What’s in a name? 6 things to consider about changing your name after marriage.

What’s in a name? 6 things to consider about changing your name after marriage.

As a newlywed, the topic of whether or not I would change my last name was something I indeed had to think about, not for too long, but I did have some things to wrap my mind around on my journey from Ms. to Mrs. Here are the 6 things I think should be considered before you change from your maiden to your married surname.

  1. Should you do it?

The modern woman has thrown out the rule book when it comes to taking their husband’s last name. It is no longer a must for a woman to become “Mrs. my-husband’s-last-name”. Some women don’t change their name at all, they keep their maiden name because that works for them…they have had that last name all of their life so if it ain’t broke, no need to fix it right?! Some women hyphenate their name which allows them to hold on to their maiden name and add their husband’s last name at the end (like Black-Smith for example) Some women merge the two last names to create a new one…for example Ms. Black marries Mr. Smith and instead of choosing, they merge their last names to create Blacksmith, a whole new name! Another option is that some women drop a (or add another) middle name and have their maiden name as their middle name. There are some women who even opt to give their last name to their husband! My family tried that on my husband…not a chance that would happen. Whatever decision you make, know that the question of SHOULD YOU change your name is one that can only be answered by you…and there is no wrong answer!

 

  1. What last name will your kids have?

If you and your husband go on to have kids, what name will the kids have? If you decide on any of the options in point number 1 above, you will also have to make a decision on the surname of your kids. Will they take your last name? Will they take their father’s last name? Will they have the merged new name? Will they have your maiden name as one of their middle names? There are many possibilities. The important thing is to think about them all and make a well-informed decision.

 

  1. Who will you be at work?

For most of us in the corporate world, our work e-mail address is some amalgamation of our first and last name. What happens when you change the last part? For some companies, it can be as easy as making the change on the name portion of the profile. In my case however, it caused quite a “project” for our IT Department. They had to create a brand-new profile for me complete with a new e-mail address showing my new last name and then all of my old e-mails had to be transferred over to my new address, my calendar had to be moved, my contacts had to be moved…the works! I also had to have them route any e-mails sent to my old e-mail address to my new e-mail address so that I would be able to see them! Then there was the matter of directing people’s attention to the fact that I had a new e-mail address. I’m not a fan of e-mail blasting, so I put a little note at the end of my “signature” on my e-mail which directed them to my new address. Phew…that was quite the process.

 

  1. Your signature style.

Speaking of signature…if you are going to change your name, you have to change your signature! I had taken over 15 years to perfect my maiden name signature. Going back to the drawing board (pun intended) to create a new one was no easy task, in fact it was a little daunting. I wanted a signature that didn’t look like a 5 year old did it, that was distinguished, that was not easy to copy (hello identity theft?!) and that was east to replicate. Let’s just say it took a while…a long while. I am still not 100% with my new signature but practise makes perfect right? Don’t be alarmed if it takes you a few sheets of paper and more than a few weeks to get it right, the end result will be just right for you!

 

  1. The business of banking.

One of the most important places for your name and signature to appear is at the bank. Changing your name and signature is not the quickest process. Indeed there will be many many MANY forms to fill out, many documents you will have to present and plenty of time that will elapse before your accounts will reflect your new name. Deep breaths. Banks have their processes for a reason and there is very seldom anything that can be done to speed things up. Let’s hope that whoever is in charge of making changes to your account is not lackadaisical about it. All in all, prepare yourself for a bit of a wait. Patience is a virtue right? Same goes for Social Security and your Driver’s License…all in its own time.

 

  1. Time your travel

Most brides and grooms go on their honeymoon sometime within their first year of marriage. How exciting to be able to jet away as Mr. and Mrs. and escape for a bit of R&R to celebrate newly wedded bliss. There are a few things to consider so that your plans are not derailed: 1) passports take a few weeks to be processed and if there is a backlog it can take even longer. Passports are unfortunately not an instantly delivered document. If you are changing your name on your passport, you will need to make sure that you leave ample time to get it back. Also keep in mind that if your passport requires a Visa for travel, you have to factor in the time to get that back as well. 2) Airlines do not allow someone to travel under a different name than the name on the ticket. You must be sure that the name on your ticket (either maiden or married) perfectly matches the name on your passport (either maiden or married). A combination of the two will often not be accepted, even with proof by way of a marriage license. It’s best not to take the chance and plan your travel and the name you travel under very carefully.

 

I have been married 6 months now (where does the time go?!) and I am not ashamed to say that not all of my documents have been changed over to my married name. In truth, this is a process which will take a while to complete. My advice would be that the first step with a name change should always be communication with your significant other. State your intentions as far as your name goes as early as you can. Keep in mind that there is no wrong answer, it is your name and will ultimately be your decision.

 

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(post by Amanda Freedman)

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