Financial Resource Center

Money Management

Name-change missteps could put finances in jeopardy

by Center for Personal Finance editors / May 8th, 2007

NEW YORK (5/9/07)--There are good reasons for changing your name--marriage and divorce are two of them. Regardless of the reason, make sure you fill out all the paperwork and notify all the businesses that need to know. If you don't, you could be headed for a financial train wreck ( April 30). What you need to do depends on where you live; each state has its own name-changing procedures. You can count on a filing fee regardless of where you live; the cost could run anywhere from $13 to $230. Ask at the county courthouse if you need to get a court order and publish a legal notice in the local newspaper announcing the change. After the name change is approved, Consumer Reports recommends you ask the clerk for at least six copies of a certified name change decree. Now comes the tedious part: Notifying everyone who needs to know. Start with government agencies: Department of Motor Vehicles (for a new driver's license), Social Security Administration (for a new Social Security card), and U.S. Department of State (for a new passport). Then, start notifying businesses and financial advisers. Cover all your bases:
  • Attorney (change your will);
  • Brokerage accounts;
  • Car registration;
  • Colleges and alumni associations;
  • County tax assessor;
  • Credit-card companies;
  • Deeds or mortgages;
  • Employer and union, if applicable;
  • Frequent-flier programs;
  • Insurance companies;
  • Medical providers;
  • Mutual funds;
  • State licensing boards;
  • Stocks and bonds;
  • Utilities; and
  • Voter registration.
If you're heading down the aisle in June, put your honeymoon reservations in your maiden name ( This way, you'll be able to match your tickets with your passport or driver's license if they're still in your old name. Finally, for a year after the name change, Consumer Reports Money Adviser recommends you sign both names on important documents. Example: Jane Doe formerly known as Jane Smith. And if you're changing the name of a child and both parents aren't in agreement, you could wind up in court. For more information, read "Life Change To-Do Lists" in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
Facebook Post