An essential part of creating a comprehensive estate plan is the execution, that is, signing, of the plan documents. While the execution of some documents, such as Wills, must be witnessed by two witnesses, most documents must be notarized. These include Trusts, Powers of Attorney, certain Assignment forms and Deeds.
What does notarization entail? It means signing the documents before a Notary Public commissioned by the State of California. We have such notaries on our staff.
Notarization has several requirements. One of them is that the signer must provide the Notary Public with valid proof of his or her identity. This requires the presentation of a valid, government issued picture identification. The most common documents used for this purpose are a valid, unexpired driver’s license, valid unexpired passport and valid, unexpired identification card issued by the DMV.
While this may seem like a no-brainer, each year we encounter persons who do not have such identification. This is typically an older person who has stopped driving either voluntarily or involuntarily and has allowed his or her driver’s license to expire. Those persons also typically have also stopped traveling to foreign countries and have also allowed their passports to expire. Since they are not often asked to prove their identities in their day to day lives, they often don’t take any actions to replace these critical forms of identification.
What should you do if you or a loved one no longer has a current driver’s license or passport? The answer is simple. Visit a local office of the DMV office and apply for a California Senior Identification Card. There is no testing or charge for seniors to obtain such a card and they are valid for ten years. This is in contrast to driver’s licenses which are only valid for four years.
Impact of Real ID Act
Thanks to a new federal law known as the Real ID Act, your driver’s license may no longer be the comprehensive form of identification you have come to know. The Act sets high security standards for driver’s licenses and takes effect October 1, 2020.
What does this mean for you? Your regular state driver’s license may be good routine business transaction when you need to show ID, such as driving, buying liquor or opening an account. But for some federal issues, such as boarding a plane or entering secure federal facilities, you’ll need a Real ID driver’s license. Getting it is a more complex and time-consuming process than for a regular driver’s license.
In California, you must complete an application and then go to a DMV office in person . You need to bring one document to establish birth or legal presence; one document to verify your Social Security number; and two documents to your current address. Visit the California DMV website, www.dmv.ca.gov to learn more.
For those who don’t want to bother with the new Real ID procedures, there is an alternative: A current U.S. passport serves the same purpose as a Real ID for federal purposes. So if you still have your old driver’s license after the effective date of the new law, bring your current U.S. passport to the airport instead, whether it’s for domestic or foreign travel.