licenses
- Business-owner and partnership documents
- Utility bills
- Insurance policies (life, medical, homeowners, auto, supplemental, etc.)
- Identity-protection services
- Real estate deeds and related documents
- Legal documents including will/trust, power of attorney, health care directive, etc.
- Credit agencies
- Unclaimed funds – Enter all possible name variations. Learn more in our article about unclaimed funds – Do You Know Where All Your Assets Are?
Your Name – Past & Present
Keep proof of all the different names you’ve used, like old driver licenses and legal documents, especially certified copies of any name change decrees.
Take the time now to clear up naming inconsistencies.
Tackling this task will make life easier for you and for those who may need to handle your affairs in the future. Learn more in these articles: Personal Finance Preparedness for Uncertain Times – Part One and Part Two.
If tracking down documents and correcting name inconsistencies seems like an overwhelming task, reach out to Eddy & Schein Group. We can help you manage it, along with any other Personal Finance Management needs.