While you are a unique person, your name is likely not as unique as you might think; as such it is important to further define yourself. U.S. Census Bureau explains there are at least 151,671 different last names and 5,163 different first names in use in the United States. With over 300 million people in the U.S. alone it is common people will find others with their same name. As such, when drafting estate planning documents we are often looking to clearly identify a person. Using one's address is a means of accomplishing this.
It hasn't always been that way. It wasn't too many years ago attorneys would place a person's social security number within the document. For obvious reasons, attorneys no longer use social security numbers within estate planning documents to identify people. Today a birth date, address, or phone number is used.
Does that mean every time you move you need to modify your estate planning? For the vast majority of people the answer is no. You should have your documents reviewed every 5 years or so while you are in retirement; however, that does not mean you need to change them every time you move.
There are several factors to consider when thinking about changing your documents:
- Has your family structure changed (meaning you desire to have another person act as your Agent or Surrogate or someone has passed away, been born, gotten married, etc.)?
- Are you attempting to establish a new residency? Many people moving to Florida are trying to cut ties with their prior state to lower taxes.
- The law has changed in a way that makes their documents less effective (rarely will a law invalidate a prior document).
So what should the daughter who called our office do? My recommendation is to copy her prior identification and keep it with the document. By taking this action the person can later show the series of events.
Neither the daughter nor the mother should write on her original document. Marking on a document can be seen as a manner of revocation of the document.
Keep in mind an address or phone number is not a statutory requirement to the document being valid. There should not be an issue as each state by federal law must honor a document drafted in a valid way from another state (assuming they were a resident of that state at the time).
Until next time, make a plan, work the plan, and enjoy life:)