I am a videographer in San Diego, CA and I'm fairly new to working freelance. I've recently aquired a Fictitious Business Name (or DBA) under my first and middle name (my stage name when I was acting). Just to clarify, I go by my first and middle name almost exclusively now, but when signing contracts I still need to use my official first and last name, correct? If so, any suggestions on how I can be known as my first and middle name and be able to sign as such without having to legally change it. I believe my only choice might be to go ahead and legally change it (not too fond of my last name anyway), but any info would be great.
The standard way to identify yourself in an agreement would be along the line of "Melissa J. Smith, an individual doing business as Melissa Jolie". You normally would sign as "Melissa J. Smith", though it probably wouldn't be a major problem to sign as "Melissa Jolie" if you were identified as described above.
Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
So long as the parties signing can properly identify the person entering into the contract, the agreement is valid, regardless of whether you use your middle name or legal first and last name.
http://www.justanswer.com/intellectual-property-law/40o7u-use-legal-middle-name-legal-last-name-cont.html I am not a lawyer and my comment is not legal advice. I am simply posting my research here.
My answer is not legal advice... but may help you with your research.
I know some models who use a completely different name for their work (stage name, just like you). They file the fictitious name statement and open a business checking account with that name and their legal name. When checks come in, they come in to Fake Name (the dba) and endorse with a for deposit only stamp. When they write checks, they use their signature as placed on the signature card at the bank.
As a tiny company, "signing contracts" is practically a moot point. Who has enough money to sue over that? Any that matter will have enough personal data to find you -- or any in the professional community will take you on your reputation.