Lately, among my personal social circle as well as among colleagues and clients, the issue of whether to change your name has come up. Name changes are far less common for men than women as when a woman marries she has the choice to maintain her maiden name or take the name of her spouse. There are an increasing number of women who are staying with their maiden name for many reasons but arguably, it may be a lot easier.
So what is involved in a formal name change? Depending on your reason for changing your name, there are different court procedures which must be followed to officially change your name. It is possible if you have just gotten married, proof of a marriage certificate will be sufficient to change your name. However, change of name upon divorce or simply because you want to change your name requires court action. If this is something you are considering, contact your local court for more information.
Who needs to be notified? While this list is not inclusive, it provides an idea of the many entities which need to be contacted of a name change.
- Post office (via change of address form)
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Social Security Administration
- Department of Records or Vital Statistics (issuers of birth certificates)
- Banks and Other Financial Institutions
- Creditors and Debtors
- Telephone and Utility Companies
- State Taxing Authority
- Insurance Agencies
- Registrar of Voters
- Passport Office
- Public Assistance (welfare) Office
- Veterans Administration
But don’t forget! A name change should also be reflected in your estate plan. A name change likely affects the name of your trust and your name as trustor and trustee. When amending your estate plan, you must also remember that this changes the titling of your assets including title to your real and personal property. It is often very important to hold onto your government issued identification card and passport which reflects your prior name should it be needed to transfer your assets.
If you have questions regarding your name change and your estate plan, please contact us.