The loss of a spouse due to death or divorce can be a very traumatic time. A woman who finds herself widowed or divorced is often faced with many challenges, not the least of which are financial. However, one matter which should not overwhelm her is changing her bank and other accounts back to her maiden name.
Obtain a certified copy of your divorce decree from the clerk's office in the court where your divorce was finalized. If your husband passed away, the local office of state vital statistics can provide a certified death certificate.
Determine if you need to file for a name change with the court.
If you are divorced, read through the final divorce decree from the court. If it states that your maiden name is restored, then proceed to the next step. If not, you may need to apply for a name change with the court depending on the state laws where you live. If the name change is not in the divorce decree, consult with a local family law attorney concerning the application for name change. Generally reversion to a maiden name is a simple matter done by the local court.
If you are a widow, you should likewise consult with a family law attorney, as some states allow an automatic reversion to your maiden name upon the death of your spouse, while other states require you to submit a petition for a name change. Again, the reversion to a maiden name is usually a simple matter for a court.
Take your certified divorce decree evidencing the reversion of your name or a certified copy of your name change to the local office of the Social Security Administration and apply for re-issuance of your Social Security Card in your maiden name. Going to the SSA first will make the subsequent processes much easier as your Social Security Number is often used as a form of your "national" identification.
Bring your new Social Security Card and certified court paperwork to your local Department of Motor Vehicles and update your drivers license. If you have a passport, you should also update your name with the U.S. State Department. These documents provide you with official photo identifications which you will need at the bank.
Finally, bring your court paperwork, Social Security Card, and new photo ID to the bank along with your most current bank account information containing your married name (statement, ATM card, checks). Upon presentation of all of your documentation, your bank representative can generally change the name on the account back to your maiden name without any problems.
You can also present this documentation to update any other accounts including credit cards, membership cards, and so on.
Some banks will not change names on an account. As such you may need to close your old account and open a new account in your maiden name. In either case, you will need to present all of the documentation mentioned to the bank officer.