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Here comes the bride's name change
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How to get the word out
Now that you know who to notify, what's the best way to get them the information?

The process varies by institution. Some will let you change the name on your account just by making a call. Others require a letter or a specific form. It's rarer, but in some instances in addition to completing a special form, you also must get it signed and submit a certified copy of a government or court order to document the change.

Written notification is a good way to make the change. You can use Bankrate.com's form letter for all your notifications so that you don't have to compose a separate one for each account.

You also can make the changes as statements and bills arrive in your mailbox. Most have forms on the back of statements for name or address changes.

"In case you're not sure you've remembered everyone, every time you get mail addressed to your old name, stick it in a pile and respond to them once a month," says Eva Rosenberg, publisher of TaxMama.com. "In about six months, you will have notified anyone that matters."

Getting outside help
If you don't have a lot of spare time or don't feel confident about accomplishing your name change on your own, there is help out there, much of it online. A Google search for "name change kit" yielded more than 99,000 results. Of those Bankrate.com inspected, prices ranged from $14.95 to nearly $50.

"The advantage of those kits can be that they have contact information for many entities all in one place and you can use them as a checklist," says Rosenberg, who recommends kitbiz.com as a low-cost ($24.95) and effective kit.

Brides often use these kits because they take the guesswork out of the process and can help them get organized. But paying for the appropriate paperwork isn't necessary; it's just another option.

"All they do is send you the forms you could pick up yourself," says Ingram. Plus, she warns, your online purchase of a kit could set you up to receive a lot of spam.

Smith agrees. He says he created the Bridelaw.com, a free online name-change resource, to assist those who are confused by the process and "to prevent them from falling prey to those who overcharge for what are otherwise free government forms."

"And remember, if you get divorced, you'll have to do it all over again," says Rosenberg.

Jenny C. McCune is a contributing editor based in Montana.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: May 8, 2006
More stories by Jenny McCune
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