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Here comes the bride's name change
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Alerting the Social Security Administration is critical because if you don't officially make the change before you file your first tax return with your new name, the name and ID number on your 1040 won't match Social Security records. That, says Bruce Gray, a CPA in San Dimas, Calif., will cause the IRS to reject your return. "This can be a problem particularly if you are filing at the last minute, as it may cause the need for an extension if not timely resolved, or may even make your filing delinquent."

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Next, your car, company and other accounts
Now it's on to your state's department of motor vehicles for a new driver's license. This photo ID card will greatly simplify other name changes. And while you're there, change your motor vehicle's registration to reflect your new name.

Of course, you'll tell your employer of your new name, so that it will be reflected on your post-marriage paychecks. They're much easier to cash when your endorsement matches your new driver's license.

You'll also want to make sure that your company benefits, such as your health insurance coverage and retirement account, show your new name. This also is a good opportunity to update the beneficiaries on work-provided benefits, such as life insurance or your 401(k) plan, as well as look into whether you want to include your spouse under applicable company coverage.

From this point, your name-change route is much like the one you take when you move. The agencies and companies that you need to inform of your new name include:

  • bank or credit union.
  • brokerage and other investment accounts.
  • mortgage company or landlord.
  • credit card companies.
  • department store accounts.
  • insurance companies or agent (auto, home, life, etc.).
  • medical offices (your doctor, dentist, etc.).
  • utilities (phone, electric, natural gas, heating oil, etc.).
  • state and local (city and county) tax boards.
  • passport office.
  • post office.
  • voter registration board.
  • other miscellaneous accounts and memberships (Internet service provider, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, auto club, alumni association, etc.).

Pay special attention to your creditors. Even if you keep paying your bills, if you don't notify the companies and businesses with which you have accounts, your good credit history can disappear.

"Failing to report name changes to creditors can cause your married name credit history to be nonexistent," says Gray, "as they will not record any credit history under the married name, only the maiden name."

It wouldn't hurt to notify the credit bureaus, too, although a spokesman for Equifax says the companies track individuals by Social Security number. So as long as you notify your creditors, your name will be changed as they make their reports on your account to the credit report company. But letting them know directly will reinforce that change.

And don't forget to call your attorney so that official changes are made to legal documents, such as your will, living will, health care proxy, trust, power of attorney and any contracts, says Bridelaw.com's Smith.

 

 
 
Next: "If you get divorced, you'll have to do it all over again."
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 RESOURCES
Changing names on a credit card account
When sharing taxes might not be smart
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