Let’s be honest: While bank breaches happen, banks are — mostly — good at protecting your money.
One way they protect you is by using various verification systems, including matching names to accounts. At most banks, if your ID doesn’t match the data in the computer, you’re not getting in.
Usually, that’s good! But what if you’ve recently gotten married, divorced or just decided that “Penguin” makes a better last name?
That’s where knowing how to change a name on a bank account comes in handy.
Why you need to change your name on a bank account
While situations that you need to change your name with your bank are limited, they’re also not uncommon. We’ll see why below.
The biggest reason for changing your name at your bank is marriage. When two people marry, it’s common for one spouse to take the other’s last name. A couple may also hyphenate their names or come up with a new name completely. How romantic!
Conversely, you may require a name change if you get a divorce or revert back to your previous last name.
Name changes also occur for legal reasons. Sometimes, people just…change their name. It happens. Others may undergo adult adoptions, such as when a stepparent adopts their 18-year-old stepchild, which result in name changes.
Whatever the specific reason, bank account name changes are actually pretty common.
Remove or add an authorized user
This is less a name change and more a name addition, but it’s worth mentioning. When you add or remove an authorized user from your bank account, you’ll need to change the naming permissions on your account.
Change the personal information of an authorized user
Sometimes, an authorized user is the one to change their name for any of the reasons listed above. When that happens, you’ll have to go through the name change process for your bank account, the same as usual.
Fix incorrect information
Almost everyone has been there. You sign up for a new service, get a bill or open a new bank account, and your name is spelled wrong.
Unfortunately, changing your name at your bank when it’s entered wrong to start with can be a pain. But, especially when finances are involved, it’s an important pain.
How to change your name on bank accounts
Each bank sets its own policies for changing your name. But the overall process is usually similar. Here’s what to do.
Prepare your documents
The first step is to gather your important documents that prove your name change — though what those are varies.
For instance, you may need:
· Your marriage certified (for newlyweds)
· Divorce-related documents (for divorcees)
· Court-issued name change documents (for adoptions or other name changes)
· Your birth certificate (may be used to prove your original name)
· Government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport (almost always)
Generally, it’s wise to ensure you have your birth certificate and updated government-issued ID on hand for all bank account name changes. Other necessary documents will differ by situation and bank. If you’re not sure what you need, you can call your bank to inquire about your specific circumstances.
Contact your bank
Many banks require you to complete the name change process in person. Some allow walk-ins, while others require appointments.
Many modern banks — particularly online banks — let you submit copies of your documents by mail or fax. Online uploads are also permissible in some cases.
A handful of banks offer phone-based name change support. But they’ll probably require further documentation later, so keep paper copies handy!
After you change your name at your bank, it’s wise to follow up in one to two weeks to ensure the process went smoothly — especially if the problem was an incorrect name in the first place! You can log in online, call or visit your branch to double-check the accuracy of your new information.
What to know about changing your name
Changing your name is a pretty big deal, at least on paper — and it doesn’t just impact your bank accounts. Before you get that far, you’ll want to make sure your legal and government documents are in order.
To start, submit your name change to the Social Security Administration. From there, you’ll want to submit paperwork to the department of motor vehicles (DMV). Updating your paperwork at these agencies makes it easier to prove your new identity.
Then, when you change your name in other locations, make sure that it’s consistently correct across all your documents. That includes your bank accounts and your various bills, mortgage or renter’s agreement and your passport.
The sooner you complete the process (and correctly), the less trouble you’ll have proving you’re you later.
Bank account name changes don’t have to be a hassle
Changing your name on your bank account can seem like a pain, but it’s just part of altering your legal identity. If you have the proper financial documents in order and know what to expect going in, the process can be quite smooth.
Is it easy to change your name on a bank account?
The process for changing your name on a bank account is fairly easy, though it can take some time. Be sure to update all your personal identifying documents such as your driver’s license and Social Security card before trying.
Will a bank accept a check with a misspelled name?
That’s a bit of a tricky question, but if the misspelling is minor and/or they know you, then yes. To make sure it goes through, endorse the check with both the incorrect and correct spelling so the bank can compare signatures. You may also have to provide extra identification or jump through other hoops.
Can a bank account have two names?
Yes, bank accounts — specifically, joint accounts — can have two names.