Stocks give shareholders percentage of ownership in a corporation. Stock shares may be owned individually, jointly or by a corporation. When a shareholder dies without a trust, stocks owned individually or jointly will be placed in the probate estate and transferred when the probate estate is cleared out. How stocks are titled and owned affect transferring upon probate.
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Things you need
- Death certificate
- Probate court order
- Stock certificate (if applicable)
Contact the brokerage firm or transfer agent of the stock by phone, in person or via mail. A brokerage firm will hold most stocks in street name--street name being the brokerage firm buys the stocks and appropriates it to the client account with no physical stock certificate issued. A transfer agent, listed on the stock certificate, moves physical certificates maintained by the owner.
Explain to the representative that you are executing an estate based on probate court orders and ask for transfer paperwork. Verify how the shares are owned—individual shares may be transferred in their entirety, while joint shares may be "joint with rights of survivorship" or "tenants in common." Rights of survivorship means the assets go to the joint account owner; tenants in common divide the shares among joint owners with only the deceased portion transfers to his estate.
Determine what account the stocks will transfer to. Beneficiaries may already have a brokerage account they can designate to receive the stock. If there is no account established, the beneficiary should open an account at a brokerage firm and provide you with the account information.
Fill out the form for the transfer and have it medallion guaranteed—medallion stamps are a type of signature witness service provided by banks or brokerage houses. Provide the bank or brokerage house with a copy of the court order, the death certificate and account number with the signed form. There will be one account transfer form for each beneficiary designating the number of shares to be transferred into each respective account based on the probate court order.
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