2020 Documentation Considerations

By now, most of us are just getting used to the idea of no longer writing “2019” or only “19” on everything from checks to legal documents.   If you’re like me, for about the first week, you had to scratch out “2019” and try to make it appear to be “2020” on just about everything.  A few years ago, I even sent in a water bill for January with the previous year’s date on it.  Within a week, I received a sweet note back with my check stating that they could not take a check over a year old.  As you finally settle into 2020, you may not realize that this year is unique in the documentation and offers some minor concerns needing to be considered.

2020 is the first and only year in our lifetimes that we will deal with a unique issue in dating documents.  This individual issue can cause problems for legal documents, contracts, checks, and almost any potentially binding document.  In the past, if you have signed a document, you may have signed it like “Clinton S. Thomas, 1-15-19” or “John Doe, 12-10-16”.  Anyone looking at those two examples would know that I signed the first one in 2019 and that John Doe signed the second one in 2016.  Unless you are looking at some ancient documents, nobody would assume I signed the paper in 1919.  This year presents a problem for the potential of date changes.  Consider this signature, for example, “Clinton S. Thomas 1-15-20”.  Most of us would automatically think the document was signed in 2020, correct?  However, what if someone else added to the signature and made it look like this “Clinton S. Thomas 1-15-2015”?  The addition of a couple of digits to the end of my signature can change the date from 2020 to anytime back to the year 2000. 

While the issue may be small for most people, you may want to consider legal documents, checks, and even contracts.  The fact is there are unscrupulous people living in 2020.  Those people, with ill intent possibly toward you or others, could easily take a signature or document signed in “20” and make it appear to be approved many years before the actual signing date.

Most of us will never face any problems with merely signing with a “20” as the year.  However, if you want to play it safe and ensure that nobody comes behind you and changes your date, I would suggest you consider signing everything with “2020” this year.

If you’re worried that this problem will arise again in the future, don’t.  I’m sure that when 2121 rolls around, the Four States News will issue a story reminding people to consider writing out the full date at that time.  I think I already have the opinion piece on the calendar for January 2121.

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