How to Change Your Name

How do you change your name? Each state has a different process for getting your name changed. Some require you to put it in the local paper for a specified amount of time; others require that you show you don't owe money anywhere. Most simply have you go to the courthouse in your town, fill out paperwork and pay a $100-$200 fee and then get a court date to go before the judge.

The judge inquires why you intend to change your name. If he accepts your answer, he says to go back to the window where you got your original paperwork and pick up your copies of the "official" name change paper, called a deed. It is at this time you can also pay for extra original copies.

I suggest having three total. Once received, go get photocopies, as you'll need to send some in to get your name changed, like with the airlines. File one of your official copies (deeds) in a folder where you can always find it later.

Carry the one of the official deeds with you and go get your new driver's license and other government issued ID changed, like your social security card. You will also want to show the official deed to your bank. 

You will need to mail an official copy to the passport office in order to change your name. Go to any post office and ask for the forms that are required when you change your name. You will get this copy back.

Call credit cards and other places where you do business and ask for their procedures when you change your name. Institutions are used to name changes as many women change their name when getting married.

Steps to take: 

Now you have to abide by the deed and as you have declared you will no longer be known by your previous name. You must inform everyone of your new name. You will have to tell your bank, your tax office, your employer and anybody else where you have interactions. This is quite easy to do.

You simply write a cover letter and send it to everyone along with a copy of the deed. Because the deed is a legally binding document, everybody you inform about your new name has to accept it.  This process may take some time but eventually, all correspondence you receive will have your new name on it. 

  1. A person must officially register the new name with the appropriate state authorities.
  2. Important government agencies to be notified in any order:

Remember to inform other institutions such as:

  • Household bills/utilities
  • Employers
  • Banks
  • IRS
  • Doctors
  • Mortgage company
  • Insurance 
  • Credit Card companies 
  • Airlines where you have frequent flyer miles
  • Schools you have attended where you have transcripts on file

Online Options:  

Online services are available to assist when you are changing your name either through direct legal assistance or automated form processing.  When somebody changes their name, they have to sign a deed that declares they will be abandoning their old name and adopting a new one. When you change your name, you are swearing an oath that from the day forward of signing the deed, you will no longer respond or declare yourself by your previous name.  All that is involved to change your name correctly and legally is to follow the rules of a deed. The deed is signed by the person changing their name and by the clerk who administers the paperwork.

Is a Lawyer Needed to Change Your Name?

You do not need a lawyer when changing your name. However, the reason name changes are usually done through Lawyers is because a deed is considered a legal document.  It is also a legal document that must be worded correctly for it to be valid.  After the deed has been written and signed, the new name is now your name by Law.

So back to the deed. How do you write a legally binding deed by yourself? This is actually easy once you have a template.  Any deed for a name change that has been written before will be worded in the same way. You just change the names in the deed to your old and new names and that is really it. So long as an unrelated person signing the deed witnessed you it is a legally binding document.

Steps when you change your name yourself, without going to court:

  1. Choose your new name
  2. Plan the day you want to change it (beware of travel & passport issues)
  3. Arrange for a non-relation to witness you signing the deed.
  4. The witness signs and dates the deed
  5. Apply to your local county court division (may need to appear before a judge & pay fee)
  6. You have your new name, so now you need to tell everyone by either appearing in their place of business or by writing them a letter. Remember to include a copy of the legal name changing document.