Your name is a reflection of your identity. Even though you didn’t choose your birth name, you should have some control and autonomy over what you’re called in public. Changing your name should be a relatively straightforward process, and for many people, it is. But sometimes, little things can go wrong, complicating the name change process and occasionally resulting in denial.
If you want to change your name successfully, there are some strategies you’ll need to follow.
Changing Your Name Successfully
Are you thinking about changing your name?
If so, make sure you follow these tips to improve your chances of changing that name successfully:
1. Review the process. Before you get too far into the steps of changing your name legally, take a moment to review the process. The process of changing your name legally differs from area to area, and there may be important steps that you didn’t anticipate. For example, you may need a deed poll to provide evidence that you’ve started using a new name. Pay careful attention to valid and invalid reasons for changing your name, types of names that are appropriate or inappropriate, and the paperwork you’ll need to fill out before your name change is reviewed. While this is usually a simple legal process, if you have more complicated legal considerations to weigh, it may be in your best interest to hire a lawyer.
2. Try out your new name. If you haven’t already, take the time to try out your new proposed name. Does this really fit your personality? Is it easy to say? Do people have any issues spelling it? How does it feel when people call you by this name? It’s unwise to change your name based on an impulse; this testing ground practically guarantees that you’ll be able to change your name without regretting it.
3. Consider your motivations. It’s also a good idea to spend some time considering your motivations. Why do you want to change your name? Some people want to update their name when getting married or divorced, so they can better reflect their family status. Some people change their names for religious or personal identity reasons. Others just want to change their name because they’re bored and they need some more excitement in their lives; this is arguably a less valid motivation.
4. Give yourself time. It’s not uncommon for people to regret changing their names – even for innocuous, common reasons. Accordingly, you should give yourself time to contemplate this decision. If you’ve already been considering changing your name for years, feel free to move forward. But if this is just an idea that popped into your head a few hours ago, you might want to give it more time.
5. Take things one step at a time. The process for changing your name is usually simpler than other legal matters, but it can still be somewhat overwhelming. This is especially true when you start changing your name on all your identity documents and personal accounts. To make things more manageable, try to take the process only one step at a time. Don’t bog yourself down by trying to do everything at once.
6. Choose an appropriate name. Review bodies are usually quite lenient when it comes to approving name changes with valid motivations. But you can increase your chances of approval by choosing an appropriate name. Don’t select a name with offensive or inflammatory elements.
7. Fill out the paperwork completely. When it’s time to fill out paperwork, fill it out completely and accurately, to the best of your ability. You don’t want a simple mistake to hold you up.
8. Consider sealing records. Depending on where you live, you may be able to seal your name change records. This prevents your records from being publicly available; it could be a way to keep the details of your original name hidden and keep your identity safe.
9. Update all your records, paperwork, and accounts. When your name change is legally approved, you’ll be ready to start updating all your records, paperwork, and accounts. Start with vital things like your driver’s license and bank account and work your way to less substantial matters.
10. Get help if you need it. Finally, don’t be afraid to get help if and when you need it.
Toward a New Identity
At this point, you should have everything you need to begin the process of changing your name. If all goes well, you may be able to complete your name change after just a few weeks. From there, you’ll be able to fully embody your new identity, whether you consider yourself part of a new family, a more devout member of a major religion, or just more connected to yourself as an individual.
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