{Day #26} Change my Name, Change my Name

Article by -- Cindy Hobson {TheKnot.com}

To change your name or not to change your name, that is the question. Before you decide, read up on all of the options and learn what you need to do to make it legal.
Reasons to Change Your Name
Let's face it: The evolution of women's roles aside, many traditionalists still expect married couples to have the same last name. So, at least convenience-wise, taking his name will make your life easier, especially if you have children. You won't have to explain to that perfectly annoying stranger at the kids' school that you two really are Beth and Sam's parents -- and you are married -- even though your names are completely different. Another potential upside of taking his name: It might be better than yours. If your family stubbornly hung on to Skunkowitz for generations -- or your parents thought it would be cute to name you Jackie Mackey -- this is your opportunity for an upgrade. Other pluses: no arguments over painting the mailbox, easier monograms, and less complicated dinner reservations. Plus, it's kind of nice sharing a name with the man you love. There's something very "connecting" about it.
Reasons to Resist Changing Your Name
These days it's perfectly acceptable for a woman to keep her own name. After all, you've had your name your whole life, and, if you're like most people, it's pretty much your identity. Taking his name may feel like you're losing you -- as well as perhaps being unnecessary, overly traditional, and even sexist. The change may also mean people you've known throughout your life won't recognize your name or know how to find you -- a good or bad thing, depending on who they are. Perhaps professionally you have made a name for yourself, and you sure do like the way it sounds when your assistant answers the phone "Ms. Schmidt's office."
How to Change Your Name
If you've decided to change your name, after the wedding it's time to make it official. (By the way: Contrary to popular belief, obtaining a marriage license that uses your new last name does not automatically mean you've changed it.) Start with your Social Security card and driver's license: Without these, you won't get very far down the list of other important changes. Here's a list of four basic steps to new-name bliss.
1. Get Proof
Arm yourself with a certified marriage license -- be sure it has a raised seal, which means it's authentic. Call the office where your license was filed to get copies if they aren't automatically sent to you.
2. Set Social Security Straight
Contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213; an automated system will talk you through the name change process. Your new card will be free -- if you're contacted by a company that claims to do this for a fee, don't buy it. These companies have nothing to do with the SSA and should be reported to authorities.
3. Motor on Down to the DMV
Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles, which requires you to make a personal appearance (read: wait in line). Bring a book to read and every form of identification you can lay your hands on. No matter what, do not forget your certified marriage license.
4. Fill in the Blanks
Once you have a social security card and driver's license in your married name, other changes should be fairly easy. Some institutions only require a phone call; others may ask for a copy of your marriage certificate or social security card. Be sure to notify:

  • Friends and family
  • Employers/payroll
  • Post office
  • Phone company and other utilities
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Credit card companies
  • Schools and alumni associations
  • Voter registration
And don't forget to get your new name on these documents as well:
  • Passport (Do not do this before the wedding -- your passport name must match the name on your ticket and all other travel documents! It's easier to take your honeymoon with your maiden name.)
  • Mortgages and leases
  • Wills
  • Insurance policies
To help you some more, you can find many handy name change kits online!

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