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Changing your name legally – Points to consider

People change their names for a variety of reasons. Changing last names are commonly attributed to marriages or divorces. In some cases, people change their first names because they are unhappy with the names given at birth. Some people do it just for the fun of getting a new name!

Whatever be the reason, the below points have to be considered while changing names.

Choosing the name: A person cannot select a numeral, punctuation or an offensive or obscene word for their name. Names cannot be changed to avoid paying debts, to commit fraud or to evade the law. Some celebrity names even have been copyrighted and therefore cannot be chosen. You may not be able to select the names of certain celebrities as there are trademark rights copyrighted with some celebrity names.

Get court approval: In many states court approval is needed to change first names. In this jurisdiction, Florida, the Court must agree and issues a final judgment once it is approved. In certain instances, a background check is required before the Court will consider the name change. The Court will need to know if bankruptcy has been filed, whether, criminal records exists, the names of your parents, and all the places you have resides since you have been born.

Updating name in identification documents and records: Once a name is changed legally, it should be updated in all valid records. The following have to be mandatorily updated with the new name.

  • Government issued identification: Social security card, driver’s license, voter’s registration and passport

  • Work and employment: W2, 401k, health and life insurance, employee benefits and work-related correspondence

  • Banks: Bank accounts, credit cards, asset titles and deeds and investment accounts

The legalities for changing name could vary from state to state. One may ask, “What’s there in a name?” But considering the legal procedures to be followed and the finer points that need to be taken care of after a name change, it is always better to take legal advice to ensure that the proper procedure is followed.

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