The wedding went off without a hitch. The honeymoon is a pleasant memory…and now it’s time to take care of serious matters like changing your name.
The key to a successful name change is knowing what to do and when. One false step can make a person vulnerable to identity theft, credit damage and trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.
Stay ahead of the game by following these seven steps:
1. Order certified copies of your marriage certificate. Many institutions will require a certified copy to complete a name change. Approach those institutions in order of importance beginning with the Social Security Administration.
2. Apply for a new Social Security card. Follow these directions on the Social Security website for changing a name on a Social Security card. Complete the application and either submit it online or at your local Social Security card center. Once you’ve notified the Social Security Administration of your name change, wait 48 hours before going to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get your driver’s license changed. (This gives the SSA time to update their records so the DMV can see the change in the system.)
3. Head to the DMV. A newlywed should bring their existing driver’s license, their birth certificate and a letter from the Social Security Administration office that shows their new name and proof that a new Social Security card was requested.
4. Contact your employer. Update your work records so that your new name is listed on paychecks and benefits. This is a good opportunity to adjust tax withholdings and review insurance coverage to include new family members.
5. Notify your bank or credit union. You may have to make the name change on your account in person at the local branch of your financial institution. Be sure to ask ahead for required documentation.
6. Let your creditors and loan agencies know. To build a credit history under your new name, make sure to update your credit card issuers and lenders.
7. Alert other institutions, organizations and companies. The first two are the most important (the SSA and DMV). They will let the IRS know of your name change. Then move on to the following organizations: landlord or mortgage company, insurance companies, medical offices, investment accounts, attorneys (for your will and other legal documents), professional licensing boards, alumni groups, U.S. Department of State (for passports), U.S. Postal Service, voter registration office, and utilities. After that you can update magazine subscriptions and other items as they come up.
It’s easy to change your name if you’re aware of the documents that are needed and the steps you have to take.
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