As you prepare essential paperwork associated with life-changing events, it’s sometimes easy to neglect the obvious. When you change your name due to marriage or divorce, for example, you may be so busy completing the essential forms to reflect the change through the Social Security Administration, your banking institutions, and frequent flyer programs that you forget to notify important advisors. You’ll also want to alert those same advisors to any changes you make when creating or changing your will. Here are some key items to keep in mind regarding these two life-changing events:
Reporting a Name Change
Have you recently changed your name? If so, it can affect your taxes. The name on your tax return must match Social Security Administration (SSA) records. If you’ve changed your name due to a marriage, divorce, or for any other reason, you probably already know you must notify the SSA of your name change. You’ll need to file Form SS-5 (“Application for a Social Security Card”) to alert the SSA of your name change. The SSA will issue you a new card which will reflect your new name with the same SSN you had before the name change. Don’t forget that this not only applies to you but also to any dependents associated with you who’ve changed their names. It’s your responsibility to notify the SSA if your dependent has changed his or her name (for example, if you’ve adopted a child necessitating a change in the child’s last name). Once your new name has been officially registered with the SSA, you’ll want to be sure to update your driver’s license through your local Department of Motor Vehicles, contact your banking institutions, credit card companies, employer(s), utility companies, schools and alumni associations, mortgage company, insurance company, voter registration office, passport office, and frequent flyer or preferred buyer programs to reflect the change.
Last, but certainly not least, it’s imperative that you contact your professional services advisors – your accountants and attorneys – to let them know of the change so that, as they conduct important work on your behalf, everything officially submitted aligns with what the SSA office has on file for you. This can avoid unnecessary delays when it comes to filing your taxes and other critical documents.
Be sure to alert your Untracht Early advisor if you’re considering a name change or have recently changed your name so that your new name is accurately reflected on your tax documents.
Tips on Handling a Will
As you know, having a will in place ahead of time protects you and your family should the worst come to pass. Here are some important reminders you’ll want to be sure to keep in mind both as you’re having your will created and afterwards:
• Consult with both an attorney and your accountant. Although wills written without legal advice are generally valid, an attorney can help ensure that the will actually accomplishes your objectives. Your accountant can help draw your attention to financial considerations you should focus on so you can rest assured that your wealth will appropriately pass down to future generations, as you’ve designated it to.
• If an attorney is not used, know the requirements for witnessing and executing valid wills in your state. Follow them precisely. A will is more likely to be invalidated for mistakes in execution than for mistakes in writing.
• Store the original will in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or home safe, or with an attorney or county probate court. Inform a few trusted friends or family members of the will’s location so it can be found when needed.
• Review the will periodically. Do not write changes on an existing will or it may be invalidated. To make small changes, sign a formal codicil following your state’s rules for witnessing and executing wills. To make substantial changes, you’ll need to execute a new will.
• If you move from one state to another, have the will reviewed by an attorney in the new state.
• Include provisions for alternate dispositions of property in the event the primary beneficiary doesn’t survive you or a couple dies simultaneously.
Please contact your Untracht Early advisor if you have questions on life-changing topics like these that you’d like your advisor to be apprised of.