Do you know your real name?


Today you need to use your full legal name and have REAL ID to show to the Notary Public to back it up.


Welcome to 2021 and the world of the ‘Real ID’.  Let me tell you about your need to have a real ID.  When I was baby lawyer, it didn’t matter if the name you used was your correct, legal name or not.  In fact, most of my clients never used their legal names on any legal document.  John Jones could be Jay Jones, or John David Jones, or David John Jones on his ID.

12 Step Estate Planning Checklist

The events of 9/11


The need for Real ID is directly tied to the attacks of 09/11. These events were life changing to all Americans in many different ways. We were attacked on our own soil for the first time since World War II. In the aftermath of the attack, the legal world changed. All of a sudden, in order to represent a client, we needed to know their legal name.

Change to Real ID


Originally the Real ID was called a Traveler’s ID. That was not a good idea. My clients kept telling me they didn’t need to change the name on their driver’s license because they did not intend to travel. Now, the name of the ID, Real ID, reflects what the ID is. This license says that you are an American Citizen, you live in one of the 50 states, and these facts have been verified.

What is a legal name?


Your legal name is the name on your passport. If you are male, it is probably the name on your birth certificate. If you are a married woman, the name on your birth certificate is probably not your married name. For a married woman who changes her name, we need a certified copy of her marriage certificate. Or, if you have gone to court to have a legal name change, your legal name is the name on the Court Order.

Mis-matched Names


What if the name on your driver’s license, passport, social security card, bank account or voter registration card don’t match? You have work to do because all the names have to match, and they all have to be your legal name. If you really hate your legal name, it costs about $400 in Maricopa County to change it. That $400 is money well spent.

Where to Start


The best place to start is your passport. If you don’t have a passport, get one, even if you have no plans to travel outside the US. Once you get your passport, the next document you must match is your social security card.


We are talking about the name on your social security card, not your social security number. The next document you will need to change is your driver’s license. Right now, because of COVID, the need to change your driver’s license to a Real ID has been extended.

What to Do: Driver’s License


Here is the list of documents you will need to change your driver’s license into your Real ID.Here is the list of documents you will need to change your driver’s license into your Real ID.

  1. Current Driver’s License
  2. Current Passport
  3. Current Social Security Card or if you don’t have one handy,
    • Your current income tax return, signed or
    • Your last W-2 with your social security number on it.
  4. Two utility bills, less than 60 days old with your name and address.  If you don’t have utility bills you can use:
    • Bank Account Statements
    • Lease Agreement



The Real ID verifies:


  1. You are licensed to drive.
  2. You are an American Citizen.
  3. You have a valid social security number.
  4. You live where you live.

Next steps


Once you get your Real ID, you need to go to:


  1. Your bank so they know who you really are.
  2. Credit Card Companies.
  3. All your investments, insurance, and everything else matches your real name.

Your Voter Registration


In Arizona I recommend you change your Voter Registration Card at the same time that you change your Real ID. If try to vote with mismatched identification, in Arizona you will not be able to vote.

Estate Planning


All of your estate planning documents need to have your legal names. But not just you. Anyone who has a job in your estate plan like your Power of Attorney or Trustee, also has to use their legal names. So do your beneficiaries. The documents will reflect everyone’s legal names. If the legal name does not match the name on the document, short of a court order, the documents won’t work.

This will affect your ability to use bank accounts and credit cards in the very near future. Don’t get caught with the wrong ID. It may be valid, but you can’t use it.

Do you have your Real ID?