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Changing Your Last Name December 1, 2015

While many brides opt to take their husbands' surnames upon tying the knot, over the years the popularity of such a decision has ebbed and flowed. Recent years have suggested the practice is once again gaining steam.

A 2011 study published in Names: A Journal of Onomastics indicates that younger brides are more likely to embrace the tradition of taking their husbands' names in marriage. According to the study, women who married between the ages of 35 and 39 were 6.4 times more likely to keep their maiden names than those who married between the ages of 20 and 24.

Many brides view taking their spouse's name as the natural transition from being single to being a married woman. Other brides prefer to share the same last name as their future children, making the choice to take their husband's name a logical decision. Some brides believe that having the same last name as their husband helps them feel more like a family.

Changing one's name also may make it easier to deal with various issues. Finances, travel and even parenting concerns may be easier when women take their husbands' last names than when they don't.

But some brides still prefer to keep their maiden names or hyphenate those names with their husbands' surnames. Some may view changing their names as sacrificing their personal identities, while others may want to hold on to a family name of which they are proud. Interesting names also can be hard to give up. A bride who finds taking her husband's name would be a tongue-twister may also prefer to forego the tradition.

Very often women who occupy positions of prominence in their professions keep their maiden names, feeling that taking their husbands' names will affect the cache they have built up. Women uncertain of what to do in such situations can keep their maiden names professionally and still change their names legally.

Changing one's last name is a personal preference and a decision that couples should discuss together. Discuss the decision well in advance of the wedding so that both parties are aware of each other's feelings on the subject before tying the knot.

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From Ms. to Mrs. August 28, 2013

After a bride says "I do" to a life with her new husband, she often says "I do" to a new last name. Changing your surname will require certain steps to ensure the legality of a change in identity.

Because a name change will require a copy of the marriage certificate -- something that often isn't obtained until after the ceremony -- it's best to wait until after you've returned from a honeymoon to change documentation. Also, in order to travel, you may require birth certificates, passports, a license, or another form of ID. It will be impossible to change all of those forms of identification before the wedding. Inconsistent documentation could cause hang-ups in the travel process. Additionally, you may be charged if you try to change your name on airline tickets after they've already been issued.

Ready to get started? Here are most of the documents you'll need to change as you take on your new married name.

1. Social Security Card: If you are a U.S. resident, you will need to go to your local Social Security Office or download a form from the IRS website to apply for a change of name on your Social Security Card. It takes approximately 10 days after the application is received for the IRS to update the records.

2. Driver's license: In order to change your driver's license and vehicle registration, you'll likely have to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles. You will need several forms of identification: your marriage certificate proving your change of name, your Social Security Card, and your old driver's license. You will also want to be sure to change your car title documentation and your registration card.

3. Passport: Contact the Passport Agency to update your name on your passport. You may or may not be charged for the new issue, depending upon how long it's been since you applied for a passport.

4. Insurance policies: If you have health insurance, life insurance, or a 401(k) plan, you should communicate your change of name to the respective companies.

5. Bank accounts: Guests will likely issue gift checks in your married name or as a couple. It helps to have an account available in which to deposit those checks. You can choose to merge your banking accounts once married or open up a joint account with your new name.

6. Employer: Have your employer change your name in their records and update payroll and any other services. You will also want to update email signatures to reflect your new name and have your IT director change your information for computer logins and email addresses. A courtesy email to clients will fill them in on your name change. Be sure to alert the appropriate person if you require new business cards or a new name plate.

7. Credit card & utility companies: Notify these companies of a change of name. Some may require written documentation to complete the change.

8. Wills and other legal contracts: Have legal documents, including property deeds, amended to feature your updated name. You may want to change your beneficiary to your husband on applicable items.

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