Changing your name

Changing Your Name: What You Need to Know Beforehand

Have you ever thought about changing your name? The process to legally change your name is actually simpler than you think. Before moving ahead with your decision, it’s important to give the situation careful thought, as the ease of the process itself is not a reflection of how easy the transition to a new name might be.

There are plenty of reasons why someone would choose to change their name. Some of these reasons will feel lighthearted and perhaps more impulsive, while others will have a sense of urgency due to an unfortunate circumstance.

For example, one of the most common reasons someone would consider changing their name is simply because they don’t like it. The sound of your name, having your first and last name rhyme, or an unfortunate pairing that easily lends to jokes from those around you are all valid reasons to dislike your own name and therefore wish to change it. Another common reason for changing your name is if you’re currently going through a divorce, and have taken another surname.

How to Legally Change Your Name

The process for changing your name usually requires a court order, depending on your state’s local laws. You will likely be required to write a petition for the name change, explaining your reasoning for the request, as well as fill out additional paperwork to be filed with your court clerk.

As a first step, do some quick research online for your state to understand the steps you’ll need to take, what paperwork you will need to bring with you, and the fees you will be responsible to pay. Fees can vary from as low as $150 to as high as $500, depending on what county you are in.

Keep in mind that in some states, you may be able to begin using your new chosen name without going through any formal process. The only issue with this is government and financial agencies won’t recognize your name change, which may or may not matter to you personally. Consider whether you would mind using your original name on formal documents, and having your friends, family, and new acquaintances call you by your preferred, new name.

If you do head down the formal process route, after you have filed the appropriate paperwork with the court clerk, you’ll need to notify any agencies that know you by your old name. This will include Social Security, the DMV, the IRS, and more. LegalZoom has a comprehensive list that’s a great reference to ensure you aren’t forgetting anyone. You will need to have your court order, marriage certificate, or divorce decree handy when contacting agencies to notify them of your name change. You will also likely need to have your birth certificate on hand as well, which is luckily very easy to get a hold of if you aren’t sure where your official or copy is!

Don’t forget to update all important documentation after changing your name!

After Changing Your Name

With the paperwork and formalities out of the way, the easy part is over. You might be wondering what we’re talking about. Easy? Filling out paperwork and jumping through legal hoops while notifying what feels like everyone under the sun – that’s easy? Well, it depends.

If you changed your last name due to getting married, or took back your maiden name after a divorce, you might not notice a big change in your day-to-day life. Sure, people might accidentally slip and use the wrong last name. That will happen, however, you might notice a bigger adjustment if you change your first name.

Changing your first name can feel like changing your identity, which can be very liberating in some situations. Try not to take offense if family and friends refer to you by your old name, especially if they’ve been calling you that name for a long time. Not everyone you know will be receptive and accepting to your name change, and this is something you should be prepared for. Be confident in your decision and your new name, but understand the adjustment may not come easily to everyone.

We wish you the best of luck in the process, and are happy to help you with any vital record needs as you’re preparing to legally change your name. VitalChek is your leading source for government certified vital records, helping you to skip the waiting in line while keeping your data safe and secure!

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