How Do Changing Names Impact My Estate Plan?

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Names are important in estate planning.

What is in a name?

Quite a bit actually.

Proper identification is essential when it comes to estate planning.

According to a recent nwi.com article titled “Estate Planning: Name changes and the estate plan,” using inexact naming can cause a lot of problems.

Changed names can complicate estate plans.
Estate planning documents should reflect name changes.

This is particularly a challenge when there are women in your life and in your estate plan.

Marriages, divorces, and remarriages all play havoc with an estate plan.

I have three daughters.

One of them has already changed her name in marriage.

My second daughter is soon to follow suit.

When surnames change, so should your estate planning documents.

Why?

There are a few good and practical reasons.

The first is when different family members share a name after marriage.

For example, your daughter may be named Rachel.

Your son gets married to a lovely woman named Rachel.

Even if they have different middle names or initials, this can still cause problems.

If you want your daughter and not your daughter-in-law to inherit, it will be best to update the name in all estate planning documents.

Without doing so a case could be made … for the wrong heir.

Yikes!

These are not hard to accomplish.

Your attorney may include “also known as” or “now known as language.”

Another case where updating names is important would be when appointing your health care agents.

If you appointed your daughter as an agent, she may need to prove her identity with her updated ID.

To make things simple, the names in your legal documents should be consistent and up to date.

Review your estate plan with your attorney when someone in your estate plan has a name change to ensure you get out in front of any potential future issues.

Reference: nwi.com (October 20, 2019) “Estate Planning: Name changes and the estate plan”