Taking a new name after marriage brings with it a number of legal questions. Traditionally, women took their husband's last name as their own after marrying. Thanks to women's rights movements, more women began hyphenating their last names, keeping their maiden surnames and adding the husband's. Today, more and more couples are joining names, with the husband and wife both changing their last names to a hyphenated combination.
However you change your name, you'll need to follow certain steps to change your name on legal documents and assets, such as your bank account.
Read More: How to Change Names on a Mortgage
Change Name on Bank Account
You won't be able to walk into a bank, call them on the phone or send an email or letter asking them to change names on bank accounts, asking them to take your word for it. They'll need proof.
Since you're going to need to change your name on a variety of legal documents, it might be a good idea to first get your name changed on your government-issued passport or driver's license. This is all the proof many businesses and agencies will need.
Get an extra copy of your marriage license and certificate, which will also be very helpful when you want to change other accounts with your maiden name on them.
If you lose these documents, having backups will help you avoid long delays in making changes. Be aware that some institutions might not accept a photocopy or scan, so get an official copy and have it notarized, if possible.
Read More: How to Change a Name on a Credit Card
Call Your Bank
Call your bank to find out the steps you need to change your name on your account. This will often require coming into a branch so you can not only present your proof of name change, but also change your signature on your signature card. This protects not only the bank, but also you. You might need to wait until you have a new driver's license, passport and/or Social Security card.
Read More: How to Notify the IRS of a Name Change
Follow Your Bank’s Instructions
Once you've talked to your bank and know the drill, follow the instructions. Visit your bank and check in with the greeter, or wait in line to let a teller know what you need to do. Have your marriage certificate and any other IDs you have ready to help the bank associate verify your new name. This will usually require a government-issued photo ID. Without this, anyone could come into a bank with someone else's marriage certificate and ask for the change.
If you haven't practiced writing your new signature, do so before you come in. The signature you provide the bank to verify checks you write or endorse is the one you'll be stuck with. Be prepared to fill out a change-of-name form, present your marriage certificate, show your photo ID and write your signature as you will do so on checks or other financial instruments.