Sunday, August 28, 2011

Changing your last name

So the wedding's over, the honeymoon's over and we're back to reality.  The first thing I wanted to do after all of the craziness was to make my new last name official!

In some states, you are able to apply and submit all of your information online to get your name changed, but in Florida it seems that you have to go into all of the actual offices to get your new name.  You can opt to try to figure out how to do everything through the mail, but for me that was more trouble that it was worth...

There is also a legal name changing kit you can purchase online.  As much as I was tempted to do this, Mr. Hess and I agreed that it was silly to pay extra for something that I can handle by myself.  The trade of for this agreement? He had to go to all of the name changing stops with me!  Just in case you're interested in taking the easy route, HERE's an example of a name change kit.  Not feeling that one? Simply google "name change kit" and you'll find several options to chose from.

As for the DIY's, it took a little bit of research, a few days off and a lot of patience to get the task done:

Naturally, the first thing I wanted to do after we got back from the honeymoon was to handle EVERTHING!  I woke up bright and early my first day off of work ready to find out exactly how I go about changing my name and realized an important factor to have with me wasn't in my hands yet.  If you get married - legally - you are required to purchase a marriage license before the ceremony and after your vows it gets sent off and turned into the right hands to notarize it and then return it to you as a marriage certificate.  This can have a turnaround up to 2 weeks after the wedding, and that can seem like a long time in transition mode, but finally she was in my hands.

Now that I had the marriage certificate in my possesion, I created the following TO-DO list to check off as a new MRS:
  • NEW Social Security Card - this is free, but requires you to come into your local office in person and fill out the appication.  To do this you need your marriage license, your old SS Card, a form of ID, and proof that your are a US Citizen (your birth certificate).  You can opt to mail the application in instead, but I didn't trust handing any form of my personal documents over to anyone...not to mention the extra time it would take to go through snail mail.  Also, if you are planning on changing your address, you need to provide the new one to this office.
  • NEW Driver's License - this is not free, but is has a small one-time fee of $25.  You must get your new SS Card before you do this in FL, OR have an official document from the SS Office with you saying your new card is on it's way.  Again, if you are planning on also changing your address, you need to provide the new one to the DMV WITH 2 documents with the address on it as proof.  Bring your old ID with you, and they will do you the pleasure of snapping the corner from it so that it's unusable.  DO NOT forget any of these things when you go to the DMV, or they will turn you away before if not after you wait in that crazy long line!
Once you have your new Social Security card and Driver's License, you can move onto notifying anyone else who needs to know of your new surname.  This can include:

  • Friends and family
  • Employers/payroll
  • Post office
  • Phone company and other utilities
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Credit card companies
  • Schools and alumni associations
  • Voter registration

These tasks aren't necessarily as time consuming as the two main ones I mentioned, but that doesn't mean that they aren't as important.  When I was at the DMV, they asked me if I would like to update my voter registration right then and there, and I did - why not?!

After the DMV, we headed over to my Mr. Hess's bank and added me onto his bank account.  I've never been more excited to hand over an ID, (well, maybe this was second to getting ID'd  on my 21st birthday!) but regardless, it was so nice and shiny and said all of the right information I've been waiting for!  It's completely up to you and your spouse what you do with banking accounts, but for us it just made more sense for everything to be in one place.  For now, I am keeping my own account at my bank, but this will only be temporary.  Since my name has officially changed in the system at work, my paychecks will now say MRS. and just so there isn't any confusion I made a copy of my driver's license that says my maiden name to hand into the bank.  This way, they have it on file and note that it's really ME trying to access MY account.

Once that's done, don't forget to get your new name on these documents as well:
  • Passport - Do not do this before the wedding.  Your passport name must match the name on your ticket and all other travel documents! Although you will want to show it off, it's wayyy easier to take your honeymoon with your maiden name.
  • Mortgages and leases
  • Wills 
  • Insurance policies
  • E-mail address - if you wish to incorporate it.
  • Social Networking sites - just for FUN! I changed my last name the very next morning after the wedding! lol.
Now that I had my trustee TO-DO list together, it was time to actually get everything done! 

When the marriage certificate arrived, and my next day off came around I headed over to the Social Security office first.  In Florida, you have to change your SS Card before you do any other formalities.  Not sure exactly where to go?  You can find your closest SS Office near your area HERE.  So, off I went to the SS Office, planning to go to the DMV next and knock out everything I could in one day...but little did I know that's not quite how the system works.

The reason you go get your SS Card first is because you need it for everything else.  Once you apply for a new card, your new last name is changed into their system that night at midnight.  The lady that helped me at the SS Office told me to wait at least 24 hours before going over the the DMV, so I waited until the next day.  Luckily, before I drove over there something told me to give this DMV a call and see what their policy is for name changes.  I'm SO glad I did because although it takes 24 hours for your new name to be applied in the SS system, it takes a total of 48-72 hours to be applied to the system the DMV uses!  If I had gone the next day, I could have gotten all the way through the line and THEN have been told I was denied because the new name wouldn't have been "verified." Can you imagine?! That would have been awful.

Playing it on the safe side, I waited until my next day off which was 3 days later.  By this time I KNEW I had allowed enough time for my name to change in every system and we were good to go.  So...FINALLY....attempt 3 was a success and after a crazy day at the DMV I had a new license and a new address.  HALLELUJAH! Like I said before, these two things were the hardest of them all to get my new last name onto.  Now that I have them with me, it hasn't taken very long to change any of the other things on my list.

If you have any questions at all about changing your name, ask me & I will hopefully have an answer for you.  I'm not an expert on this, but at least I can say I've "been there & done that"...which is at least worth a blog post. Hope this helps!

Until next time,
Mrs. Presh <3


Irene said...

Wow! I think this is way too complicated! I'm glad we don't change our last names here!

Heather Hesington said...

Yes is! That's why I shared my process of how to do it, lol. :) It can take up to 6 months to really change everything over...sheesh!


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