In my last post, I talked about the history of changing your name and how it originally came out of the Bible. I also talked about the fact that I’m not really too keen on changing my last name.
I love the name Abby Rhoad, not only because it’s a pretty awesome name to have, but because it is a deeply personal issue to me. It’s who I am and who I’ve been for 30 years.
Not only personally, but professionally, I’m hesitant to change my name. Because men and women are marrying later, most women have developed themselves professionally by the time they tie the knot. In my industry, this can be very complicated when you’ve written hundreds of stories under one byline.
Many women reporters I know, keep a sort of pen name after they get married, so they don’t risk having their pre-marriage work no longer associated with them. I don’t have hundreds of stories, but there are a few things that come up professionally online.
If these statistics are correct, about 80 percent of the women in the country change their name after getting married, so I figured I might as well give some pointers for the majority out there. Aside from the identity crisis that could ensue, changing your name includes so much paperwork, and it is, quite frankly, a giant pain in the ass.
The IRS has tips that make changing your name easier, but no more convenient, and Pennsylvania provides information on the PennDot website for changing your driver’s license. Once you change your name officially with the government, you can worrying about changing your name for your credit cards, bank, utilities, insurance companies, and more.
“I ordered about a dozen extra certified copies of my marriage certificate and then brought one, along with the required IRS form, to the Social Security office in New York City to get a Social Security card with my new name. When it arrived in the mail, I changed my name on my bank accounts and credit cards and finally, earlier this year after moving to California, got a driver’s license with my new name, ” she said.
Sounds easy, right? From what I’ve read, the first and most important step is getting your name changed on you Social Security card and with your employer. This ensures your name will be correct for your wages and that your tax return will not be delayed.
Money is definitely the No. 1 thing to get right. To do that, you need the original (or certified) marriage license. Next, visit the Social Security administration to get a social security card with your new name. The next step would be getting a new driver’s license.
After you have your new license, bring that and your marriage certificate to your bank to change your accounts, request new checks and update your bank cards and credit cards. After that, you can start going down the list:
Electric, cable and other utility companies
Credit card companies
School records/loans and alumni associations
Club Memberships (Costco, gym, grocery store cards, etc.)
Landlord or mortgage company
Insurance companies (auto, home, life)
Doctors (GP, OB/GYN, Dentist, etc.)
Voter registration office
Investment account providers
Be sure to update your passport by completing a Passport Amendment/Validation Application. Send this along with appropriate fees, your current passport and a certified copy of a marriage certificate to the nearest passport agency.
Some companies will change your name over the phone, while others require you send in a form and a copy of your marriage certificate. You can generally create a form letter that works for most.
So what if you don’t change your name? Is there anything you have to worry about. Short answer: Not really. Just kick your feet up and enjoy your new nuptials. Longer answer: There are a few things that you might need to update: insurance, financial records and wills.
One person on the wedding boards at weddingbee.com, offered this tidbit: If you plan to switch to your spouse’s insurance, you must notify the insurance company within 30 days of your marriage, or else you will have to wait until the next enrollment period.
Another important change is to any beneficiaries, such as for a will or 401(k). Right now, my parents would receive any money I had saved and earned in my 401(k) and money from any life insurance policies I have.
What’s in a name? You tell me…
• Would you want to lay down seven grand to buy a wedding dress from Vera Becker? (Vera Wang?)
• How about listening to a song from Mariah Cannon, Jennifer Anthony or Barbra Brolin? (Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Barbra Streisand)
• Netflix an old film with Elizabeth Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Warner Fortensky? (Elizabeth Taylor, natch)
• Gloria Bale needs her surname like a fish needs a Steinem. (Gloria Steinem)
• And does the name Sonia Noonan suggest an “extraordinary journey”? (Sonia Sotomayor)
Rhoad to the Altar: Changing your name (Part 1)