Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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Name change is a plus after divorce

Spouses should make legal, financial and personal changes after their marriage ends and the divorce decree is issued. A spouse who changed their name when they got married should consider taking their earlier pre-marriage name back.

The paperwork and documents needed to make this change can be burdensome, but the financial costs are not unreasonable. For example, changing a name on a passport costs $110.00. One of the most obvious places to change names is at the bank. This may take some time because a spouse may have several accounts at one financial institution, but changing a name on one account may not carry over to other accounts.

Nonetheless, a spouse should consider having their bank accounts, debit cards and checks in their original name. A spouse who does not have a trust should also update their named account beneficiaries to assure that the funds do not go to a former spouse or other unintended beneficiary.

Another adult signer should also be added to a power of attorney. This is important for someone else to pay bills or take care of other personal matters if the spouse becomes sick or incapacitated. Likewise, pre-marriage names should be reinstated on IRAs and mortgages, which are separate from bank accounts. Name changes on mortgages also must be reflected on tax and insurance accounts. Like bank accounts, beneficiary information should also be updated.

Name change is also important for credit cards. Each company has different methods, such as completing a form and returning it with a copy of a driver's license, online upload systems or taking information over the telephone. Returning the spouse's pre-marital name on titled property, such as a car or home, helps alleviate problems if this property is sold or the owner dies. This generally requires filing forms.

Reinstating earlier names on certain bills is also significant. These include insurance policies for vehicles, the home and long-term health care. In an emergency, the proper name help avoids proving that the couple is divorced. Other bills have less priority, especially if auto-pay is used.

An experienced attorney, in addition to protecting a spouse's rights, can help provide guidance on important matters after the marriage ends. They can also seek a reasonable decree or settlement that provides for financial and legal security.

Source: Reuters, "Your money: Cost of a name change after divorce? Priceless," Beth Pinsker, March 26, 2018

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