Answers to Common Questions and Situations

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Deceased’s Name on the Death Certificate Does Not Match the Name on Older Records?

death certificate Having a name on the death certificate that does not match older records can pose a serious challenge for many things, including arranging for a military burial for the deceased soldier. How can you fix this situation?

The first thing to do is to find his driver’s license, passport, social security card, and any other government issued ID he had. If the name on those documents (especially the passport) matches the name on the death certificate, it is very likely that he had his name legally changed somewhere along the line. If the names do not match, then you will want to have the death certificate amended to correct his name and you can use the government issued ID as your proof. This will be done through either the Medical Examiner’s office or the Vital Records office, depending on what part of the process you are in.

If the name on the government ID matches the name on the death certificate, then you know that the deceased probably legally changed his name at some point. If the deceased had a place where he kept important papers, start by looking there for any kind of court document with the new name on it. If that does not work, then move on to the steps below.

If the deceased kept records for long periods of time, start going through them to look for the year when his name changed. If you can find the year, then look at the address where the deceased lived at the time. Call the local county courthouse for that address or look online to determine which court office processes name changes. That is where the record will be found.

If that does not yield any results, you may want to consider calling the Social Security Administration to determine whether a name change was ever filed with them. You can do the same with the IRS or by looking at the deceased’s tax records. You will need to open the deceased’s estate in probate court before either of those government agencies will speak with you about this, however. As a result, this option can take a month or longer.

If none of the above produces any results, then you have a much larger task on your hands. You will want to start by making a timeline of all the places where the deceased lived starting immediately after his military service ended. Then, starting at the first place he lived, find the local county court, determine which office handles name changes, and find out if that office has any records of a name change by the deceased. Go one by one through your timeline until you find the court or government office that handled the name change.

This can be a long an tedious process, but it may be the only way to uncover the document you need.

Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Our Georgia probate law firm provides legal advice to our clients after talking about the specific circumstances of the client’s situation. Our law firm cannot give you legal advice unless we understand your situation by talking with you. Please contact our law office to receive specific information about your situation.

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About the author

Erik J. Broel
Founder & ceo

Erik founded the firm in 2009. He sees it as his personal mission to demystify the process of handling an estate or trust, and to help people by making the complex estate process simple and accessible. He believes there is always a better way to do things, and loves finding new and innovative ways to deliver better, more effective service that solves the client’s key problem or issue, and improves the client’s life.

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