Deed Poll

Deed Poll

You may have heard the term deed poll but perhaps you are not exactly what it is or how it works. In essence, Deed Poll is a form of a contract and is a legal document, but it does differ from the average legal contract usually made between two parties because it only concerns an individual.

Once signed, the Deed Poll will bind the person who signed it to a certain course of action which is outlined within the accompanying Deed Poll document.

deed poll

Deed Poll documents can be used for a number of different situations which can relate to either a company or individual which results in a legal obligation to carry something out, they are generally restricted to officially recognising when someone changes their name.

Where it relates to a change of name, the person applying for the contract must sign the contract which includes three declarations. These declarations include:

  • Not using your former name
  • Using your new name at all times
  • Requiring people to address you by your new name and not by your old name

When a deed is created, it forms a written legal agreement once it has been signed and delivered to the parties involved. The term ‘Poll’ is an old English phrase which is used to describe legal documentation. In the early days, the edges of the document were polled or cut so that they were straight. This was carried out to ensure that deeds signed by an individual could be clearly distinguished from deeds signed by multiple people (an indenture). When an indenture was created, it was written twice on a single piece of parchment which was then torn and each half handed to those who had signed the agreement.

It was hoped that this prevented forgery because there would be only two pieces that would fit together.

The purpose of the Deed Poll

The main use for the deed poll is when you wish to change your name. If you do, then you must go through the legal process which will allow you to make the name change which can be applied to your credit and bank cards, driving licence, passport and medical records. To do so you must be able to provide documentary proof that your name has been changed. The Deed Poll document will be a formal statement that you can provide as documentary evidence to prove that you have changed your name.

A Deed Poll functions in a very similar way to how a marriage certificate works for a woman who wishes to take her husbands surname. When married, the wife will then write to everyone who holds records on her such as the bank, medical centre, work and other companies who may hold information on her to request that her surname is changed, enclosing her marriage certificate as proof. If you change your name, the process works in the same manner; you will have to write to companies, banks and your work enclosing a copy of the Deed Poll and request that your records are changed to reflect your new name which is shown on the Deed Poll document.

Once the names on the relevant documents have been changed, it is crucial that you keep the Deed Poll safe in the event that you need to provide proof of your identity at any time in the future such as when you apply for a passport or if you marry.

When you apply to have your name changed by Deed Poll you can change your first name, middle name and/or surname as well as remove names, rearrange your existing name or add names as required. Names can be changed at any time, provided that you are not doing so to avoid carrying out an obligation or you are defrauding others.

Who can apply for a Deed Poll?

There are several factors that determine whether you can apply for a Deed Poll to change your name including age, country of residence and nationality.

Age Requirements

To apply for a name change in the United Kingdom, you must be at least 16 years of age. If you wish to change the name of a child under the age of 16, the application must be made by someone with parental responsibility over the child or provided that those who hold parental responsibility consent to the name change.

Dual Nationality

If you notify Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) and you are British that you hold a passport for another country, the HMPO will require you to have your other passport changed to your new name before you complete a Deed Poll application. Individuals who wish to apply for British citizenship after they have changed their name will be issued a British passport and naturalisation certificate in their new name.

Undischarged Bankrupt

If you are an undischarged bankrupt, you can change your name by Deed Poll. If you are self employed and you wish to trade in your new name, you most notify anyone who you do business with, your name when you were made bankrupt. You are prohibited from trading in a different name without notifying your customers.

Criminal Record

A criminal record will not prevent you from changing your name by Deed Poll however, there are certain conditions attached:

– If you have any criminal convictions the police station dealing with the case must be notified of your name change

– If you are on probation, you must notify your probation officer

Detainees under the Mental Health Act

Although there isn’t any specific provision outlined in the Mental Health Act that states a detainee cannot change their name, any individual who applies for a Deed Poll must have the required mental capacity to do so. This means that they must be able to understand what they are doing and the consequences of changing their name. If they cannot, the Deed Poll can be void. Where a decision is being made about a detainee, the following will be taken into consideration in line with the Mental Capacity Act:

Presumption of capacity – Every adult has the right to make their own decisions and must be assumed to have the capacity to do so unless they have been proved differently

Individuals must be supported to make their own decisions and provided with all of the information that they need before they conclude that they do not have the capacity to make decisions for themselves

Individuals must be able to exercise the right to make what may seem to others to be unwise decisions

There are many reasons why an individual may wish to change their name, but it is a big decision and changing your name by Deed Poll requires careful consideration.

About the author:

This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.