Week 167 – What other people need to update when you change your name

Being trans is rarely easy and in the hustle and bustle of my name change updates last year I overlooked an important type of name change: things that only other people, usually family, can update. This discovery came on the heels of the death of my mother earlier this month and it’s already causing me some friction.

While my mom mentioned we should update the bank account I’m listed on as the beneficiary, as I’m the executor of her estate, we never did. It turns out nothing connected to her estate was updated with my new name. This included the will and all of the financial-type accounts she had.

If you legally change your name as a part of your transition like I have, you’ll find there are many, many places to update. Some are easy, requiring just a phone call or web form update. Others are more complex, requiring a certified copy of the name change order from the court. Sometimes they even want a supporting affidavit and/or a third-party letter or two.

I’m finding that settling an estate is on the more complex and annoying end of things.

Most firms want to see a certified copy of my name change order. One bank is even insisting they need, “the original name change order,” and seems impervious to understanding a certified copy is equivalent because the original is on file at the court. (I’m still working my way up the management chain on that inanity.)

Then there’s the fun of getting outed over and over. My brother and I validated the will and the lawyer looked really confused trying to reconcile my old name with my new look. The phone calls where I’ve had to explain my name has changed remind me of when I was changing my own accounts.

It’s tedious, tiring, and sometimes demoralizing because my phone voice doesn’t always sound very feminine. As an example, I attended a meeting at a bank and was asked, “Was that your brother I talked to on the phone?” and having to say, no that was me, and getting the puzzled look from the banker.

Worst so far has been spreading the news to her friends. My mom had a very small group of friends she stayed in regular touch with and they all seemed to know my name had changed, but friends of hers from high school and college who knew she had two boys are a different matter. One lady seemed very confused when I said my mom had died and asked me if I was my mom’s granddaughter.

To save you some of the same heartburn, here’s a list of things that other people should update with your new name. The good news is that generally they can just update these without any documentation or involvement from you.

  • Will and estate planning documents
  • Beneficiary information for life insurance, brokerage accounts, etc.
  • Joint bank accounts and safety deposit boxes
  • Emergency contact information
  • Auto and health insurance (if you don’t pay the bills)
  • Friends of the family

I post I wrote a while back, Name change and gender marker change resources, is now updated with the list above. Let me know in the comments here or there if I’m missing anything and I’ll add it to the lists.

©Heather Coldstream


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About cistotrans

A Seattle-area trans woman seeking a happy spot to stay at along the path of transition.
This entry was posted in coming out, family, gender transition, LGBT, personal history, transgender, transition and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Week 167 – What other people need to update when you change your name

  1. Thank you Heather. I hadn’t thought about the things my mother has set aside. I will need to get with her and have her update all of that. The things we miss.

    Liked by 1 person

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