The wedding bells have rung, the knot has been tied and you are ready to kick back and enjoy some marital bliss! However, if you’ve decided to change your last name, don’t get too comfortable yet – your work isn’t done. Changing government-issued I.D.s and important legal documents can sound a little scary, but if you just get organized and plan ahead, you can get right back to enjoying your marital bliss – and your new last name!
Marriage License vs. Marriage Certificate
Every state is a little different, but in most states, your Marriage License is the document you get ahead of time and is signed right after the ceremony. After the signed Marriage License is filed, you can pick up the Marriage Certificate a few weeks later at your County Clerk’s office. Each state and county processes Marriage Certificates differently, so check out the details specific to the county where you applied for your marriage. Make sure that the Marriage Certificate you have is the original, certified or embossed version of the certificate. Do yourself a huge favor: buy more than one copy at the Clerk’s office, take it home, scan it and PDF it! Keep copies of both your Marriage License and Certificate handy, you might be surprised how some places use the words license and certificate interchangeably!
The Social Security Card
Stop #2 on your journey should be straight to the Social Security Administration’s website. On their website, you can download, fill out, and print the application to update your Social Security Card, which you will bring with you in person in order to have your card updated. Or if you choose, you can skip the lines at the Social Security Office and mail your application and supporting documents to them directly. From there, you should typically get your new card within 10 business days. Your updated social security card is more than just a prereq to change other documents, it’s also connected to how your name on your W-2s will appear. Whenever you are sending original or important documents through the mail, remember to send them certified or use a tracking service.
Driver’s License or State I.D.
With your new (certified) marriage certificate in hand, check your state’s DMV website to see what other supporting documents are needed to update your Driver’s License. While you’re thinking about cars, check out this site to see where and how you can update the name on your car’s title in the state you live in. When you are ready to sell your car down the road, it will be so much easier if all your personal information is already correct. Also, don’t forget to call your car insurance company to let them know you put a ring on it, as your rates will probably decrease too!
Passport and TSA Pre-check
Updating your passport depends on if you already have a passport and how long ago it was issued. You might be able to apply for a name change online and mail in your required documents. You can look up the requirements here at the Department of State’s website. If you have TSA Pre-check, don’t forget to update that too, which is actually really easy to do online! Pro Tip: Even though getting married is an exciting new venture, DO NOT use your new last name when booking your honeymoon if you will be traveling directly after you get married as you won’t have the identification to match yet. Also, while you have your head in the clouds thinking about travel, take this time to update loyalty programs for things such as airlines, hotels, and rental cars!
Make sure you work with your HR department or manager to have your e-mail address, badge (if you wear one), name placard, W-4, business cards, and e-mail signature updated! Be mindful of your co-workers if you work in a large company where not everyone may know that you just got married. An out of office notice on your old e-mail account or a note on your new signature line might help them understand that you just got hitched, and it’s the same you, just a new last name.
If you are a student, check to see what requirements your school will need to update your name. You will probably have to get a new e-mail account and student I.D. More importantly, you want the name on your diploma to be correct after all of those years of hard work!
Bank Accounts, Credit cards, Investment, and Retirement Accounts
Each financial institution has their own policies on what it takes to update your name. Before you call, have you decided if you are going to do joint accounts? Although that’s a whole other conversation, if you’ve made your decision, it might be easier to update your name, account statuses, and beneficiaries at the same time.
Other Financial “Stuff:"
Not as urgent, but updating accounts such at your utilities provider, mortgage company/landlord, insurance provider, and/or loan repayment company might save you from future headaches and hassle down the road. While you are in the name-change swing of things go ahead and think about updating your Last or Living Wills as well. If you don’t have one, take some time and think about getting one made.
Odds and ends:
Although you’ve covered the heavy hitters by now, other odds and ends will pop up. Here are a few more important places where you might need to update your name: Voter Registration, subscription and memberships, personal e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media accounts, PayPal, and your US mail.
You did it! You took the big leap and changed your name! With a little thought, planning, and patience, changing your name after marriage doesn’t need to be stressful. Now go and enjoy the rest of your lives together!