Changing Addresses with the USPS… not so fast
Changing Addresses with the USPS… not so fast

We have previously covered that our senior citizens are at risk for identity theft, financial exploitation, and scams. As a result of increasing identity theft concerns for citizens of all ages, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has responded by requiring identity verification for all changes of address. This applies to both online and in-person Change of Address Requests. While it may seem like a good idea, both procedures present unique challenges to persons who are older, less mobile, unable to act on their own behalf or those who do not have access to the required technology.  

In the realm of estate planning, elder law, and probate, the administration of estates and guardianships is hard enough. Now, however, the USPS has made it even more difficult to get an address changed. The ability to get the mail of a decedent or ward or other client is critical because often the fiduciary lacks information about the assets or income of the decedent/ward. The mail might contain information such as finances, insurance, other income, and maybe even other friends and family members! Furthermore, some institutions will only mail proof of the asset or income to the address in their records. This poses a unique issue for our clients in need of public benefits and thus threatens their ability to achieve or maintain benefits.

Below are the rules - pay close attention to the online procedures to see how this can present obstacles for many people, in particular elderly persons, persons without access to technology, those without adequate transportation, and those acting on behalf of others.  

Online procedure

You will need:

  1. Mobile phone with online capabilities
  2. Internet connection
  3. Credit/Debit Card
  4. Email Address

Online Change of Address requests must be submitted at Mobile phone number verification is required and is used to complete the online identity proofing and verification process, which may include a one-time passcode or verification link. There is a $1.10 identity verification fee. An email address is also required to submit the request online.

After submitting the request online, USPS will mail a Move Validation Letter to the old address and a Customer Notification Letter to the new address. The Customer Notification Letter will contain a confirmation code. 

In addition, online requesters will also receive a Change of Address Confirmation via email, which also contains the Confirmation Code. The Code must be maintained for future changes.

Of special interest, currently, online Change of Address requests cannot be used for Executors or Administrators of estates for deceased persons. The initial process can be started, but the letter containing the Confirmation Code must be taken in person to the Post Office for identity validation. See below the procedure for in-person requests.

In-person procedure 

You will need:

  1. Change of Address Form (PS Form 3575) (now only available at the Post Office)
  2. Photo ID (Driver’s License/State ID, Passport, Uniformed Services ID)
  3. Secondary Form of ID (Recommended to bring: Lease, Mortgage, vehicle registration card, home/vehicle insurance policy/card
  4. Persons requesting a Change of Address on behalf of another person/s must also:
      1. Present their own personal, valid, current ID
      2. Provide documentation showing authorization to submit the change of address for someone else
        1. Minor persons: Birth certificate, custodial documents, Letters of Guardianship
        2. Incompetent/Incapacitated persons: Power of Attorney, Letters of Guardianship
        3. Deceased Persons: Letters of Authority

The requester must request and complete the Change of Address form and provide sufficient ID and documentation showing the grant of authority, if applicable, to the post office clerk. After completion, USPS will mail a Move Validation Letter to the old address and a Customer Notification Letter to the new address. The Customer Notification Letter will contain a Confirmation code, which must be held for future changes.

We understand that the rule change was designed to protect, but with it came additional hurdles which are often felt by some of the most vulnerable persons. As seasoned practitioners, we have already identified and resolved some of these issues. Specifically, we’ve worked on protocols for getting an address changed when a formal fiduciary is NOT appointed by the Court and the best method for quickly requesting a change of address when the fiduciary is not available to go to the Post Office in person. Let Reminger’s seasoned planning and administration lawyers help you navigate the complexities of this procedure change and assist with all of your related probate and long-term care needs. 

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