What Happens After a Brokerage Account Holder Dies?
While the specific procedures regarding how brokerage account assets will be transferred or passed on to beneficiaries and heirs can vary between firms, many of them utilize specially trained staff members and resources in order to determine the proper course of action. It’s important to notify the firm of the account holder’s death as soon as possible in order to make sure no unnecessary complications come up. Most firms’ procedures involve some or all of the following items:
- A Court Letter of Appointment with a current date and an original or visible court seal naming the executor.
- A death certificate.
- Affidavit of domicile.
- A signed Letter of Authorization from the surviving tenant of a joint account in cases where the deceased’s assets are being transferred somewhere other than their account. The firm will also require a signed Letter of Authorization from the executor when there are no surviving tenants and the assets are being transferred somewhere other than the last decedent’s estate account.
- If applicable, a state tax inheritance waiver.
- ‘Stock power,’ a type of power of attorney that allows the ownership of stock to be transferred.
- Trustee certification showing the successor trustee for accounts held in trust.
The documents you will need may vary depending on the type of account or accounts the deceased held. Make sure you inform your firm about your specific situation so they can inform you of the specific documents they require. Take care to follow your firm’s instructions regarding documentation to prevent any from being rejected for avoidable reasons, such as signing them in an inappropriate capacity, completing them incorrectly, bringing outdated documents, or altering the information present on the document.
The estate or beneficiary will typically need to set up a new account once the firm has received and approved the required documents. Once this is complete, the securities registered under the deceased’s name can be transferred over. In many cases, you will not be able to buy, sell, or transfer the account to a separate firm until you have opened the new account and legal authority has been established.
As you prepare for this process, make sure to take the time to completely understand the assets you will be handling – that way, you will be better able to determine whether or not the investments are right for you, the risks associated with them, any restrictions about when you can sell your investments, and any other costs or fees associated with them.
Losing a loved one is a difficult experience, and you may find that people want to exploit your newly acquired assets. If you suspect that someone has taken advantage of or mishandled your investments, contact the investment fraud attorneys at Meyer Wilson today. We have successfully represented about 1,000 clients throughout the United States, and recovered over $350 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients in 2015 alone. Fill out our online form to tell us more about your situation.