“Nomen est omen” is an ancient Roman proverb meaning “the name is a sign.” It captured the evergreen idea that we tend to gravitate towards a way of being that reflects our name.
But there is the name we are given and then there is what we make of it and of our lives. One way to claim this power is to, literally, change your name. In order to change your legal name in Minnesota, however, there are generally a few key requirements you must meet:
- Reside in the county where you are filing your application for name change;
- Be a Minnesota resident for at least 6 months;
- Have 2 witnesses who know you (they will attend your name-change hearing); and
- Not be seeking a new name with fraudulent intent.
Plus, there are other requirements depending on your circumstances. For example, for a minor child generally, both parents must be provided notice of the name change application. Also, for a minor child, the child’s legal guardian or next of kin must file the application. There are also additional requirements for those who have been convicted of a felony.
There are a few other things to know that will be helpful for anyone considering a name change. First, a name change is a free “perk” when you legally marry or divorce, so long as you have followed the proper procedures. Outside of those instances, a name change in Minnesota requires payment of a court filing fee with the application. As of February 2023, the base fee is $285. An indigent applicant, however, can seek a fee waiver from the court. A specific set of forms (including a sworn affidavit) is required for the fee to be waived. A fee waiver is also discretionary with the court—it is not automatic.
Next, a criminal background check is required. You will need to submit a criminal history check form and a fee to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for this. The court will review and consider the result of the criminal background check in determining whether to grant you the name change you are seeking.
Next, as mentioned above, there will be a hearing. In general, since the COVID-19 pandemic, name change hearings have been conducted virtually. The judge will swear in you and your witnesses, and take brief testimony on your application.
If the court grants the name change, congratulations! When the court’s order granting your name change is signed and filed, you may then move forward with changing your name with government agencies (e.g., Social Security, IRS, Register of Deeds in counties where you own real estate, the U.S. Department of State’s passport office, etc.), lenders and other entities you do business with, your kids’ schools, your medical providers, etc. It is your responsibility to take these follow-up steps after your name change is granted. The name change order issued by the court does not change your name with any of these entities.
In sum, there are several steps required for a legal name change. Typically, the process will take several weeks, sometimes months, to complete. However, if your name is limiting you or you are simply ready for a change, file your application. Please contact Streit Law LLC today for a free consultation or to retain Angela for your name change – visit www.streitlaw.net or call 651-237-3815.