Some of the reasons for changing your name are marriage, adoption, or divorce. In order to have a happy and smooth life, you will need to make a few series of followup changes, after you change your name, because of the trail of papers you leave behind you as you grow up. Each time you legally change your name, the process will require a fee, documentation, or both: Before you set out to change your name, plan it carefully, as it could cost you several hundred dollars by the time you’ve finished all of the required actions.
As you are born, the birth name will be immediately entered on two legal documents, one being the birth certificate and the other one, the Social Security account. Birth certificates on which the names are changed for adoptions require motions to be filed with a state or county civil court, that often require a filing fee of $100 or more. For corrections or name changes to a Social Security account, you will need an SS-5 form and it won’t cost you anything.
A simple name change initiated by marriage or divorce can cost less than $100 if there are no licenses or passports to change. Depending on the state, though, change of name by court order, including changes of passport, licenses, and miscellaneous document retrieval, with an attorney or other professional fees can end up costing $500 or more. Changing your name can be expensive and is not a task to be taken lightly.
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As you live your life, your name will be entered on multiple documents used in schools, workplaces, organizations such as churches, and so on. You will probably need to change your name from schools or college documents and transcripts, where another school or an employer may require it. In general, you will only be required to get a copy of the court order, marriage certificate, or any other legal document to prove the name change.
As you reach your adulthood you’ll have documents that you accumulate, and most of them will cost to change. To serve as a legal name change, a marriage or divorce certificate or decree should be enough in most states (events that vary widely in expense but almost always cost more than the filing fee for a name change in a civil court). If you have multiple different licenses, each of them will have to be changed with each name change. Registration and identification cards, driver licenses and vehicle registrations may have an amendment fee of $25 or less each, to change your name, or may even cost the same as a new license, depending on the state you are in.
Due to recent regulations issued by the federal government, concerning the Universal ID, some procedures regarding the name change have changed slightly. Changing names on any document or license may require certified copies of documents and identification with photographs that may add the cost of procuring and mailing these documents.
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Name changes in insurance policies and professional bonds generally require no fees. Brokers and CPAs generally handle name changes on financial instruments as part of their professional services. International travelers or tourists need to change names on their passports using Form DS-5504 or DS-82; correction or changes of names after 60 days of initial issuance costs $60, and expedited service requires an extra fee.
Every time you change your name, you create a new “alias” and leave documents in your wake. Whenever your name is entered in a database, such as those used by law enforcement and credit bureaus, the other name or names you changed are reported as “aka” or “also known as.”
Should the average working Joe change his name?
The name change shouldn’t be made on a whim, because it can become pretty expensive, especially if you are a grown-up with a lot of papers on your name. For subjective reasons such as marriage or divorce, when necessary, you should change your name, but if you’ve never done it yourself, get the help of someone knowledgeable, to be sure you take every measure to be sure that you can use your new name safely.