Sometimes I’m asked this question by someone I’m helping with estate planning: What is my legal name?
The question is usually asked by someone who has, for generally non-legal reasons, used different names at different times in his or her life. Sometimes the question is asked because discrepancies have, perhaps accidentally, occurred in the way the person’s name is shown on various documents.
In future newsletters I’ll address the substance of how to handle differences and changes in your name for purposes of estate planning. First, however, I thought you might find it useful to know the basic process for legally changing your name.
This discussion only covers how to do a legal name change in Arizona, but other states probably have a similar process.
Arizona law says that if an Arizona resident desires to change his or her name and adopt another name, the person may file an application in the superior court in the county of the person’s residence. The application must give the reasons for the change of name and the name the person wishes to adopt. The court must consider the following criteria in determining whether to enter judgment that the adopted name of the person be substituted for the original name, and the person must state under penalty of perjury:
- If the person has been convicted of a felony.
- If felony charges are pending in any jurisdiction against the person for any offense involving theft, forgery, fraud, or perjury, or any other offense involving false statements or misrepresentations about the person’s identity.
- If the person is knowingly changing the person’s name to that of another individual for the purpose of committing or furthering the commission of any offense involving theft, forgery, fraud, or perjury, or any other offense involving false statements.
- The person is making the application solely for the best interest of the person.
- The person acknowledges that the change of name will not release the person from any obligations incurred or harm any rights of property or actions in the original name.
If the court finds that the name change is appropriate after considering those criteria, the court may enter a judgment that says the adopted name of the person shall be substituted for the person’s original name. That makes the name change “legal.”
That’s about all there is to it. I think it’s a process that most people handle themselves, without being represented by an attorney. If you want to read the actual law, the Arizona statute is section 12-601 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
In the future I will discuss how to deal with name differences and changes when you are doing estate planning. It usually isn’t all that complicated, but it does need to be done
Keeping Copies of Filed
Tax Returns For Seven Years
Is Still a Good Idea
In a recent bulletin (IR-2016-162, Dec. 6, 2016) titled “Tax Records – What to Keep,” the IRS says it recommends that you keep copies of tax returns and supporting documents for at least three years. But the very next sentence in the bulletin says “some documents” should be kept for up to seven years in case you need to file an amended tax return or if questions arise. It also says that you should keep records relating to real estate for up to seven years after selling the property.
In other words, it sounds like the seven year rule of thumb for keeping tax records is still the way to go.
Nathan B. Hannah is a Shareholder in the Tucson office, and practices in the areas of estate planning and administration, real estate, and commercial transactions. He is also a noted blogger, and you can find more of his articles on his private blog,
Contact Attorney Hannah: firstname.lastname@example.org or 520/ 322-5000
This communication is designed to bring legal developments of interest to the attention of our clients and others. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific legal advice in a particular matter. For further information on any of the subjects discussed, or for legal advice in connection with any particular matter, please contact us.