It’s doubtful you like to think of your upcoming wedding and new marriage as a legal proceeding, but nonetheless, getting married changes your identity under the law as well as on an emotional level. If one or both of you is planning on changing your names, you’ll need to know how to get that information to the government simply and officially. While state rules may vary somewhat, here’s a basic guide to changing your name when the wedding bells have finished ringing.
Before you enter the murky process of name-changes, sit down with your future spouse and make sure this shift is something you both want. While some people feel it’s traditional for a wife to take her husband’s name, many modern couples are bucking this trend in favor of hyphenating, taking a new last name as a couple, or having both spouses keep their original name. Since your name is likely a major part of your identity, both personally and professionally, it’s important to sit down and make sure that your name-change plans are fair, balanced, and reasonable.
Start With Certification:
Once you’ve decided how to proceed with your name change, you’ll need a certified copy of your marriage certificate, which you can typically obtain from the county clerk in the county where your wedding took place. You may need multiple copies, but typically at least one is necessary to change your name with the Social Security office. Keep in mind: a certified copy of your marriage license may be different than the ornamental copy you are given by the clerk when you file your marriage license. Be sure that the copy you obtain is certified for legal purposes.
List and Prioritize:
Make a list of every agency, creditor, and company that will need to be notified of your name change, then put them in a prioritized order. Typically, you’ll want to start by changing your name with any organization that could affect your taxes, employment, or legal standing; in the US, this means prioritizing the Social Security agency, as well as any professional organizations, such as medical boards, that license you in your profession. Each agency may have its own procedures for completing a name change, so check with each one to make sure you have all the necessary documentation and paperwork.
After the essentials are taken care of, move on to moderately important agencies. Your name will likely need to be changed for your driver’s license, banking and credit accounts, mortgage or student loan accounts, medical insurance, and voting registration. Your place of employment may require documentation for tax purposes. Typically, these moderately important tasks should be completed within sixty days of your marriage.
Gather up Loose Ends:
Figure out what name-change tasks are the least time-sensitive and save those for last. Changing your name on online accounts, with alumni or volunteer organizations, on memberships to clubs, gyms, and other organizations, doctor’s offices, and other companies or groups are still important, but typically can be gradually changed over the first year of your marriage.