Just Married? How to Change Your Name on Financial Accounts
How to Change Your Last Name
The wedding and the honeymoon are over, and you’re settling into life as a married person. Now that it’s official, you can completely merge your life with your new spouse. That means moving in together if you haven’t already, deciding whether or not to combine your bank accounts and—if you’ve chosen to do so—changing your last name to your spouse’s.
Luckily, changing your last name is one of the easiest aspects of getting married. All that is required is some paperwork and your time.
If you received wedding presents in the form of checks written out to a name that doesn’t yet (or might not ever) exist, see tips at the end of this article. You might not have to wait until your name is officially changed to deposit checks.
How to Change Your Name After Marriage
- Gather documents: Before getting married, you applied for a marriage license. The license should have been mailed to you or given to you and the witnesses who signed the license (usually at the wedding). Once signed, the marriage license is mailed back to the county clerk’s office, and you should receive an official copy of your marriage certificate within one week.
- Notify Social Security: Once you have an official copy of your marriage certificate, update your Social Security with your new name. Your Social Security Number (SSN) will stay the same—only your last name changes. To complete this step, fill out Form SS-5, which can be returned by mail or in person at your local Social Security office. Your new Social Security card will be mailed to you within ten business days.
- Update your driver’s license: To get a new driver’s license, you need to go to your local DMV with the correct paperwork in hand—including your marriage certificate, your old driver’s license, and your updated Social Security card. While there, ask about changing the name on the title of your car and your vehicle registration records.
- Update financial accounts: Once you’ve received your new driver’s license, you can now update all of your financial records—including bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit cards, and more. You can typically do this in person with local banks and credit unions, or you can send documents by fax or email if that’s more convenient. Ask your bank what documents are required—typically you’ll submit a copy of the marriage certificate and a letter requesting the change to your new name. Be prepared to sign the form twice, using your old “formerly known as” name as well as your new name. In some cases, financial institutions provide a form to guide you through the process. Remember to request new checks in your new name if you rely on checks regularly.
- Notify other service providers and agencies: Most of your other records can be updated online or by phone. Among others, be sure to update your car insurance, utility bills, passport, doctor’s records, and post office information. You can also update this information as it comes. For example, instead of updating all of your bills at once, update them as they come in. That approach makes it slightly less stressful than trying to remember each and every little detail of your life. Eventually, all of your documents will reflect your new last name.
Changing your name should be one of your first priorities once you’re back from your honeymoon. While it can seem like a daunting task, break it down into baby steps and make it a goal to complete one step each week until everything is finalized.
Time is of the Essence?
After making your marriage official, you might be tempted to take a breather from all the paperwork. But it’s really best to update your financial accounts as soon as possible. Life will only continue to speed up for you—there will never be a convenient time to do this. When you go through other life changes (such as job changes, moving, and other events that demand your time and energy), you will appreciate having account names that match. It’s much easier to make those critical deposits and withdrawals if everything is tidy.
Checks to the bride and groom might be an exception. Your loved ones, while well-intentioned, likely wrote checks in a variety of different ways, possibly making assumptions about if and how you’ll change your surname. On the bright side, at least they wrote you a check instead of buying a toaster.
If you’re staring at a pile of checks with mismatched names and wondering if you’ll ever get to deposit them, take the checks (and your spouse) to the bank. Bring a copy of your marriage certificate, and explain the situation. In many cases, bank staff will allow these one-off deposits—just ask how exactly to endorse the checks.
The long-term solution is to get your accounts properly registered and get everybody familiar with your correct name. You don’t want to go to the branch every time you get a check.
This article was updated and added to by Justin Pritchard.