How to Change Your Name Legally

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.

How to Change your Name Legally

Steps to take to change your name: 

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:
  •  Social Security Administration,  (some state motor-vehicle departments  require updated social security cards prior to changes being made)
  •  Bureau of Consular Affairs (for passports),
  •  United States Postal Service, and the
  •  Department of Motor Vehicles (for a new driver’s license or state identification card).
  •  Voter Registration and Elections Office

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.

Effects of Changing Names

When changing names and a new name is established, the attributes of the previous name recede into the background over a seven-year period. Similarly, the new name’s traits are added during this time. It is like an hourglass where the sands, or attributes, shift over a seven-year time period from being on one side of the glass to the other. The new name integrates itself into the personality while, simultaneously, the old one’s effects are diminished. This means a person totally loses the influence of the old name, unless the old name was the birth name. The name given to a person at birth is like the old flooring under the new carpet. It is part of one’s foundation. A person cannot completely lose the characteristics of his/her birth name; it is still there, just like the original flooring. Yet it is not as visible because other people will see the new traits or carpet first. So, even when a birth name has been changed, it is still the foundation. No one ever fully gets rid of the birth name’s influence. This also applies to adopted children and even people with amnesia.

Are you voluntarily changing your name, or being forced to change it?

Changing names is not as unusual as one might think. Many people use a different name than their original birth name. This is done in two different ways. First, when it is voluntary. It is an individual’s conscious choice and the person decides his own new name, as when William prefers being called Bill, or Robert prefers to be called Bob.

Second, when it is involuntary, and your name gets changed against your will as when another person thrusts a nickname upon you. Many people use nicknames that they have accepted from someone else, usually a family member. Impressions of people change when given a new name.

For more information on nicknames, go to the page on nicknames.

Changing names to gain more star power

One reason people voluntarily change their name is to give their monikers more ‘star appeal’. Celebrities and their agents are aware of the importance of a name and want a name that can light up a marquee.

Changing names made a big difference in the lives of these movie stars. The name Archibald Alec Leach just doesn’t have the same chivalrousness as does Cary Grant, nor does Betty Joan Perske sound as spirited as Lauren Bacall or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta sounds as appealing as Lady Gaga. Larry King is a Hollywood personality who changed his name at the behest of a Miami radio producer because Lawrence Harvey Zeiger just wouldn’t do.

Changing names? How can face reading help?

Planning on changing your name? May we suggest seeing both someone who specializes in names,  AND also seeing someone who specializes in reading faces.

What does your face say about you and would you like your name to match so that you are congruent? May I suggest Naomi Tickle? As Naomi says: What Makes People Tick and Why – The Answers Are in the Face.

She’s an International Speaker, Career Consultant and author of “What Makes People Tick and Why”

Find her here:

Another expert in face reading is lawyer Mac Fulfer, author of “Amazing Face Reading” – A great tool for sales, personal development, team building and communication.

He is internationally known and a personal friend. He learned to read faces to give him an edge while choosing jury members.

You can reach him via his website,

Both of their skills are remarkable and so right on! Another great way to know more about yourself!

Changing Names During Marriages and Divorces

Deciding whether or not changing names when getting married is beneficial can best be accomplished by comparing the maiden name to the married name. This will often indicate where the individual is most likely to change and how the environment around the person will change. This comparison also gives an indication of the challenges and gifts that will come with the marriage.

Some people do not choose to adopt their partner’s name. In these cases, only by comparing the partner’s names is it possible to evaluate how healthy the marriage will be. One can still evaluate how the marriage is likely to influence the couple’s personalities. Comparing the partners’ full names will indicate where the likely conflicts, if any, may occur in the marriage. Hyphenated names can also be discussed to see if this is a viable solution.

During a divorce, some people choose to keep their acquired married name and some do not. For those who wish to forsake the married name, it is nice to know that its influence is totally negated within seven years because it is not a birth name.

Many divorcees choose to keep the married name in order to keep the positive characteristics that were added. To summarize, effects from married names can be negated. The influence of the birth name is never totally negated.

Do you want to know whether it is in your best interest to take on your fiancee’s name? Schedule a reading with Sharón and find out.

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