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What's in a name

July 6th 2017

Have you ever sat down and looked at all your ID to see if your name is consistent on all documents?  Many people use different names on various documents (legal, medical and financial) without considering the ramifications of the variety of names.  Some examples of naming discrepancies are:

  • using a short form (Don instead of Donald)
  • not using middle name (Linda Doe instead of Linda Jane Doe)
  • using middle name as your first name (James Doe instead of John James Doe)
  • using middle initial instead of middle name (John J. Doe instead of John James Doe)
  • using maiden name on some documents and married name on other documents
  • using a nickname (Mickey Black instead of Michael Patrick Black)

Your property deeds, Wills, and Powers of Attorney likely have your full legal name.  However, many other documents may have inconsistencies which could cause problems on your credit rating, your estate process and even travel.

Credit Rating

If you use different variations of your name at different financial institutions, you may have more than one credit rating on file and your records from various loans and credit cards may be scattered amongst these different ratings.  When you’re applying for future credit, a financial institution may not be able to see your loan repayment history if your accounts have been opened in a variety of names.


If you book flights or cruises using a variation of your name, that doesn’t exactly match your passport, you could be denied travel.  Another good reason to have all of your ID with your proper full legal name.

Estate Planning

As mentioned above, your Will likely has your proper full name, however if your bank accounts and assets are registered in a variation of your name, your executor may face challenges in selling your assets or wrapping up your estate.  They may need to obtain further legal documents or affidavits to deal with your estate assets.

Take a few minutes to review your documents and records and note the discrepancies.  If you’re too busy to deal with the inconsistencies all at once, then at least address them as your various ID cards come up for renewal, or credit cards expire, or the next time you visit your financial institution.  Your full legal name is your identity, therefore it’s very  important to be consistent in all facets of your life when it comes to your legal name!

- Betty Anne Flynn