How to Legally Change Your Name
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How to Legally Change Your Name

How to legally change your first or last name.

Although most of us are content with the first name our parents gave us at birth, there are people who desire to go change their name legally. Although laws vary depending on which state you reside in, a legal name change it is a simple process and you do not need a lawyer.

1. Obtain a Petition for Legal Name Change. You can get these forms online, from your local courthouse, the library, or a stationary store, like Hallmark. Some office supply centers like Staples or OfficeMax may also carry them.

2. Fill out the name change form carefully and legibly. Remember, this is a legal document. You will want to make sure that you really like the new name that you select. Make sure you have practiced using it, writing it, and signing it.

3. Most states will require that you have the name change forms notarized. You can find a Notary Public at banks, CPA firms, or law offices. You will be charged a small fee.

4. You will need to file the Petition for Legal Name Change with the court where you live. The National Center for State Courts Web site ( has links to every court in the United States.

5. You will be notifed when to appear before a judge. In most states, you will be appearing with several other individuals asking the court for a legal name change. The judge will call you up and verify that you want to change your name and confirm the spelling. He will then have you swear that you are not changing your name to avoid legal responsibility, to avoid debt collectors, or to try to take on the personality of someone else. He will then sign the court order.

6. You will need to take your signed court order confirming that you have a legal name change to the Social Security office and obtain a new Social Security card.

7. Once you have receipt that you have ordered a Social Security card with your new name, you may obtain a drivers license with your new name.

8. Do not forget to submit a copy of your legal name change document to your bank, creditors, insurance company, school, and work.

9. Remember to keep your legal name change document in a safe place.

10. If you are a Permanent Resident, then you will need to obtain a new passport and Green Card showing your name change.

There are many reasons one would want to legally change their name. Common reasons for an individual to go through the process of legally changing their name can be simply disliking their birth name, avoiding a stalker, or for adoptive reasons. Other reasons may include having a name that is undesirable, such as Hitler.

Legally changing your name is an easy process, but it can be confusing to friends, family, and business associates. Make sure that you really desire to go through a name change.

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