LEGAL GUIDE
Written by Avvo Staff | Apr 18, 2016

How to change your last name

You have the option to change your last name in the paperwork to file for divorce or after a marriage. But, if you'd like to change your last name at any other point, the process is relatively simple.

To legally change your last name, you'll visit your local courthouse to get the necessary paperwork. Simply fill out the document, pay the processing fee, and start using your new name. In some areas, you might have to appear before a judge or provide supporting documentation to prove the reason behind your name change (such as a divorce decree or marriage license).

How to change your last name through a court order

If you do need a court-ordered name change, you can hire a lawyer to help, but the procedure is quite simple and you can do it yourself by taking the following steps:

Step 1: Get the appropriate form from your county clerk's office. You will need to supply:

  • Your current name
  • The new name you want
  • Your reason for changing your name

If you are changing your name after a divorce, you may also need to provide:

  • Your divorce case number
  • Your dissolution judgment date

Step 2: Submit the form and filing fee

Step 3: Publish a name-change notice in a local newspaper, if necessary

Step 4: Attend a court hearing to consider your name change. This is not usually necessary for a name change after marriage.

Step 5: Once you receive final judgment authorizing your name change, inform any people and businesses who need to know of your new name. This can include:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Social Security Administration
  • US Passport Office
  • Banks
  • Insurance agencies
  • Your employer
  • Any other entity you do business with

You may also want to revise any legal documents like wills and powers of attorney.

How much does it cost to change your name?

Changing your name legally often requires a filing fee. The amount of the fee varies from one state to another, usually somewhere between $50 to $100.

The court might require additional documentation to prevent fraud and other illegal reasons for changing your last name. For instance, you can't get a name change to avoid paying creditors or to shield yourself from prosecution for a crime.

What do you do after you change your name?

Once you've taken care of the legalities, you can start using the name you've taken or chosen. However, you'll need to notify any authorities of the name change. In most cases, a written letter will be sufficient to get your name of record changed.

For the DMV, social security office, and other government-related agencies, you might need to provide a court document that proves you have legally changed your name. You can get copies of those documents from your local courthouse, then mail them to the organizations that need to know about the change.

You might need help with name-change issues. For instance, if you're changing your will, estate plan, or other official documents, a lawyer can help guide you through the process.

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