8 Steps to Take After Your Legal Name Change

Nicole FallonLegal

USA Passport with Social Security Card and Drivers License for legal name change

Legally changing your name can be a complex process. Clients come to My Legal Case Coach for help with the legal aspect of their name change in Virginia, but many wonder: What do you do after you receive your Name Change Order from the Court?

Once your Name Change Order has been entered, you will want to request the Clerk of the Court to provide you with at least six (6) to ten (10) certified copies of the Order, as you will need more than one to update and begin using your legal name on all your official identification documents, employment records, financial accounts, and more. Here is a step-by-step guide to follow after changing your legal name to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

1. Update your Social Security card.

The first step in legally changing your name should be applying for a name change with the Social Security Administration. You will need to fill out and submit Form SS-5, which requires documentation of a recent name change that includes both your current and former name. If the change happened more than two years ago or if the documentation doesn’t have enough information, you may also need to provide further documentation proving both your old and new names.

2. Get a new driver’s license and passport.

Once you receive your updated Social Security card, you can use it to get a new driver’s license at your local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. If you have a passport in your former name, you will also want to follow the U.S. government’s instructions for changing your name and receiving an updated passport. 

3. Update your birth certificate (if applicable).

A simple last name change does not typically require you to update your birth certificate, but if you are completely changing your given legal name for reasons unrelated to marriage or divorce, you may wish to update your birth certificate to reflect your new chosen name. To do this, you will need to contact the Vital Records Office for the state that issued your original birth certificate. Requirements vary by state but may include a certified copy of a name change order, certified copy of your current birth certificate, an application form, and associated fees.

4. Contact your financial institutions.

Some banks will allow you to change your legal name within their online member portal by submitting a photo of your updated driver’s license or other documentation that proves your identity. However, many financial institutions prefer this to be done in person. Be sure to call ahead of time to find out what forms or documents they will need to complete the changes.

5. Inform your employer(s).

You’ll also need to inform your employer(s) of your name change so they are able to update your employment records for tax forms, benefits administration, and more. Failing to do so in a timely manner could cause issues when filing your taxes or file benefits claims.

6. Notify creditors.

If creditors continue reporting your credit information under your old name, it could have a detrimental effect on your credit score. By updating individual creditors your information will automatically be updated at the various credit reporting agencies so you don’t need to contact them. Once you initiate the name changes, you should begin to see the new name on your credit reports within a few months.

7. Update your estate plans.

If you have any estate planning documents already in effect such as a will, power of attorney, or living trust, you will want to revise and update these documents to reflect your new legal name.

8. Update other records/service providers.

Below are other records and service providers you may want to contact during this process.

  • Doctor’s offices
  • Insurance agencies
  • Mortgage company or landlord
  • Utilities
  • Post office
  • Personal attorney
  • Alumni association
  • Social media profiles
  • Investment accounts
  • Voter registration
  • State taxing authority
  • Vehicle registration
  • Retirement accounts
  • Credit card companies
  • Membership accounts
  • Emergency contact information with your children’s school

Changing your name in Virginia? We’re here to help!

No matter your reason for changing your name, My Legal Case Coach is here to help with the legal process so you can get the court order that will help you change your name in all of the above steps.

We offer documents for divorce-related name changes, as well as a special case form packet for name changes unrelated to a pending divorce case. Included in each packet purchase is one free hour of 1:1 virtual legal coaching, and you can purchase additional prepaid coaching for ongoing guidance. Schedule a free consultation today with an experienced case coach to discuss your unique situation.