Bucket List Last Name Change Before I Die
The Young Man
The first person we helped with a Bucket List LAST NAME CHANGE was 27 years old. All we knew to begin with was that he wanted to change his current last name to his Grandpa’s last name, and wished to honor his Italian roots.
We filed his Petition in the proper Superior Court and placed his required Advertising (see California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 1277a, paragraph 2). Then we all waited. The young man knew that he would have to go to court to get his Decree Changing Name, upon approval, at the end of the process.
At first he said he would be there. Later, he asked what would happen if he didn’t attend and we told him that was usually a problem for the court he was in. At that point, he didn’t tell us anything about why he might not go. As the Hearing day approached, he told us he had health problems and wasn’t going to go to his Hearing. He said he was “going to take his chances” with the judge.
The day of the Hearing came and went. No one called us or the young man. Keep in mind, to my knowledge, we’ve never had even one of our Petitioners rejected for a last name change, or any name change by any court. I called the courtroom clerk was told that his was the only Denial decision they had made that day and there were 2 reasons for denial:
1) The young man failed to provide the court with one of the required Name Change Petition Forms (Decree, NC-130), and
2) His background check showed a criminal record, including a current outstanding warrant for failing to appear in a Grand Theft Case in another California County.
I felt sick. The first reason was on us. It’s our job to supply all the right Forms, correctly completed. And, the second reason meant we were trying to help a criminal hide from his crimes. This was the opposite of the reputation we were looking to have.
I called the young man and told him the bad news. He was very upset and wanted to know how someone could have put that in his records. Protesting loudly, he said he didn’t do any such things and didn’t know anything about any Grand Theft situation. He pushed me to know if we were quitting him then or what? I told him we would help in any way we could, but we weren’t lawyers and couldn’t give him legal advice, etc.
Over the course of several phone calls between the young man and me, I agreed to do a little internet searching about the Grand Theft situation and to talk to the court clerks about the missing Form. It was in these phone calls that I learned that the young man had really serious health problems. He was on oxygen constantly and rarely left his apartment for any reason at all. Going the extra mile for this guy seemed like the right thing to do.
The “missing” Form problem cleared up easily. We had court-stamped copies of what I had filed at the court, and with a few calls and a fax from us, the court agreed that the Form wasn’t actually missing. That left just the Grand Theft Auto problem.
The judge had received a Confidential criminal history assessment from law enforcement, as is normal for Name Change Petitions in California. This one described a man, with the same name as our young man, who had indeed been charged with Grand Theft and had skipped bail besides. So, there was a $150,000 warrant outstanding against him.
I provided the young man with copies of data sheets I got from internet searching and contact information for the judge’s clerk. That offender, with the same name as our young man, was described as, among other things, weighing 150 lbs. Then the judge’s clerk told me the judge wanted to see a copy of the young man’s Driver’s License. That’s when the young man told me more of his health story.
He weighed 600 lbs!
The young man emailed me a copy of his current Driver’s License. There was no mistaking our young man for the 150 pound man. I got the Driver’s License to the court clerk, who showed it to the judge. The clerk called to tell me the judge signed the young man’s Decree Changing Name and asked me to give him her regards. We picked up 2 Certified Copies of his Decree for him from the court so he could show it to his grandfather…and everyone else he knew!
When I called him to be the first person to call him by his New Legal Name, that’s when he told me he was dying and he wanted to have this Last Name Change before he died. He was so happy…and proud. And, he lightly chastised me for not believing in him when all the criminal stuff first came up. I reminded him that we never stopped helping him…and he and I enjoyed the moment together.