Do you Want to Change your Name? How Probate Courts Help!

For various reasons, sometimes people want to change their first or last name to something more fitting or appealing. Maybe the name change is needed because of a family situation, such as a divorce, or an adoption. In many states, the probate court takes care of this process, because it becomes an essential part of the probate procedures later on in life. In most states, anyone can choose to use any name as long as it is not for an illegal or dishonest reason.

If you choose to legally change your name, then it will be noted in public record and you will need to change your driver's license and other forms of identification. When you want to legally change your name in every aspect, then the process normally requires that you go to court. The first step in changing your name to something new is filing a petition. You will need to fill out the appropriate name change petition paperwork and file it at the local Probate court in your jurisdiction. If your name is inconsistent with public interests, then you may be denied.

In Massachusetts, people who want to change their name must send a certified copy of their birth certificate and any prior judgment or record that amended their name a first time. When you attempt to change your name, you will need to provide exactly what you want your first, middle, and last name to be, and inform the court of what your current first, middle, and last name is. This must be printed exactly as it appears on your birth certificate, unless your name has been previously changed by a court order.

If you are from a foreign country and want to change your name because of its foreign nature, then you will need to locate your original birth certificate and have it translated into English by an authorized source. Along with this information, you will probably need to provide your address, date of birth, place of birth, and social security number on the petition form. The form normally costs $150 to obtain, and there is normally a menial surcharge for the filing process. Once the court receives your petition, they will send the information to the commissioner of probation in your state. Then, the commissioner will review the request, and approve or deny your name.

In some counties, the probate court may require that your new name is posted in the local newspaper. This helps to assure that you did not want your new name for a devious or illegal purpose, because the information will be posted publically. If you file a petition to change the name of your child, then you may need to publish the name in the newspaper as well- especially if one parent does not consent to the name change. If you do not want to publish your name change in a newspaper, you may need to file an affidavit which will show a "good cause" for waiving the newspaper requirement.

After all of this is finished, you will probably need to attend a hearing at your local probate court to finalize your name change. You will appear before a judge and ask for your petition to be permitted. At that time, the judge will read your petition aloud and may ask you questions concerning your name change. Often these questions will be friendly in nature. You may be asked why you want to change your name, and why you want the name you have chosen. If he the judge determines that it is not hindering to society for you to change your name, then you will receive a certificate officiating your new name, and it will be changed on all of your forms of identification.