Changing Your Name After Marriage 3

How to Change Your Last Name After Getting Married

If you’ve just married, or are getting married soon, you’re probably starting to address the question of whether to change your last name. It’s important to know that your name won’t just change automatically – you actually have to initiate the change yourself, with multiple different organizations (like the Socail Security Office, DMV, IRS, banks, your employer, etc.).

Once the name change process is complete, you will get a new Social Security Card with your new name. That makes the name change official, but there’s more to it. Here we have outlined all the steps you need to take, and all the organizations you need to contact, to complete a full legal name change after you’re married.

Buy NowBride Name Change Downloadable Forms
(from US Legal Forms, starting at $27.95)

Overview:

  1. New Bride Step-by-Step Name Change Process
  2. Name Change Forms and Services
  3. Name Change Options and Tradition

1. New Bride Step-by-Step Name Change Process:

Before the Ceremony:
(only if you’re really thinking ahead)

  • Be 100% sure of the new name you’ll be using, because you will need to put it on your marriage license
  • Tell your job your new name and ask them to begin the process of changing things like your email address and business cards if necessary
  • Since the name on any travel documents need to match the name on your identification, use your maiden name when making travel arrangements within the first couple months from your wedding date (i.e. honeymoon)
  • Check the name change policies with your bank, department of motor vehicles (DMV), and other service providers to see if they will need certified copies of your marriage certificate – these can take approximately 2 weeks to be mailed so be prepared in order to avoid delays

After the Ceremony:

  • Start the name change process at the social security office (locations), and bring the completed SS-5 form, a certified copy of your marriage certificate, and identification.
  • The DMV is the next place to visit (locations) so you can get a new license or ID card. In some states, only a copy of the marriage certificate is required, but other states want to see the new name on a Social Security card before they issue license with the new name.
  • Once you have your new Social Security card and ID, and along with a copy of your marriage certificate if needed, you will have enough documentation to change the name on all your other accounts and legal documents (ie: your passport, bank account, mortgage and leases, voter registration, credit cards, utility bills, the IRS, the post office, stocks/bonds/mutual funds, retirement plans, etc.). And yes, you will need to contact each of the organizations you deal with one by one. This is probably the most time consuming part of the name change process.
  • Check with your employer’s human resources (HR) department to ensure that they are using the correct name and that your company changes your tax deductions and withholdings to reflect the fact that you’re married.
  • Contact other institutions and organizations with which you have accounts and memberships. Once you have your new Social Security card and drivers licence or ID (and more copies of your divorce order) you will be able to restore your former name with other organizations (banks, credit cards, Internal Revenue Service (IRS),
  • Start using your new name. Once you’ve obtained new identification bearing your new name you should begin to consistently use that name as your own. And that’s the final step.

Can you make the process a little simpler?

It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? While each individual step in the name change process is fairly painless, the collective effort can be quite a bit of work. “Name change form kits” and “name change services” that help simplify the process are available for purchase online, and they can help cut out a lot of the research and work for you (see next section).

2. Using Name Change Form Kits or Services:

We have reviewed several of the name change form kits and services available online. The ones that consistently receive the best reviews from our editors and our website visitors are from US Legal Forms.

Change Your NameBuy NowFor new brides who want to simplify the process of changing their last name, the do-it-yourself name change kit offers state specific instructions and forms. The “New Bride Name Change Kit” includes everything you need to effect a legal name change in your state. It is a consolidated, easy to use, name change kit for the new bride.

The kit contains all required government forms, every personal record change form, an instruction guide and checklist to help the you change from your maiden to your new married name. Inside you’ll also find:

Six Step Instruction Guide; Checklist; All forms needed to change records for Social Security, IRS, Drivers License, Vehicle Title, Voter Registration, U.S. Passport, Bank Records, Credit Cards, Medical Records, Insurance, Employment, and more.

Buy NowLegal Name Change ServiceOffered as a time saver for the busy newlywed, US Legal Forms’ professional name change service includes all the forms from the do-it-yourself kit above, but offers the additional peace of mind of having professionals review your forms for you, which helps ensure that filings are all handled correctly. Each of the forms from the kit above will be checked for accuracy by specialists before paper copies are mailed out to you. If you need your name change to be handled quickly and accurately, you will appreciate the accountability of the name change service.

3. Name Change Options After Marriage

Background on the Name Change Tradition

Although it’s not legally required in the United States, many women still choose to take their husband’s name after marriage. This is partly because of cultural and religious traditions that have been passed down through generations, and partly because families are typically identified by their surname (aka: last name). This tradition remains the most common reasons for a name change request – and it’s relatively easy to do.

Contrary to popular belief, however, a woman is not required to take her husband’s name after marriage. Each spouse is actually free to keep his or her own name, take the spouse’s name (yes, men can take their wife’s name) or even use a different name altogether. Some couples want to be known by a hyphenated combination of their last names, and there are some who even make up new names that combine elements of each. You can also pick a name that’s entirely different from the names you have now, just because you like it better.

For some couples, such as those who marry later in life, after-marriage name changes are still prevalent, but have declined in recent years. In these situations some women opt to keep their maiden name or adopt a hyphenated version of married and maiden names as a compromise. Despite these new trends, changing your name after marriage continues to be an overwhelmingly common practice.

If you do choose to change your last name to something other than your spouse’s, give careful thought to the name you choose. You will save yourself considerable time and trouble by making sure you are happy with your choice of name before you change any records.

No matter which option you choose, if you make the decision to change your name, there are steps that need to be taken in order to do so legally. In the past, it was relatively easy to change your name simply by consistently using the new name (this is called common law name change). Today it is not quite that easy. If you choose to use a name other than yours or your spouse’s, a court petition is required (which you can obtain through the steps above).

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Discussion

  • rachael russell

    do i have to change my name right away or can i wait a year or so to do it?

  • candi

    what kind of requirements and background checks do they do before changing your last name after marriage?

  • Patrice

    What is the process if I choose to hyphenate my last name? And what is the time frame as my wedding is out of the country?