If I’m writing my own Will, must I use my full legal name?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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If I’m writing my own Will, must I use my full legal name?

I’m writing my own Will using a Will-making program. I’m not sure how much of my full name to include that will appear on all the generated documents. About 90% of the time in my life for my full name, I’ve just used my first name and surname, but some of my most official documents (birth certificate, passport) have 4 names – first name, 2 middle names and the surname. Using the 4 names seems cumbersome but if that’s the better way to go, I’ll do that.

Asked on October 21, 2015 under Estate Planning, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You have to start with your legal name.  Otherwise, there will potentially be confusion over who the will actually belongs to.  Because you have used several other names, you may want to incorporate all of the names in the initial line.  For example, "I John Doe do hereby.....   My legal name is John Henry Alexander Doe, III, but in my lifetime I have also used the following names:  _______.  My social security number is _____."  This makes it exactly clear to anyone reviewing the document for it's authenticty who the document is referring to.  A will is a great way to prevent disputes in the future-- but any ambiguities or unclear portions actually make way for more, not less, future disputes.  Future disputes also increase the risk that your final wishes may not be honored.  So... it is probably a bit cumerbersome to note all the names right not... but it will make everything much less cumbersome down the road.

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