The painless way for brides to change their name

According to a survey we conducted in Feburary 2010, the majority of brides (78.2%) are sticking with tradition and taking their husband’s last name. For most brides it seems like the obvious choice. However, today’s brides tend to be a bit older than when their mothers got married and therefore have more assets (think bank accounts, mortgages, etc.) in their name. This makes it a bit more cumbersome and involved to change your last name – but by no means impossible. Here are the steps you can take to make sure you cover all your bases.

Before the big day:
You can’t technically change your name until after the event because you need your marriage license, but there are a few steps you can take to get a head start on your name change.

• Apply for your marriage license. You can’t change anything else until you’ve received your marriage license in the mail post-event. Request several certified copies, as photocopies are generally not accepted. You’ll need at least three additional certified copies.

• Book your honeymoon with your maiden name. This is essential if you’re traveling out of the country. All of your documentation still has your maiden name on it, and it’s important that it match your tickets.

• Give your job a heads-up. Your name is on everything from your business cards to your office door. Simple things like your email address and the name on your paychecks will change. Even though you won’t legally change anything until after the event, it’s important to alert your employer of your decision.

• Tell your family and friends. Monogrammed gifts are great, but only if they have the right name on them. Also, hearing family and friends refer to you by your new name will help ease you into using it.

After the big day:
Follow steps in order. The process will take much less time, and you won’t feel stuck.

1. Get a new social security card. You’ll need your new social security card to change everything else. Take a certified copy of your marriage license, completed SS-5 Form, your current SS card and your ID to your local social security office to get a new card.

2. Make an appointment at the DMV for a new drivers license. This has to be done in person. You’ll definitely need a certified copy of your marriage license and your current drivers license. Be ready to have your picture taken and change your address if needed. Call prior to your appointment to verify exactly which documents you’ll need to bring. While there, inquire about how to change the title and registration on your vehicle to your new name.

3. Update your passport. Make sure to use the correct form. If you’ve had your current passport for less than 1 year, use form DS-5504. If you’ve had your current passport for over 1 year, use form DS-82. Print and fill out the appropriate Passport Name Change Form. When you mail or visit the office, you’ll also need your current passport, a certified copy of your marriage license, two current passport-approved photos, and payment for any applicable fees.

4. Notify the IRS (if necessary). When the Social Security Administration has processed your name change, they will notify the IRS within 10 days. If you moved when you got married, fill out IRS Form 8822 so that all tax information is sent to the correct address.

5. Update your address. If you moved, you may also want to change your address with the US Postal Service. This can be done online or in person at your local post office.

6. Register to vote. You’ll need to change your name on your voter registration to be eligible to vote in the next election. Use the Nation Mail Voter Registration Form to update your name, and be sure to check your state’s specific instructions.

7. Let your work know. Visit your office’s HR department and change the name on all of your information. Show them a photocopy of your marriage license, and request that they update any 401k, retirement plan, or medical insurance. You’ll also need new business cards if applicable.

8. For the following changes, you can mail a letter informing the party of your name change. You may want to include the following: maiden name, new name, address, account number, social security number (if applicable), and a copy of your marriage license (if applicable).

• Update your finances. Call your specific bank and request that your records be updated. You’ll probably need new checks and an ATM card.

• School. If you’re a student, call or stop by your registrar’s office. Depending on the institution, you may need to bring your updated social security card, driver’s license, and/or passport.

• Insurance policies. Automobile, home, medical, life, renters, and disaster insurance all need to be updated when you change your name. Request new insurance cards and/or updated policies.

• Memberships. Update memberships like the following: gyms, frequent flyer programs, alumni associations, library cards, video rental cards, school ID, magazine subscriptions, and unions.

• Utilities. Usually a phone call will suffice when updating your name with your utility companies. Just request to have your accounts changed to your new name.

• Professional licenses or organizations. You can call or write to update them of the change.

Above all, avoid name-changing kits! It may be time consuming to handle every change yourself, but you’ll have the assurance that it’s done right.

*This article is not intended to be legal advice. For more information on the legal ramifications of changing your name, consult your attorney.