Areas of Practice:

Elder Law
Estate Planning
Wills and Trusts
Estate Administration
Trust Administration
Real Estate


When clients come into my office, I ask that they fill out an intake form.  The first question on that form asks for their legal name.  Although this appears to be an easy question, many clients are unsure about how to answer this question.  Many clients place their first, middle and last name as it appears on their driver’s license and/or their marriage certificate; others use a first name, middle initial and their last name; some women include their maiden name and still others fill out the form with a nick name.  What is your legal name?  Is it the name you are born with or the name you use every day? 

The “legal name” of an individual usually consists of a given name, usually assumed at birth and a surname deriving from the common name of your parents unless you become married when you may choose to use your spouse's surname. Under common law you may change your name through non-fraudulent use which is why women who marry do not have to petition a court to change their name to their spouse’s surname. Black's Law Dictionary states that your legal name consists of one Christian name and one surname and any insertion, omission or mistake in your middle name is immaterial.  Some people do not have a middle name, but if you do have a middle name it helps to further identify you, especially if your first and/or last name is common.  My office prefers to use the full name you are born with, unless you are a married woman and use your husband's surname.  We also list on your will any other names you use with a special focus on any names which are used on real property deeds, bank accounts and investments. 

It is important when drafting a will or a trust to list all the names that a person uses to title to their assets, so that the assets may be properly transferred at death.  Any name that a person uses, other than their given or married name, is called an alias or assumed name.  To be issued a Colorado driver’s license or identification card, you must prove your legal name by producing a birth certificate, marriage license, an affidavit or previous identification documents; you may not use an assumed name on a Colorado driver’s license. 

This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C.  This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney. Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships.  She can be contacted at:  Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO  80030; 303-657-0360; or visit her website at:


The Henry Law Office Building
3843 West 73rd Avenue
Westminster, Colorado 80030

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Ph: 303-657-0360
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