How to Legally Change Names

It’s a person’s right to be known by any name, so if you’re commonly referred to by your middle name, a nickname or a totally different name there’s no need to formalize your name change. However, with increasing security concerns most organizations will only allow accounts and identification to be issued in your legal name, which is the name on your US birth, marriage or naturalization certificate.

If you want your bank accounts, driver’s license or any other record to be under a different name then you must show a court order. Having a court approve your new legal name does not mean any accounts or records are automatically updated; it is your responsibility to ensure all the necessary places have been notified of your new name, which is where Easy Name Change can help. We provide ready to send name change notifications for all popular companies and government agencies.

How to get a name change by court order

Here we explain the general process to change names by court order. As the process is managed at a state level it will vary depending on where you live. First, contact your clerk of court. You can simply google your county name and ‘clerk of court’. Ask for a name change petition to be sent to you. (continued…)

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Read the petition in detail. You may be asked for information which may include prior addresses, employment history, financial standing, family, education and criminal history. Applicants with a criminal history or seeking to evade debt are often denied the opportunity to change names. Return the completed form to the court, pay a filing fee and ask for a hearing date. Some counties may hear your case on the spot, others may take several months. Once a judge has ruled in favor of your petition you will be given a court order that states your previous and new names. At the same time apply for additional court-issued copies (called ‘certified copies’) of your name change order as many organizations need this. Some states require you to publish a notice of your name change in a newspaper. Although not mandatory, it’s a good idea to apply to vital statistics or the health department in the state where you were born for your name change to be noted on your birth certificate.

Do I need a lawyer?

Most individuals are able to handle their own name change. If not, courts have self-help centers where they can assist with more information. You may ask friends or family for assistance in completing your name change but may have to disclose details of any person who assisted with the application on your petition. You can use a lawyer at any stage of the process if you choose to but this will significantly increase your cost. Some legal firms specialize in name change and offer fixed price packages.

Can my name change be refused?

You’re generally required to provide a sound reason for changing names. Your name change may be refused if it is to defraud or deceive anyone, escape financial or criminal history or if your new name could be considered offensive. It may also be refused if it infringes on intellectual property, such a celebrity’s name, brand or product name. Your name should be comprised of the standard alphabet and not have unusual punctuation.

Updating records

Once your name change is approved you should cease using your previous name for all purposes. It’s your responsibility to get all your records updated and it’s easiest done with our Easy Name Change kit to take you through the process. Always start with your government records, making Social Security the first record updated.

If you need to get your name updated with a number of companies such as banks, credit cards, insurance, loyalty programs and more, our standard kit gives you full access to our database of over 1,000 organizations and provides all the information and paperwork you need. Just attach your proof of name change and send!

Ready to start changing names now?

You’re only a few clicks away from starting the process! Let us send you all the necessary state and federal agency forms. Choose an unlimited selection of verified name change procedures for hundreds more companies, so no need to call your insurance company, credit card provider, utility provider or anyone else!

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Still need more information?

Browse the legal name change section of our site. Other topics include;

Legal name change time and cost
Changing a child’s name
Name change for non-citizens
Getting records updated
Where to go for more information