Changing your name is relatively simple. We strongly recommend using an attorney and court proceedings (the “court method”), rather than the old “usage method”, to change your name.
There was a time when you would just pick a new name, start using it, and ask the government agencies like Social Security and the DMV to change their records, and within a short time your new name would become your official legal name. That time is past. Fears of terrorism and identity theft have led most agencies to require that you have a court order changing your name before they will update their records. The only exception to using the court method is if you are changing your name after getting married – one spouse taking the other spouse’s last name.
Limitations on New Legal Name
You may change your own name, or that of your child (provided both legal parents agree), through the court method. With only a few exceptions, your name can be changed to just about any name you want. For instance:
You can’t take the name of a famous person if it might benefit you financially, or if you’ll cast the famous person in a negative light.
You can’t use fictitious names protected by copyright.
You can’t use a racial slur or name that would incite violence.
Court Method Procedures
Procedures vary somewhat by state, and in some cases by judge. Generally, to change your name, you will need to file forms with the court, then publish your request for several weeks in a local newspaper. Depending on the procedures, and the judge, you may be required to appear in person or the judge may simply enter the order based upon the forms submitted.
You’ll then take the court order to all agencies and institutions that maintain records about you, and ask them to update their files.
Please note: Changing your name is not a panacea for credit repair.
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