MIAMI (CBS4) – A generation ago few couples wrestled with the decision, but today’s women have an important choice to make when they get married: keep their maiden name or take their husbands.

It’s a choice that could mean money in the bank.

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When Cheryl Fenton walked down the aisle five years ago she had no doubts.

She chose the right man and the right name.

“In my heart Cheryl McPherson but on paper Cheryl Fenton it’s just that’s the way it’s got to be,” said Fenton.

A freelance writer for several national magazines Cheryl is known by her byline. Taking her husband’s name simply wasn’t an option.

“Changing my name because I got married would be just like changing a company that’s been in business for 15 years,” said Fenton.

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As it turns out Cheryl’s decision may translate into higher earnings.

A European study found that women who keep their maiden names make a half million dollars more a lifetime.

“They have a brand that will help them in their career. That is what translates to the higher salaries and higher earnings,” explained Career Consultant Elaine Varelas.

She said women who are well established in their career when they marry can risk a lot by changing their name.

Varelas believes before you say “I do” to the name change, make sure you get the word out to people who need to know.

“If you are going to change your name, you need to do a great job of getting that message across that everyone you ever knew knows you’ve changed your name you’re easily accessible,” recommended Varelas.

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A study done here in the United States found women keeping their surnames jumped from about 4% in 1975 to around 20% today.