A person can change their name for any reason. The only condition for a name change is that the name change is not for any illegal or fraudulent purpose and the new name does not interfere with the rights of other. For example, you cannot change your name to that of a celebrity in order to take advantage of the celebrity’s name.
A name change can be made either informally by usage or formally by going to court and filing a petition.
You may change your name by simply picking a new name and then using it in your daily life. You can just start using your new name with friends, family, and any businesses with which you have contact. You will also need to change your records with various government agencies.
It is important to let friends, family, and your common contacts know that your name has changed. Generally, it is easiest to first change your name with the post office, then with Social Security Administration, and then on your driver's license.
Be aware that changing your name by usage will not be accepted by all organizations, particularly financial institutions. You may need to change your name by filing a petition with a court.
Going to Court and Filing a Petition
You can change your name through a legal proceeding through the courts. A legal proceeding has the advantages of being speedy, definite and a matter of record. To legally change your name, you must file a Petition for Change of Name in the Circuit Court of the county where you live. A notice of the request must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in that county, unless the Court grants a waiver of publication. You will need to check with the Clerk of Court regarding publication of the Notice. In some jurisdictions, publication arrangements are the responsibility of the party asking for publication. In other jurisdictions, the Clerk of Court will arrange to have the Notice published. After the notice has been published, other persons are given the opportunity to object. If someone objects, that person must file an objection and send a copy of the objection to you. You will have 15 days to respond to the objection by filing a written response with the Court.
If no one objects, and everything is done properly, then the judge may sign the Order for Name Change. A certified copy of the Order will be mailed to you. You will use the certified copy of the Order for Name Change to change your name with the Social Security Administration, on your driver's license, and with with the Bureau of Vital Statistics, creditors, etc.
See the Maryland Judiciary's Department of Family Administration for forms and instructions.
Read the law: Md. Rule 15-901
Note for anyone convicted of a sex offense: Maryland requires registered sex offenders whose name has been changed by order of the court to send a written notice of the change to every local law enforcement unit within three days after the order is entered. You will also be asked about this issue on the name change petition.