Legally changing your name is something that many people are curious about.
There’s something appealing about a new identity, whether it’s to embark on a fresh new phase of reinvention, or to establish a new family line for generations to come.
For example, if you have recently discovered that you are related to one of the great aristocratic families of Europe, you may decide to formally give that lineage a new future through your descendants.
Whatever the reason for wanting to legally change your name, there are essentially three routes available – either you opt to do all the homework, admin and follow up yourself; you hire experts to do it for you; or you instruct a lawyer to handle the legalities.
Doing It Yourself
While it can be a complex process to legally change your name, it is usually possible to do it yourself, as long as you can understand basic official documentation and manage the required paperwork and processes.
The legalities for changing a name can vary from country to country, and even sometimes within a country, so the first step is to find out what the legal requirements are in the country or region where you live.
Getting in touch with your local governing body or legal registrations department will help you in accessing the correct information for how to begin. They will guide you in sourcing the relevant forms to complete to officially begin the name change process.
If you choose the DIY route to legally changing your name, be prepared to back up your applications with plenty of official documentation, such as passports, driving licences, utility bills, proof of address etc.
Changing your name is a serious business and will be subject to many legal checks and identity references along the way.
However, as long as you are prepared to organise the appropriate documentation, it is not a difficult task to change your name legally yourself, or to add a title – for example if you were to acquire a new noble or aristocratic status or rank, such as Lord, Baron, Count or Duke.
In such cases, the specialist companies that provide such nobility titles often include for free a copy of the official Master Title Deed required to prove your new status. This makes it easy and straightforward to change your name or add the title to bank cards and official documents etc…
Hiring Specialist Name Change Services
Legally changing a name can be a confusing, complex and time-consuming process, so it’s not surprising that a range of service providers have emerged that will gladly support you in the process for a fee.
If you’d like to hand over all the administration work and complicated processes to the experts, you can hire name change specialists to take charge on your behalf.
Depending on the reason for your name change, you may need to do some homework in sourcing the right service provider for you. For example, some services are specialists in handling the legal documentation involved in changing a name after marriage or divorce.
A good place to begin is to search online for name change services, including any specific requirements you have in your personal circumstances, such as ancestral surnames or aristocratic heritage, for example.
Instructing a Lawyer
If you have a family lawyer or law firm that you use regularly, speak to them about the services they can provide.
Even if they don’t personally manage that type of process, they will be able to advise you on the most appropriate steps to take, either within the same law firm or in instructing the right legal support elsewhere.
Updating your records
It’s important to know that whichever route you choose for legally changing your name, you will be responsible for ensuring that all future records and official documentation are coordinated with your new name change.
For example, you’ll need to ensure that all your bank accounts and utility providers are notified of your new details.
It can take a number of months, if not years, for all the many references and records of your identity to be updated with your new name change.
Fees & Expenses
It’s also essential to bear in mind that there will be some costs involved in legally changing your name, regardless of whether you choose to manage the process yourself or hire a lawyer or specialist service to assist you.
If you choose to employ a specialist agency, you will be notified of the expenses involved at the beginning of the process.
If you are using a family lawyer or ongoing legal support team, they are likely to simply do the work required and then present you with a bill, either upon completion of the process or at interim periods throughout the process. For example, some law firms will issue a monthly bill for ongoing services rendered.
If your legal support team works on a retainer, it’s possible that the name change legalities may be included, if so, this is something that could be discussed with your lawyer.
If you prefer to handle the name change process yourself, there are likely to be a number of administrative fees and expenses from the relevant governing bodies or legal departments.
While it’s important to be aware that some of these expenses may be involved in the process, these fees are likely to be relatively small considerations, especially in comparison to hiring a specialist service or instructing a lawyer.
Enjoying Your New Name
While it may involve some administration and expense, at some point you will be able to enjoy your new name knowing that you are legally entitled to call yourself by your chosen moniker.
Over time, all your references and documentation will be updated to your new identity and you can begin fully enjoying the benefits you imagined when you embarked on the process of legally changing your name.
Perhaps you imagined booking a table at your favourite restaurant using your impressive new surname. Or maybe you wanted to honour an ancestral line by recording your lineage in a new marriage certificate or birth announcement. Or maybe you simply loved the idea of seeing a name that is meaningful to you whenever you sign your name, use your bank cards or fill out an identity form.
After the work of legally changing your name is complete, you can look forward to the new phase of your life with this exciting or meaningful new identity, knowing that it is officially, legally and permanently your new name, reflecting all that this new identity represents to you and to others.