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A Checklist for Changing Your Name After Marriage

by Natalie Smith

Although more women are electing to retain their maiden name after marriage, 80 percent of women still choose to change their last name. For many women, changing their last name is an important step toward solidifying their new family. It can also be a complicated process, and the steps to legally change your name vary by state. However, the basic process is similar.

Social Security

The first step to changing your name legally is to take your marriage certificate to your local Social Security office. The Social Security office will ask for a photo ID (with either your new or old name) and the marriage certificate. You also must fill out an Application for a Social Security Card, also called an SS-5. It is important to change your name with Social Security right away because if you do not, processing of your tax return might be delayed and any benefits that you receive might be delayed or lost.

Your State

Many states require that you change your name with Social Security before you can change your driver's license. Check your state's requirements to ensure that you have all of the correct documentation before you go to the driver's license bureau. Usually the required documents include your changed Social Security card, your marriage certificate and your old driver's license. In most cases, the license bureau will then take your old license and issue you a temporary license. You will receive your new license in the mail in three to six weeks.

Credit Cards and Bank Accounts

Once you have your new license, you are ready to change your name on all of your credit cards and bank accounts. Some credit card companies will let you request a name change over the phone, but many will require that you write a brief letter detailing your request, and then mail or fax them a copy of the letter, along with a copy of your new license and your marriage certificate. For bank accounts or your employer's payroll, go to the bank with these documents; a bank representative will change it right away and request a new debit card for you.

Other Accounts

Don't forget all of your other accounts. Your gym membership, professional memberships, library card, email accounts and insurance policies all need to to be changed as well. The process of changing your name with these accounts will vary by what kind of account it is. Email is simple to change, but you may have to fax in documentation of your name change for your insurance companies.

About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

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