How To Change Your Name After Marriage: The Legal Process

Did you recently get married? If so, congratulations! Before you put that pen away after writing all those thank-you notes, there is one more thing to make your union official. It is important to know how to change your name after marriage.

If you're interested in changing your last name to reflect your spouse's, then this is the guide for you.  There is not a lot to remember on how to change your name after marriage, but there are some documents that you will need to bring with you. Some of these steps you can do ahead of time to make sure it goes smoothly, and whatever you do, don't panic because you do have some grace time to make the transition, but it's best to start as soon as you can.

3 Ways to Change Your Name

Each state has different processes when it comes to changing one's name. You won't need to know all of these, but as a reference, they are included here. While none of these are complicated, there are certain documents that are needed to verify your identity. You will only need to focus on the marriage license section, for it is the one that will show you how to change your name after marriage.

Utilizing the Court System

pointing out on document for signature

The first and most popular option is to go through the courts and get your married name approved by a judge. This is for anyone that wants to change their own name. It is not just for those that wish to only change it due to marriage.

Using It Repeatedly

man pointing to himself infront of a woman

Another form of changing one's name is constantly using the name you wish and being recognized by it. It is not approved in some states, so you should check first in your own before doing so.

Marriage License

man signing papers

This is the one that will be what you will use to help get your name changed. It is a certificate that you signed at your marriage. It required both of your signatures and also those that witnessed as well as the marriage officiant.

Why You Should Learn How to Change Your Name After Marriage

It is important that you follow these procedures for they will prevent any legal ramifications in your future. We all have busy lives, and a newly married couple is the busiest of all. They are learning how to function as a married couple and do not need any additional interference while doing so. By learning how to change your name after marriage, it will keep undue stress off your new marriage.

Especially in this time of identity fraud, it is important not to have alternative identities causing confusion. In America, it is very important that you can prove who you are and keep your affairs registered under a legal name to avoid being questioned or accused of wrongdoing. Someone could use your maiden name and build up debt obligations while you are living your life under your married name. When people steal another's identity, it can cause a number of problems, and the credit bureau will have a hard time sorting things out if you don't have legal documents to back you up. That's bad enough, but also at risk is your credit score and long-term financial health.

In other instances, you can consider the woman who didn't change her identity properly after she was married and was regularly stopped at airline security when she traveled. Usually, it worked out, but think of the relief knowing you are traveling with the correct legal ID and are able to present it without any hesitation. Also, you'll find it difficult to complete simple transactions like when moving into a new home and having to transfer the utility or water accounts. Again, here we find that handling this matter properly and promptly makes for a much more pleasant and successful transition.

Legal Requirements on How to Change Your Name After Marriage

You must make sure that you meet all legal requirements before submitting a name change. This will ensure that you have all the legal points in and not create any problems later.

Permanent Address

Fraudulent Name Change

Proper Court

Who to Notify After Your Name Change

couple holding hand while walking

There are several other places that you will need to contact once you have your marriage certificate. Remember, that you will need the original marriage certificate and no copies. The original one has the raised seal. This is a vital step on how to change your name after marriage; not having it will hold up the entire process.

Social Security Department

DMV

Local Post Office

Internal Revenue Service

Correct Your Voter Information

Banks and Other Debtors

Passport and Other Legal Papers

Utility and Electric Bills

Update Your Airline

Conclusion

woman laying on autumn leaves

Not having a lot of stress is the key after one gets married. We want to keep living our happily ever after for as long as we can. By learning how to change your name after marriage, we are ensuring that no unwanted surprises will come your way. It is best to take care of the legal requirements right away and get your marriage license so that you can apply for the changes to your accounts, credit cards, and all other necessary documents. Once this is all done, you can breathe easier and enjoy your new life with a new name.  

How to Become A US Citizen: Understanding The Legal Process

U.S. Citizenship has become a hot topic in the media, especially with the controversy over immigration and the refugee crisis. Millions of people worldwide dream of becoming a citizen of the United States, lured by the ideals of the American dream and full of hope for expanded possibilities. However, the actual process involved for how to become a US citizen is complicated and extensive, with numerous requirements to fulfill. There are a few different paths that an immigrant can take depending on his or her life circumstances.

Becoming a citizen of the United States gives immigrants many new opportunities, but there is great difficulty and complexity in learning how to become a US citizen and all the legalities involved. While the smartest move is probably to get an immigration lawyer to help you navigate the laws, here is some general information to give you an idea of what's involved, as you seek to learn how to become a US citizen.

4 Ways to Become a US Citizen

If you have been following recent politics or come into contact with immigrants, you may have wondered how to become a US citizen. There are four main paths to citizenship, each of which has different rules and requirements. There are typically many steps along the journey, and it can take many years: a fact that can be discouraging for those striving to become a citizen. It is also necessary to prove that the incoming immigrant is a moral person who plans on being a contributor to, rather than a leech upon, society.

How to Become a US Citizen: Naturalization

USA flag

One way to obtain citizenship is through naturalization, the legal process that an immigrant or foreign citizen must go through to become a U.S. citizen. There are certain requirements that an applicant must complete, including the completion of an application, attending an interview, and passing English and civics test. Once these steps have been completed, the applicant takes an oath of allegiance and is accepted as a U.S. citizen. These criteria help to ensure that only genuinely committed immigrants become citizens of the United States.

The first step in becoming a naturalized citizen through naturalization is obtaining a green card, which means that you are a legal permanent resident of the United States. This allows you to work and live in the United States freely. You may obtain a green card if you:

  • have a relative living legally in the United States
  • receive a job offer in the United States
  • have lived legally in the United States as a refugee or asylum seeker for a year
statue of liberty

Relatives living legally in the States can immediately sponsor a spouse, child under 21 years of age, or parent. If the U.S. citizen wants to sponsor a sibling or child over 21 years of age, the wait time is much longer: typically a few years. Those with a job offer can petition themselves for a green card or ask their employer to do so. This strategy of obtaining U.S. citizenship is a popular route, but it can take a long time.

How to Become a US Citizen: Marriage

wedding rings

Another viable option for receiving U.S. citizenship is through marriage. To use this route, you must apply for a green card by submitting the Form I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative, which establishes the relationship between the immigrant and the resident. You must show evidence of the marriage with official documents such as a marriage certificate.

If the immigrant spouse lives with the U.S. citizen already, they can adjust their status as the Form I-130 is being completed. The other form to submit is the Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status, which can be turned in with the Form I-130. If the immigrant spouse lives outside of the United States, they must wait to acquire a visa and then have an interview at a consulate or embassy. Once the spouse is accepted as a citizen of the U.S., they can file to adjust status with Form I-485.

How to Become a US Citizen: Parents

mother and daughter

Some immigrants achieve U.S. citizenship through having parents who legally live in the U.S. The parents must be married to each other and have physically lived in a state or territory of the U.S. for at least five years before the child in question is born. Two of those five years must have been after the parent was 14 years old, and the child's birthdate needs to be on or after November 14, 1986. One exception to the five year rule is if the U.S. citizen parent spent time serving in the American armed forces or worked for the U.S. government.

Another way to gain citizenship through parents is through adoption. Parents must have legal custody of the child in question, and they must have lived with the child in the United States for at least two years. It is necessary for the child to be accepted into the United States as an orphan or conventional adoptee. The child must be adopted outside of the United States before turning 18 years old.

How to Become a US Citizen: Military Service

soldier lending his hand to two young boys

If you serve in the United States military and are wondering how to become a US citizen, you can be eligible to apply for naturalization if you complete some of the requirements that apply to the five-year green card holders. Along with serving in the military, applicants must prove certain aspects about themselves to show that they will be a benefit to American society.

They must show that they are a person of good moral standing, have not been convicted of any serious crimes, pay taxes, pay any child support they might owe, and are overall viewed as a positive community member. In addition, they must be literate in English and understand the basics of U.S. history and government.

The requirements for applicants to achieve citizenship through the military vary depending on if the country is at war or at peace. A person serving during a period of hostility may apply for naturalization immediately as long as they complete their military service honorably. For applicants who serve in the military during peacetime, the applicant must serve for at least one year and get a green card. Those serving during peacetime must apply while still in military service or within six months of ending that service.

Do You Need an Immigration Attorney?

hammer and book of justice

If you are unsure of the next steps or qualifications after researching how to become us citizen, it is a good idea to find an immigration attorney. If you have already attempted to become a citizen and discovered that you were ineligible, it's time to ask an attorney to determine how to fix your situation. If you have issues with your record regarding a criminal past or difficulty paying taxes or child support, discuss with your immigration attorney how to solve this problem.

If you are unsure if you meet the requirements for naturalization, or you believe that you should receive an exception, you may be able to fix your situation with the help of an attorney.

Personal & Residential Requirements & Other Helpful Information

business man speaking on the phone while dotting on some notes

Another requirement for naturalization is being fingerprinted, which involves making an appointment with the USCIS, getting your fingerprints taken, and mailing additional documents if necessary. The next step involves being interviewed and tested, a part of the process that can be time consuming and stress inducing for immigrants.

You must make an appointment, bring your identification, answer questions about your background, and take your English and civic tests. After passing all of your tests and interviews, you are expected to take the last step: the oath of allegiance. To complete this phase, applicants must check in to a ceremony, return the Permanent Resident Card, answer questions about your whereabouts since you completed your interview, and take the oath.

Conclusion

The process of is long and complicated, full of steps that require planning and persistence. The United States takes citizenship very seriously, since being a citizen of our country is seen as a great privilege and a way to gain access to many opportunities. To become a part of our country, you must demonstrate that you have earned this right through your upstanding moral character and willingness to persist through the many steps of the citizenship process.  The United States is full of diverse and talented people, many of whom have come from afar to find a better life or to escape struggles back home. Part of the beauty of this country is its blend of different experiences and cultures. The phrase "melting pot" was aptly chosen as a description of American society.  The keys to becoming a US citizen are to be determined to contribute meaningfully to society, to have the diligence to follow through on all the application process requirements, and possibly to get an attorney to help you. Most immigrants who have attained their citizenship through this kind of hard work and determination will tell you that the process is well worth it.

How To Get Power Of Attorney: Everything You Need To Know

The question of how to get power of attorney is an important one, and it’s one you should ask yourself. Do you need a power of attorney for any reason? Do you need to issue a power of attorney for anything? There might not seem to be much reason right now for you to give power to someone else in a legal capacity, but you may not be aware of the many reasons a power of attorney is necessary for your everyday life. It’s time to learn what it is, what it means, and how it can protect you in the rare instance you are unable to make a decision on your own.

How to get power of attorney is simple. Contact an attorney, create a power of attorney for any necessary reason, and allow someone else to make legal, medical, or financial decisions on your part at any time you are unable to do so for yourself. Before you sign a power of attorney allowing someone else to do anything for you, however, understand what you are signing and what it means. It’s a binding legal document, and you must be aware of what it means to you and your family before you sign the dotted line.

What Is Power of Attorney and What Does It Do?

Before you learn how to get power of attorney, let's understand what it is. It’s a legal document that provides power to you or to someone of your choice to make legal, financial, or medical decisions in the instance you or someone else is unable to do so. If you become incapacitated and cannot make legal, financial, or medical decisions, the person you hand over power of attorney to has the right to make those decisions on your behalf. This form is very specific, and it does not simply provide someone with the power to make all your legal, financial, or medical decisions if not specifically stated on the power of attorney legal document.

Choosing A Power of Attorney

Before you learn how to get power of attorney, you must learn how to choose your power of attorney. This person is making major life decisions in your absence, either physically or mentally, and you must be able to trust this person. It’s best to provide a power of attorney to multiple people, in multiple instances, to ensure the best decisions are being made.

You should choose someone who meets the following requirements.

  • Trustworthy
  • Responsible
  • Wise
  • Careful
  • Considerate
  • Intelligent
  • Has your best interests at heart

Choosing someone to hand over power attorney to is a careful decision. This person is capable of making decisions on your behalf when you cannot. If they make the wrong decision, will you be able to survive that decision? Most people choose a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or even their personal attorney to stand as their power of attorney.

Reasons You May Need Power of Attorney

agreement of 2 people

Before you learn how to get power of attorney, you should know why you might need one.

  • To make medical decisions
  • You are going on a trip
  • You are leaving your kids with a loved one while traveling
  • You are being deployed
  • You are planning for a specific event

There is no limit to the number of reasons you might need a power of attorney.

Medical Reasons

If you ask someone to become a power of attorney for medical reasons, it might be for more than one reason. For example, you might ask them to make medical decisions because you are going under the knife, and you want someone to be there to make medical decisions in case you cannot.

On another note, you might have a medical power of attorney in case something happens. Having someone around to make your legal medical decisions in case something unexpected happens to you in the future and you become incapacitated is not a bad idea. For example, if you are injured in a car accident you didn’t see coming, having a medical power of attorney helps you when you are unable to make your own medical decisions.

You Are Active Military

Not only do you need a power of attorney when you are in the military for medical reasons, but you also need it for financial reasons. For example, let’s say you are deployed, but you and your spouse are also selling your home. If that sale goes through, you cannot be home to sign the paperwork at closing. You need to have a power of attorney present to sign on your behalf. Your attorney or your spouse make a good power of attorney choice for a situation like this one.

You Are Traveling

Whether you’re just on a trip around the world or you’re in the Caribbean for a long weekend, you need a power of attorney for several reasons. The first is in case something happens, and you need someone to have access to your financial records when you are away. You never know what might happen while traveling, and you never know when you need access to more funds you can only get in person.

The other reason this is a good idea is that you have children, and they’re home with a grandparent or relative. If something happens to your child while you are away, you need to provide the power of attorney to the person who is keeping them to make quick medical decisions. The last thing you want is to be out of the country or too far away to get to the hospital in a timely manner when your child needs medical attention, and there is no one there with the power to provide permission.

Types of Power of Attorney

man signing in a document

Now that you know why you might need a power of attorney, you must know what kind you need. There are four major types of power of attorney. Getting to know each one is important. It’s also imperative you learn that you might need more than just one for various reasons.

Springing Power of Attorney

When decided how to get power of attorney in your life, you should know about this one. It’s designed to give power to someone else only when a specific instance occurs. For example, you are incapacitated and unable to make a decision on your own.

Durable Power of Attorney

This is a power of attorney used for a lifetime. It doesn’t matter what it is for, only that you must sign documents when you want to revoke this power of attorney. It is a long-term legal matter.

Medical Power of Attorney

This type of power of attorney is used when you are unable to make sound decisions. It’s not necessarily a document that allows someone to make medical decisions. It’s used when you are no longer of sound mind and body, which renders you incapable of making decisions on your own.

Conventional Power of Attorney

This is called a limited power of attorney because it’s specific. You only give the power to make a very specific decision in a very specific situation. For example, you sign this stating the power of attorney can sign on the sale of your home only if you are on a plane without cellular service at the time of closing. If every detail is not accounted for, the power of attorney is not valid.

How to Get Power of Attorney

How to get a power of attorney is simple, but you must follow a certain number of steps. It’s important you don’t miss any steps because you can hinder your ability to get the power of attorney. First, you must talk to the person you want to become your power of attorney. They are okay with must agree to be the responsible party in your specific situation. They will be required to sign the legal document as well.

The next step is to determine the type of power of attorney you need. You can print a form from the Internet, or you can speak to your attorney about this. Now, check with the state in which you live to find out what the requirements are when learning how to get power of attorney for your specific situation. If you want to be sure your document is as legal and binding as possible, simply call your attorney. Once you have the form, you and the person you choose to be your agent must sign it. Notarizing the form is helpful, too. Now, make copies and provide it to the person you chose, keep one for yourself, and give one to your attorney or put it in a safe deposit box or safe.

Conclusion

How to get a power of attorney is easy, but it’s figuring out what kind you need, how to word it, and how to ensure it’s legally binding without any question that’s the difficult part. You must know what you need, and you must ensure that your document is carefully worded to ensure that it conveys the message you are trying to send. Call an attorney to help you with your power of attorney if you’re unsure what you’re doing. Legal matters are always best handled when you know you’re making the correct decisions that will be legal and binding.

How To Change Your Name: Understanding The Legal Process

Have you ever wondered how to change your name? The legal process might be more complicated than you think.

Whether you’re getting married, switching back to your maiden name after a divorce, looking for a name that better fits your identity, or just looking for a change of pace, changing your name is a way to adjust your identity to make you feel more comfortable and confident.

What’s in a name? A lot of paperwork, apparently. Changing your name seems fairly simple, but it can be a complicated, lengthy, costly process. In circumstances outside of marriage and divorce, changing your name requires attending a court hearing and explaining to a judge why you chose your new name. You will also need to update your name everywhere that it's currently used, which can be a time-consuming and headache-inducing process.

If you're thinking of making the switch, it's important to know how to change your name before embarking on the process, so you're fully prepared.

Reasons to Change Your Name

There are quite a few reasons why someone might choose to change their name.

Marriage and Divorce

These huge life events often inspire name changes. Since women traditionally take their husband's last name after marriage and revert to their maiden name after a divorce, their name-changing process is streamlined. There's less paperwork, and the process doesn't involve a court hearing. If a husband is taking his wife's name instead, the name-changing process is only streamlined in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, and North Dakota.

It's also becoming more common for a couple to combine their last names into a new name by joining their names with a hyphen or melding them together into an entirely new name. This name-combining process is streamlined in some states, but not all. If you're looking into how to change your name to a combined name, you will need to research the process in your specific state.

Disliking Your Name

Maybe your parents got a little too creative when choosing your first name and you’re stuck with a name that’s difficult to spell or pronounce, negatively impacting your social life or career. Maybe your last name sounds similar to something inappropriate, making you the subject of ridicule at school or work. Maybe you’re just sick of not being able to find your name on personalized items in gift shops.

Or maybe you have the opposite problem and you’re stuck with a popular name that’s overused. Maybe you’re sick of having to stop what you’re doing and look up whenever someone calls out “Sarah?” or “Mike?” and you want a name that's a little more unique and distinctive.

Whatever your personal reason is, your name represents you and introduces you to others. If you feel strongly that you’d be happier with another name, you might be interested in learning how to change your name.

Matching Your New Identity

If you are transitioning genders, changing your name to reflect your new identity may help you feel comfortable and confident. It can also encourage friends and family to learn to stop calling you by your old name and embrace your new identity.

Embracing Family History

Maybe you want to take the name of a relative or ancestor whom you admire, or resurrect an old surname that your family stopped using over time; you might choose to honor your family's history by adopting the name and preserving it for future generations.

Reasons You Can’t Change Your Name

Most people are allowed to change their names for any reason they choose, but there are a few reasons why you might be prevented from completing the name-changing process.

You need to be careful of what name you pick; you can’t give yourself an intentionally misleading name, like a celebrity name. You can't change your name to a racial slur or anything that’s offensive or threatening. You also can’t change your name to escape debt, hide from criminal liability, or to commit a crime.

Impacts of Changing Your Name

name changing discussion

Our names are incredibly important parts of our lives and our identities, and changing them requires time, patience, and paperwork. Once you have your new name, how will the change affect your life?

Social Impact

Your friends and family have been calling you by your original name your entire life, so it might take them time to adjust to your new name. They may initially slip up or hesitate to call you by your new name.

Your parents might not take to the new name right away; chances are, if they chose your name for you, it might disappoint them to see you let it go. However, you need to remind them that it's your name and your choice. You're the one who has to go through life with your name, so it's important that you're happy with it.

Patience is key; remind your loved ones about your new name if they ever forget, and hope that they’ll eventually catch on and respect your choice.

Updating Your Name

Once you change your name, you will need to let everyone in your life know. This includes updating your social media profiles, credit cards, voter registration, license and passport, subscriptions, and so on.

This can cause a hectic period after the name-changing process, especially if you slip up and forget to change something important. For instance, if you don't update your driver's license and passport, you might have difficulty traveling.

The name-changing process requires a lot of organization and, inevitably, some stress. It’s important to make a list of all the various institutions that know you by your old name so you can inform them of the change. You will also need to keep track of all the new documents you'll be receiving, as your old documents no longer accurately represent you.

How to Change Your Name

court sign documents

The process of how to change your name varies depending on the circumstances.

After Marriage

This process is a little simpler than other methods of changing your name as it's more common.

First, contact the Social Security Administration. You’ll need to fill out a form and mail their offices a few different forms of identification and your marriage certificate. Your new documentation should come in the mail.

After Divorce

The process of changing your last name back to your maiden name after divorce is usually handled during divorce proceedings. Your Decree of Dissolution should reflect your name change.

Other Reasons

Changing your name for any reason other than marriage becomes a little more complicated; the government wants to make sure you’re not making the name change for shady reasons. You’ll need to file a Petition for Change of Name with your local court clerk and attend a court hearing.

Don’t be intimidated by the court hearing; it's not as scary as it sounds. Although the process involves physically going to court and explaining the name change to a judge, you won't need to make a hard case for your new name. The hearing is just standard procedure to make sure you’re not using the name change to run from debt, trick someone, or commit a crime. The very idea of a hearing should dissuade the name-changers who are in it for the wrong reasons.

Petition

The petition you file includes your current name, proposed name, and Social Security number. You may also have to sign the petition to assert that you’re not changing your name for criminal reasons.

You have to sign the petition in front of a witness and notary. You may need to pay between $100 to $150 to file the name-change petition, and an additional fee to have it notarized. Once the form is in, your court hearing will be scheduled.

Court Hearing

During the hearing, you’ll answer questions from a judge or a magistrate about why you want to change your name. Unless the judge thinks the name you've chosen is threatening or that you're changing for criminal reasons, he or she should approve your new name. You’ll then receive a certified copy of the Court Order, which you need to present to various institutions as verification of your new name.

You might also be required to announce your new name in a newspaper ad. If creditors or other interested parties see the name change, it gives them the opportunity to object. You’ll have to pay a fee to post the announcement.

After the Name Change

The next step is letting various institutions know that you’ve changed your name so they can continue to contact you.

Some of these institutions include:

  • The IRS
  • Your employer
  • Landlord
  • Post office
  • Your school or alumni association
  • Airlines where you have rewards points or miles

And anywhere else you might have a subscription or plan.

Conclusion

Chances are, if you’ve researched how to change your name and you're still willing to go through this lengthy, involved process, you’ve got your heart set on the new you. Although the entire process can be tedious and costly, especially if you're changing for reasons other than marriage or divorce, it's worth it to have a name that fits your identity and makes you feel happy and comfortable.

Just be sure to spell your new name correctly when filing your paperwork; having to change your name a second time because of a typo would be embarrassing!