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If you ever move, it is important to update your address with your financial institution. Schwab, in particular, regularly uses paper notices of major account changes to add an extra layer of security. Luckily, you can update your address online. Unfortunately, it is not as straightforward as the average investor suspects it will be.
After logging in to Schwab Alliance at https://www.schwab.com, hover over the “Service” tab at the top and then you will notice that there are two options on the menu that comes up that might have your address on them. They are “Contact Information” and “Account Addresses.”
This is because both pages have your address on them and, alas, updating one does not necessarily mean that it will update the other.
Start your address change journey on the “Contact Information” page. On this page, you will see your name followed by three sections: 1) Primary Email, 2) Phone Number, and 3) Address. In the “Address” section, you should see both “Home (Legal)” and “Mailing.” Mailing might say “Same as Home (Legal).”
To edit your address, click the blue “Edit,” fill out the form that pops open, and then click the green “Save.” The average person would think that they are done now, but you might not be.
Now, you should click on the “Account Addresses” tab. On the page that loads, you will see a lot of different arrows pointing towards your various accounts. Each account will have an “Account Email” as well as an “Account Address.” You may need to click on the arrow to make the address portion of the account listing visible.
While the Contact Information page showed what Schwab has as your user profile’s current address and email, this Account Addresses page shows where Schwab will actually send mail for each of your accounts. They keep the two as separate fields because you may want one account mailed to a different location than the remainder of your accounts. For example, you may want the information for your corporate account to be mailed to your work office but your personal assets mailed to your home.
Unfortunately, the average investor does not utilize this feature, so this separation creates an extra pain.
To complete your address update, you will need to review each of these account addresses to ensure they are accurate. Any one which is incorrect will need to be edited by clicking the blue “Edit.” In the pop-up that opens, you will be given the option of keeping the address the same, toggling it to your current profile address, or “Enter a new address.”
After reviewing all of your account addresses, you then need to take a minute to think if there are any other account owners. For example, if you own a joint account, your joint tenant’s address, even if that tenant is your spouse, was likely not updated by your online address change. Also, you can update your own retirement accounts, but those of your family member’s will not be visible on your login and thus not able to be updated.
If you’d like to be able to update all of your family’s addresses, then you will need to set up Power of Attorney so you can manage the family finances on all accounts that have a different account holder, including your joint accounts. Without the POA, you will need to ask your spouse or children to log in to their accounts separately and update all of their addresses as well.
Unfortunately, even with a POA, updating their addresses via the method above is insufficient to update all of their addresses online. A power of attorney can update all of the account addresses but it requires either a phone call or signed letter to Schwab to update the other person’s Schwab profile address.
So after updating all account addresses as described above, then write out a letter that says something like:
In an exercise of my Durable Power of Attorney, I would like you to update the address for (Name) on all his accounts to…
Sign the letter with a so-called wet signature. Scan the letter. And then upload that scanned and signed letter to Schwab Alliance via the message center.
This extra step will ensure that both your and his address on the accounts are updated. You can also exercise your DPOA and achieve this update by calling Schwab Alliance.
Without the POA and if you have a lot of accounts owned by many different people, you can sometimes save a considerable amount of time and headache on this issue by calling Schwab Alliance at 800-515-2157. You can change your address over the phone and then put each family member on the phone one at a time to either request that their address be changed or give Schwab permission to take your instruction on the address change. In this way, you can get all your addresses updated in 10 minutes or less rather than nagging everyone to log in to their accounts.
Before you make any address change at Schwab, you should set up a mail forward with the USPS at your old address to forward to your new address. Schwab will mail a letter, both to your current address and to your old address notifying you of the address change. If you don’t want the new resident of your old house to know about the change, set up the mail forward before updating your address.
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