If you don’t like your name, you an change it. There is a legal procedure you go through which varies from state to state. Maryland’s name change procedure is more complicated than many other states’, but it is not difficult and you can do it yourself, without a lawyer.

Can you choose any new name you want?

Almost, but there are some restrictions on what you can choose as your new name. Generally, these are the limits:

  • You cannot choose a name with fraudulent intent. That is, to do something illegal. For example, you cannot legally change your name to avoid paying debts, keep from getting sued, or get away with a crime.

  • You cannot interfere with the rights of others, which generally means adopting a famous person’s name in circumstances likely to create confusion.

  • You cannot use a name that would be intentionally confusing. This might be a number or punctuation-for example, “10,” “III,” or “?”. (I wonder how Prince got away with his symbol.)

  • You cannot choose a name that is a racial slur.

  • You cannot choose a name that could be considered a “fighting word,” which includes threatening or obscene words, or words likely to incite violence.

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**These questions and answers are designed to provide helpful information that can be read quickly. They are neither a full explanation of the subject nor legal advice. To learn more, and to receive legal advice on which you can rely, contact me or another lawyer.