Get ready for a tedious process if you decide to take your spouse’s surname after marriage. You’ll need to notify various government agencies, financial institutions and insurance companies of your name change.
“Everybody that you would notify of a change of address is probably somebody you would want to notify of a name change,” says J. Kim Wright, editor of CuttingEdgeLaw.com, an online magazine and community site for lawyers.
You can pay for a name-change kit or, like many personal finance chores, save money by doing it yourself. Some places may require an in-person visit to alter a name, while others will let you change it over the phone or by letter. Find out what the protocol is for each place on your list, as the rules and documents required may vary. Make sure to update your address at the same time if you moved to a new residence.
7-step checklist for name change
- Get certified copies of your marriage license.
- Start with the Social Security Administration.
- Get a new driver’s license.
- Update work records and benefits.
- Contact your bank.
- Notify creditors in order to link credit files.
- Continue down the list.
1. Get certified copies of your marriage license
Obtain certified copies — not photocopies — from the agency that filed your marriage license.
“Newly married people changing their names need one certified copy of their marriage license that they will probably never see again to send to the Social Security Administration,” says Dara Strickland, an attorney with Strickland Jansen, P.C. in St. Louis.
2. Start with the Social Security Administration
Begin with this agency because it needs your correct name and ID number for payroll tax withholdings and retirement benefits. A mismatch between your name and Social Security number could trigger a rejection of your tax return.
Having your new Social Security card will also help you change your name with financial institutions and other contacts on your list.
You’ll need to file Form SS-5 with your local Social Security office to obtain a new Social Security card. Notifying the Social Security Administration will also update the Internal Revenue Service of your new name.
3. Get a new driver’s license
Getting an updated license or identification card should make subsequent name changes with financial institutions easier. You may be able to update voter registration as well as your vehicle registration and title in the process. Check with your state Department of Motor Vehicles for instructions.
4. Update work records and benefits
Inform your employer so that paychecks and benefits reflect the new name. Review your tax withholdings and make changes if necessary.
Remember to go over your insurance coverage and beneficiaries now that you have new family members.
5. Contact your bank
Updating your name with your bank or credit union may require an in-person visit. For a name change on your account, the bank will want to see your updated driver’s license, says Wright.
6. Notify creditors in order to link credit files
If you don’t tell lenders of your new moniker, you won’t have a credit history under your married name, which can pose a problem during a credit check.
Once notified, creditors will update their records and report the new information to the credit reporting agencies. TransUnion spokesman Steve Katz says consumers don’t need to notify the agencies directly. Consumers should see the new name on their credit reports within a few months after contacting creditors.
If you’re not sure which companies to contact, you can get a free copy of your credit report at myBankrate.
7. Continue down the list
Then contact the other places on your list, such as:
- Landlord or mortgage company.
- Other insurance accounts (auto, life, home, etc.).
- Physicians’ offices.
- Professional licensing boards.
- Investment accounts.
- Your attorney (to update legal documents).
- Passport office.
- Post office.
- Voter registration board.
- Alumni association.
After getting through all the important updates, it will be a matter of changing your name as you come across miscellaneous accounts and subscriptions.