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What's in a Name? The Pros and Cons of Changing Your Name

Decades ago, it was pretty much a given that we take our spouse's last name—most people didn't give it much thought and followed through with all the paperwork. Today, however, is a bit different because keeping one's maiden name is no longer an anomaly. If you're torn between traditional and contemporary approaches to last names, read on about the perks and headaches of what it means to make the name change.

Photography by: BernardaSv/Getty

Pro: Everyone in the family will have the same last name.

No need to prove that you're actually Johnny's mom, not a kidnapper, if just the two of you decide to take a trip abroad. You can still keep your maiden name alive by using it as a middle name for your child. Bonus: Now you can get that "The Millers" doormat.

Con: Oh, the paperwork. 

Get ready to allocate some time (roughly 10-plus hours) for administrative duties. Once you decide to change your name, you'll need to update all of the important documents—social security card, tax forms, driver's license, credit cards, health insurance, passport, the list goes on—this means a lot of forms and lines. Consider outsourcing some of the work with the online name-change service,

Pro: You won't confuse the elders. 

Chances are, your Great Aunt and Nana are assuming that changing the name at marriage is a given. You won't have to have a conversation as to why you decided to keep your maiden name or risk receiving a slew of birthday and holiday cards addressed to some other Mrs.

Con: Business logistics can get tricky. 

Whether you're a freelance designer or own a namesake company, changing your name also changes the name of your business venture, which can be a headache when it comes to notifying your clients and colleagues.

Pro: You dislike your given name. 

Perhaps your name is 15 characters long or you're simply ready to move on with another chapter of your life. Taking a new name gives you a fresh start.

Con: Your lineage is very, very important to you. 

Turns out, you're a distant relative of some important Duke with ancestors who crossed the world before immigrating to the USofA through Ellis Island (at least, according to your genealogy investigations). You are proud of your roots and don't want the family name to end now.

Pro: You are in it together. 

Sharing the same name automatically makes you more trustworthy when you're doing something on behalf of your spouse, especially if it involves accessing paperwork. What's more, when everyone has the same last name you somehow feel more unified.

Con: Accessing files from the past. 

Once you change your name, it may be a hard to dig into old records, especially those that deal with finances and legal issues, without proper documentation. Make sure to tie all the loose ends before you officially take on a new name.


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