Simple Marriages

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Hooray, you’re married! Now what?

One of the things that have a lot of people confused is changing the last name.  In the United States, there is no right way or wrong way to do this. For illustration purposes let’s marry Lois Lane to Clark Kent.

  1. Each keeps their last name as it is. (Lois Lane stays the same and nothing needs to be done).
  2. The bride takes the groom’s last name. (Lois Lane becomes Lois Kent).
  3. The bride hyphenates her last name.  (Lois Lane becomes Lois Lane-Kent)
  4. The groom takes the bride’s name. (Clark Kent becomes Clark Lane) 

You can change your last name after marriage without going to court. You can pay for a name-change kit or save money by doing it yourself. Some places may require you to go in-person, others will let you change it by submitting a letter, or online. The rules and documents required may vary by location. Make sure to update your address at the same time if you moved to a new residence.

To start you need to get a certified copy of your marriage license from the municipal clerk’s office in the town that you were married. I highly recommend that you also request a few additional copies as it will save you time and money. Some places will want to keep the certified copy while others will make a copy and return to you the original. 

Start with the Social Security Administration

There is no charge for a new Social Security card with your new name. To get a corrected Social Security card, you will need to:

Obtain, or print and fill out an Application for a new Social Security Card, and Take or mail the application and documents to your local Social Security office. You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them.  They will not accept photocopies or notarized copies. Click here for an online application.

For more information, you can call toll-free 1-800-772-1213, or visit online at www.ssa.gov

Get a new driver’s license

Within 2 weeks of changing your name, you must notify the Motor vehicle agency of your state to get an updated driver’s license, ID card, and motor vehicle. registration.

In New Jersey a name change cannot be processed through the mail; you must visit a motor vehicle agency and bring all the required documentation in order to complete this transaction. All documents must be original or certified copies and have the required municipal and/or State seals.

You will need to provide proof of your identity through a 6 Points of ID Verification. Click here for more information and for the online documents selector tool, or brochure.

Name Change Checklist

You’re not done yet! After you’ve taken care of the Social Security and Driver’s License, you will still have a few places to go to make sure that everything is in order. Use this checklist to keep track of records you’ve changed. 

Banking & Financial Records  

  • Checking, Savings, and  Accounts Investment Accounts (i.e. mutual funds, stock brokerage)  
  • Retirement Accounts (i.e. 401K, IRA, Deferred Compensation)  
  • All Vehicle Loans or Lease Companies  
  • All Credit Cards 
  • Financial Planner
  • All Department Store Accounts  Reward Programs (i.e. frequent flyer or frequent stay programs) 

Government Agencies  

  • Social Security Card – The Social Security Administration will automatically forward your name change to the IRS and your State Department of franchise (For your state taxes if applicable). It is not necessary to contact these two agencies.  
  • Department of Motor Vehicles – Change your Driver’s license, vehicle title registration, and state identification card if applicable  Voter Registration – Can be changed at most DMV locations when you change your license  
  • U.S. Passport – If you are changing your name within one year of the date your passport was issued you will need to complete Form DS-5504: Application for a U.S. Passport: Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Book Replacement.  You will not be charged a fee for this service.  

Household Records  

  • Mortgage Company 
  • Landlord  
  • Homeowner Associations, Association Dues, any other Management Company  
  • All Utility companies – Power, Gas, Water, Trash Removal, Cable, Internet,  Cell Phone Company.  

Property 

  • Tax Title Records 
  • Auto Insurance  
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance and Supplemental Insurance
  • Household Security Companies  
  • Magazine and Newspaper Subscription 

Personal Records  

  • Medical records – Family doctor, dentist, pharmacist, Health Insurance companies,  and veterinarian.
  • Accountant, Lawyer, Insurance Agent,  
  • Your Company’s Human Resource Department 
  • Memberships and Organizations  
  • Health Clubs, Country Clubs, and any other social organizations  
  • Professional Membership Organization  
  • Charity Organization  
  • Church  
  • Alumni Organizations  
  • Library 

This is not an all-inclusive list. You might have other places that you need to change as well. I recommend you print this list and add to it as you see fit.