• Person was named "A" prior to year 2000.

  • The name was legally changed from "A" to "B" in 2000.

When creating a legal document, is there a standard of how that person will be called when specifically describing past events before 2000? For example,

In the summer of 1998, A (or B?) did XYZ.

assuming that the lawyer composing the document doesn't do the smart thing and say "Person 'B', formerly known as 'A' before 2000, and hereafter called "Person" in this document" which avoids the issue in the first place.

  • 1
    Are you asking whether using the "wrong" name would render a legal document invalid? I think the answer will generally be "no."
    – phoog
    Jan 18, 2017 at 10:22
  • @phoog - I'm asking whether there's an established standard (whether for the reason you state, or any other reason).
    – user0306
    Jan 18, 2017 at 12:34

2 Answers 2


Best practice would, as you suggested, be something such as "Person 'B', formerly known as 'A' before 2000..." but I don't believe that there is any formal standard for this situation. If the document othewise uses the name 'B', it would be unusual to introduce the prior name 'A' without explanation. If there is not thought to be any significant chance of confusion or mistake, such a document might use 'B' throughout.

  • It would certainly be burdensome to read a document wherein every reference to events before the name change mentioned "B, then known as A." I presume it would also be unnecessary to write the document that way.
    – phoog
    Jan 12, 2019 at 21:40

It depends on the jurisdiction and what kind of legal document it is. It would be best to investigate whether a jurisdiction has any special procedures for certain kinds of documents.

For example, this page from the New York Department of Motor Vehicles explains what do do if a car owner changes his/her name.

Another example is this Vermont law which allows a property owner whose name has changed to record the change in the town records, after which the new name could be used in legal documents related to the property (presumably the new legal documents would call out the recorded name change).

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