To Change or Not to Change
For years, you may have taken your own surname for granted, but faced with its possible loss, you may find yourself more attached to the name than you realized. This is the name you went through school with, the name you went to work with, the name everyone knows you by. It feels like a part of you. On the other hand, maybe your last name is ten syllables long, no one can ever pronounce or spell it right, and you can't wait to get rid of it.
For professional reasons, I don't want to abandon my own name completely. What are my options? Lucky for you, when it is time to change your name there are options:
Use your maiden name as your middle name and your husband's as your last. So if Jennifer Andrews married Trevor Miller, she'd be Jennifer Andrews Miller.
Hyphenate the two last names: Jennifer Andrews-Miller. This means that the two separate last names are now joined to make one name (kind of like a marriage). You keep your regular middle name, but saying your full name can be a mouthful: Jennifer Marie Andrews-Miller.
Take your husband's name legally, but use your maiden name professionally. In everyday life and social situations, you'd use your married name, but in the office, you'd use the same name you always had.
Hyphenate both your and your husband's last names: Jennifer Andrews-Miller and Trevor Andrews-Miller.
Make It Legal
How do I make my name change official? Before you can make any official changes to your name, you will need to have a copy of your certified marriage license. Then you can download forms from the Internet and begin the process. Among other things, you will need a new social security card and legally valid form of identification, usually a driver's license.
Who needs to be notified of my name change? If one or both of you will be changing your name after marriage, you should be sure to update the following:
Bank accounts (savings, checking, 401(k) plans, investment accounts, etc.)
Internal Revenue Service records
Pension plan records
Post office listings
School records or alumni listings
Utility and telephone information
Name-change kits are widely available and provide the proper forms and information you need to legally change your name. Each state has its own requirements, so be sure to purchase a kit that is customized for your state.
Stating your Preference
I have decided not to change my name. What do I do when someone incorrectly refers to me by my husband's name? It's an assumption people commonly make unless they know otherwise. You can either let it pass or politely correct the person, depending on how important the issue is to you. To avoid this awkwardness, you may wish to take the initiative and introduce yourself to strangers first: “Hi, I'm Jennifer Andrews, Trevor Miller's wife.”
I'm keeping my maiden name and I'm a little nervous about telling my in-laws for fear of offending them. How should I handle this? You're right to be sensitive to your in-laws' concerns. Explain the reason for your decision (for example, that you've already established a career identity with your maiden name) and emphasize that your decision in no way reflects a lack of respect for their family. Ask your spouse to voice his support of your decision.