Name change logistics, both practical and social.
January 30, 2013 1:48 PM   Subscribe

My partner is legally changing his first and last name and doing away with his middle name altogether. Help us think of everything? We're in the US.

First, the practical: there are the obvious things that need changing, like drivers license, Social Security, passport card, human resources at work, bank accounts, retirement accounts, utilities, cell phone service, email accounts... are there any "gotchas" we are overlooking?

And second, has anyone done this before that can talk about making the change socially? He's simply doing it because his first name is extremely common and his last name doesn't mean much to him - he's not very close to his family, but not on bad terms with them either. He just wants to be known by a name of his own choosing. The new name will be completely new to everyone - our families, friends, business associates. What's the simplest and most effective way to make this change with all of them?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Mortgage company or landlord? I don't know what the procedure is for deeds or leases, if a party's name changes.

Don't forget your car registration as well as your driver's license.

Library card, if you have one?
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:57 PM on January 30, 2013

Some ideas: Voting registration. Town census. Get a copy of his birth certificate if you need it, before the name change. Wills, beneficiaries - including beneficiaries on your accounts, Anonymous, if he's to be a beneficiary of yours. Some people put a small notice in the local paper about a name change. Student loans. Social networks. Creditors. Frequent flyer accounts and the like.

Maybe you could throw him a New Name Day party.
posted by dywypi at 2:04 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

He'll want to carry around a certified copy of the name change documents until he gets his IDs in order.

Also, I'm not sure if you're doing this with an attorney or not (as they would let you know this), but you may need to publish the name change in a newspaper.
posted by griphus at 2:04 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I did this, first and last name. Easiest way to do the family/friend/work thing was to make the announcement as I saw them.The word tended to spread faster than I was able to actually announce it to everyone. I waited to tell most people until it had officially gone through because a few friends assumed it was all talk and no action.

Also, make use of social networking like the facebook feature that lets you change your name but have your old moniker in parentheses. Making an announcement there is tremendously helpful.

Some family members might insist he'll always be old [oldname] to them. Some people will remember right away and others will take longer, which is why it helps to let the word spread because the people who do remember will be very helpful in correcting those who don't. "No, it's [new name] now, silly!"

Get the birth certificate/social security card/license changed first, because it'll make changing everything else a hell of a lot easier.

Some "gotchas" that might come up -

- School transcripts/degrees/what-have-you, if he thinks he'd ever be in a situation to need those (deciding to get more education, etc.) Also FAFSA, if he does that.

- Insurance. If he has his own, great! If not, he has to ask the person whose name it's under to change his name on it. Either way, do this ASAP - I ended up with a $3000 hospital bill because the name on my license did not match the one on my insurance card. Also, doctor's offices tend to insist you go by the name that's on your insurance. This one was the biggest pain in the ass for me.

- His vehicle registration and the fun things that go along with that.

- Any online accounts that require his real name. If he plays any online games, a lot of them won't let you recover your account without proof that you're the named person on the account. Another thing I'd do ASAP if he's at all into that.

- Credit reports. He'll have trouble pulling his if the names don't match.
posted by Autumn at 2:18 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have a friend with dual citizenship who got their name changed as a child in the USA and then the court lost the records of the name change. Their Netherlands passport expired while they were in the States. Even after years of pursuing every available option, they cannot legally prove to the Netherlands that they are who they were.

Conclusion: your partner might want to hang onto their own copy of their name change paperwork, just in case anything should ever come up.
posted by aniola at 2:20 PM on January 30, 2013

...your partner might want to hang onto their own copy of their name change paperwork, just in case anything should ever come up.

Oh, jesus, absolutely. Get certified (again not plain, but certified) copies of every single legal document, scan them, and keep them in a safe place. Never depend on a third party (even the government) to retain important documents.
posted by griphus at 2:22 PM on January 30, 2013

I forget the exact logistics about changing IDs, but they need to be done in a particular order, like Social Security card before new drivers license, stuff like that (no guarantees I have that right). He can save some time by double checking with the various agencies before running around town to do all that. (I did it in the wrong order, by bike, so it was a Thing for me.)

When I changed my name, I actually changed my info on my email accounts before it was official. For the most part, people were curious about the switch, and I was fine being open about it, but it's easy to just say you did it for personal reasons.

Occasionally, when I see someone I haven't seen since before my name change, they assume I've gotten married, and it takes all of 30 seconds to clear that up.

I also have academic papers published under both names; my website lists all of them, and in parentheses, I note that the older ones were published under my old name. I linked the two versions of me on the appropriate professional websites (e.g. arXiv).

I only changed my middle and last names; changing the first name will likely take more adjustment time for others. He can just get close friends/family on board, and always introduce himself as NewName to new people, and people will catch on. People will sometimes get it wrong; it's helpful to just accept that will happen, do quick corrections, and not let it get to you.

As other mentioned, definitely hang on to a few certified copies of the name change order from the court.
posted by ktkt at 2:34 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of my friends changed her name a few years back because there were half a dozen people in our circle of friends named "Jen" or "Jenny" and she was tired of the "which Jen?" question. My observation was that she simply changed the signature line on her email account, then told her closest friends, who told everyone else. I don't know if she also did a legal name change.

I have been calling myself "Mars" since my teens, but I filed the paperwork in my early 20s, and told my family about the change a couple of years later. I didn't ask them to stop using my old name, but everybody calls me "Mars" now regardless.

My observation is that a name change is sort of viral; it propagates via gossip. Sticking with the old name makes you seem out of touch, so people start using the new name as soon as they hear about it. All you have to do is demonstrate commitment to the new name and it'll take off of its own accord.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:42 PM on January 30, 2013

PayPal is one that I left off doing for years and years until it became a problem in buying something on eBay, and then I didn't have a handy copy of my marriage license and had to request a new one and it was a HUGE hassle. So go ahead and do that one now, too. I think you have to fax or mail a copy of the annoying.

Also, I think the order things are done in may differ from state to state. I'd call your DMV (or whatever) to find out what, exactly, they need to process a new license -- they may need only the certified name change documents, or they may want to know you've already been to the SSA.

If he wants his diplomas reissued with his new name, some schools will do that, so he might want to check with them what the process is for doing that.
posted by devinemissk at 4:43 PM on January 30, 2013

I did this when I was 19, in Indiana. I did not use a lawyer, because it was a really simple process. I just copied the paperwork from the library and filled the blank spaces as necessary. I did have to run an announcement in the paper-- as it was explained to me, this is necessary in case someone is changing his/her name to avoid creditors. I had to bring a confirmation of the announcement running in the paper when I filed the papers at the courthouse. Everything here does indeed have an order. But it's not all that difficult to figure out, really. Especially, I am sure, in these days of Internet.

Definitely keep certified copies of your name-change paperwork around, forever. I'm 33, and I needed mine last year to get my visa, and the year before that to get my passport. For the most part, though, after the first few months, you won't need it all that often.

When I changed my name, it did take people a while to get used to it, but only a couple of years. Which small hassle was far better than having my old name for the rest of my life.

That was a very, very good purchase on my part, by the way. Having a name you actually *like* is pretty much priceless. Just think really, really hard about what you're changing it to. Because doing it again would be even more annoying than doing it the first time.
posted by Because at 3:21 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

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