This week we received our first joint piece of mail that assumed my soon-to-be married name. I thought that I was a nerd for thinking it was exciting until I looked at Aaron who was grinning like a fool as well. It really got me thinking about the major shift in my identity that is coming up soon. I have always planned that I would take his last name. I do feel that I'll miss my former name as it is short and sweet. It's catchy. I'm often called my first name and last name together as if they were hyphenated by friends and co-workers.
Not all women take the spouse's last name. You'll often see a hyphenated version, and some women don't change their names at all. (Side note: I always wonder what will happen if Mr. John Smith-Taylor marries Ms. Jane Johnson-Thompson and combine their names. Will she be Mrs. Smith-Taylor-Johnson-Thompson? Yikes!)
Anyhoo, I'm changing my name. I've come to find out this is much easier said than done. Let's take a quick look at the lengthy process of legally changing your name.
- First, make about 25 copies of your marriage certificate. Many agencies and companies will require a copy for their documentation.
- Next, you must file a SS-5 Form
with the Social Security Administration. This is priority one as you cannot apply for much of anything else without your new social security card. The Social Security folks will also update the IRS. Yay!
- Now that you have your social security situation set, you can work on your state driver's license and motor vehicle registration. Yes folks, this means a lovely afternoon at the local DMV.
- Next stop is notifying your employers of your new name so that your paychecks can continue to be cashed without name-mismatch hassle. Along with notifying your employer, you'll also need to update your benefit information (health insurance, 401K plans, beneficiaries, etc.).
Now we have a whole slew of places that you'll need to notify. You should have a relatively easy time doing this as you'll have your new social security card and driver's license now. Some places will let you make your changes over the phone or via the internet, while others require a specific form and maybe your signature. (Click here for a generic form letter that you can use when contacting these offices by mail.) Also, credit card companies and other such accounts will provide name change information in their monthly statements.
- banks and credit unions
- brokerage and investment accounts
- mortgage company or landlord
- credit card companies
- attorney (for changes to your will, trust, power of attorney, etc.)
- department store accounts
- insurance companies or agent
- medical offices
- state and local tax boards
- passport office
- post office
- voter registration board
- internet service provider
- newspaper and magazine subscriptions
- clubs and associations
If all of this brouhaha seems overwhelming or time consuming, there are name-change kits available to purchase for anywhere from $15-50. They range in services provided, and you may find them more appealing than going through this rigmarole solo. Here are a few recommended kits:
And so to the future Mrs. Smith-Taylor-Johnson-Thompson, I wish you good luck and God speed on your name change paperwork!