If you plan to change your name, there are several important documents that will need updating. The most important of these is your Social Security card number and driver’s license. Both require you to legally file for new documents representing your new name. Even after a name change, you’ll still want to hold onto a few records of your former name because sometimes it’s necessary to prove who you were, instead of who you are now.
Some name changes can happen quite easily. A woman changing her name upon marriage is merely required to submit her marriage license, possibly along with her birth certificate, to get a new Social Security card and driver’s license. Men who want to change their last name after marriage run into more difficulties. They must legally file for a name change with the courts prior to being allowed to use a new name after marriage.
If you simply plan to change your name because you don’t like it, you will also have to submit formal name change documentation, and for minor children, this frequently means amending a birth certificate too. Once you do make the change, you’ll again want to get a new Social Security card, driver’s license, and passport, if you have one. These documents are the most recognizable forms of ID for which a change is required.
Other documents may also require a name change, but this can vary depending upon the state in which you live. If you have a will, you should change it to reflect your new name. Bank accounts, credit cards, voter registration, powers of attorney, and car registration may all need to be adjusted as well. While you may not be legally required to change your name on some of these documents, it makes sense to have all your documents in the same name. This saves you from having to search for old ID to prove that you are the person named in them.
Other places where you may also want to change your name are at schools you attend, places of employment, or on any real estate or stocks you own. Any business contracts you entered before changing your name should be updated. Changing your name on many of these documents is often an informal process, especially if going from a single to a married last name, or married to divorced last name.
Some companies and government agencies may require proof of your legal right to use your name. This is why it makes sense to start with the big identifying agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Administration. They will normally provide you with the necessary proof you need to change the name on any other documents.