Maybe you’re getting married or divorced. Maybe your name is hard to spell or pronounce. Maybe your reasons are religious, or maybe you just prefer a different name. Are you adopting a child and changing his/her last name? How do you make it legal? Who do you have to notify? How do you make the notification? Does it matter whether you’re getting married or divorced, or you just want to change your name?

Changing your name is similar to changing your address. All of the people and entities you notify about your new address also need to be notified when you change your name. However there are some additional notifications that need to be made and notification of a name change is generally more formal than that of an address change. In some states you can simply change your name through common usage, however to get your name changed on legal and financial documents you will likely need to change your name legally.

So does it matter why you’re making a name change? Well besides the fact that you can’t change your name for the purpose of committing fraud, the reason you’re changing your name and when you do it has an effect on how the name change becomes legal, the fees involved, and how you prove the change is legal to all those you notify.

In general to legally affect a name change you need to go to probate court and pay a fee. However there are two exceptions: when you get married; when you get divorced. In order to avoid the usual name change fee, you need to change your name at the time you get married or divorced. Should you decide to initially keep your maiden name and change to your married name later on, you will have to go to court and pay a fee to get it changed. The same is true when getting divorced. If you keep your married name initially after the divorce and decide to revert to your maiden name, say when your children grow up, then you will have to go to court and pay a fee. After your marriage license or your divorce decree is certified you can use these documents as proof that your name has been changed legally.

When you go to court to change your name under other circumstances, or to change the name of a child you may need to go to probate court in person rather than just being able to send in the appropriate papers. In some states you may also need to make the change public by publishing the notice in the newspaper.
Once you’ve changed you name legally, here are the agencies and institutions you may need to notify. Notification procedures vary and proof of your name change may be required.

Start Here: Social Security Card;
Your Employer: First notify human resources and check to see who else they will pass the information to. You may need to notify accounting for payroll and expense checks as well as IT to get your email address and any IDs changed.
Government: Voter Registration; Driver’s License and Car Registration; IRS, State Tax Board; Veteran’s Administration; Passport; Library Card; Post Office
Financial Records: Bank Accounts; Investment Accounts (including retirement plans); Mortgage; Credit Cards; Trusts
Insurance: health; life; dental etc
Medical: Doctors; Health Care Proxy; Living Will
Legal: Contracts, Power of Attorney
Utilities: Telephone; Electric; Gas/Oil; TV/Internet service
Other: Clubs; Memberships; Online Communities; Publication Subscriptions
When changing a school aged child’s name, or an adult continuing their education, remember to get the appropriate school records changed.

If you’ve ever moved you know that notifying every one of your new address can take a lot of time, and with the exception of financial institutions it’s pretty easy and straight forward. With name changes you will likely need to fill out many more forms and make many copies of your marriage license, divorce decree, etc. to submit with the forms. Should you find you need help getting this done please call us at Hands of Time. As a personal concierge service we are here to help you get things like this done.

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