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Your Name Has Changed...So Now What?

Photo of author, Chelsea Clegg, CFP®.
Chelsea Clegg, CFP®
Financial Strategist

Throughout our lives, our names can change for a variety of reasons — marriage, divorce, or adoption, to name just a few. We’ve all heard the saying “What’s in a Name?” … and the answer is, quite a lot! Aside from the typical visits to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or Social Security Office, there are many other areas that need attention when a name change is necessary.

I recently got married and elected to take my husband’s last name. While I knew there would be many changes to make, I didn’t realize just how extensive my task list would be. So I’m sharing my “lessons learned” to make this journey a little easier for the next person…

  • Driver’s License and Social Security Card
    • Contact your local Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Office so you know what items you need to bring with you. In my state of Ohio, I can elect to have a standard issue or Federal-compliant driver’s license. Because I chose the compliant option, I needed a new Social Security card with my new last name as well as a second form of ID (like a birth certificate) and proof of address (like a utility bill).
  • Bank, Retirement and Investment Accounts and Credit Cards
    • In order to deposit checks into your bank or investment account, your names must match. Be sure to provide the bank or custodian with proper identification so the change can be made (divorce decree, marriage certificate, etc.). Make sure you order an updated debit card and checks that reflect your new name.
    • If you are listed on another person’s account (like a parent), make sure you update your name on that account, too. Generally, all account holders must be present to make the change.
    • If you elect to open a new checking or savings account with your spouse, be sure to provide the updated account and routing number to your employer for direct deposit purposes.
    • Once married, your spouse must generally be named as primary beneficiary of your employer-sponsored retirement account. He/she can waive that right, but it must be documented.
  • Loans: Mortgage, Home Equity Line of Credit, Vehicle, Student, Installment
    • Ensure all records are updated so that there are no issues in the future.
    • For example, you may need to file additional paperwork when you refinance or sell your home if your prior name is on the deed or mortgage. This could cause unnecessarily delays during closing.
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  • Estate Documents and Beneficiaries
    • Ensure your estate documents (Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Will, Living Will) correctly state who you elect to act on your behalf.
    • Ensure that your beneficiary elections and share percentages reflect your wishes. You do not want your family and friends arguing over your estate.
    • In fact, even if your name does not change but a named representative or beneficiary’s name changes, you should update your records to avoid any unnecessary disputes or confusion.
    • If you are a beneficiary or named guardian on a parent’s or loved one’s policy, make sure you provide necessary documentation of your name change to the insurer.

  • Insurance: Health, Vision, Dental, Life, Disability, Vehicle, Home
    • Ensure your name is updated and you have obtained updated insurance cards. Provide that information to applicable parties.
    • If there is a name mismatch, you could face delays in processing claims or receiving reimbursement.
  • Employer: Licenses, Credentials, Payroll
    • Make sure you are updating records in a timely fashion. For example, the CFP® Board requires you notify the Board within 45 days of the name change.
  • Professional Services/Consultants: CPAs, Attorneys, and other firms who represent you on a contractual basis.
  • Utilities: Water, Gas, Sewage, Cable, Internet, Phone.
  • Voting Record
    • Ensure your name is updated with your voting precinct to avoid issues when attempting to vote at the next election.
  • School Records: For you and your child(ren)
    • This is especially important for emergency records and security purposes, such as presenting identification to pick up your child from school.
  • Veterinary Records
While the list above is lengthy, it is by no means complete. This is a starting point of considerations and may vary depending on your individual circumstances. If you have questions or concerns about a name change, please contact your financial advisor or other trusted professional.
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