Stocks certainly qualify as important asset. Investments of this nature are also something that can be passed along to someone special in your life when you pass on if you prefer to take this step. Fortunately, this is something a probate attorney also familiar with other aspects of estate management and planning can help you out with in terms of providing important guidance and advice. Below, we go over the ways you could go about leaving stocks to someone.
Talk to an Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer About a Will
One of the steps a probate lawyer also specializing in various aspects of estate planning can take for you with assets that involve stocks is to help you put together a will. On your end, you’ll need to gather all documents that pertain to the stocks you wish to leave to a family member or other loved one in your will, including any paper stock certificates you may have in your possession.
An estate planning attorney in Las Vegas will then ask you which beneficiaries you prefer to leave your stocks to in your will. With stocks, it’s often possible to divide these assets by specific number of stocks you own, by each individual company or issuing firm, or any other way you see fit. In order to do this, you’ll need to provide the basic details for each listed beneficiary. At the very least, this usually includes names along with addresses, phone numbers, and any other preferred contact methods.
Also, get into the habit of regularly reviewing your will with an attorney. Doing so gives you a chance to make any adjustments or changes you might want to or need to make. For instance, you may need to add newly acquired stocks to your list of assets if you also wish to pass these assets along in your will, or you might change your mind about who will get what stocks. A will isn’t set in stone, meaning changes can be made when you feel it’s appropriate to do so.
Discuss a Transfer on Death Registration With Your Broker
With this option, instead of working directly with an estate planning attorney in Las Vegas, you’ll contact your broker. You’ll receive a transfer on death, or TOD, form to register your account so the applicable stocks will transfer to the designated indicated upon your death. You may also need to have the form notarized, which is also common with wills when witnesses aren’t available.
If your stocks are in paper certificate form, you’ll need to contact the transfer agent responsible for managing the issuance of those stocks. The company that issued the stocks should be able to give you this information if you don’t have immediate access to it. Once you get a hold of the transfer agent, they can give you the appropriate forms. While it’s not necessary to do so, you may wish to let an estate attorney know about any transfer arrangements you made directly with a broker so this fact can be referenced in your will.
Explore Trust Options With an Attorney
For this option, it can be helpful to work with an estate planning or probate lawyer. What you’ll be doing here is using a trust to disperse your stocks to your preferred or designated beneficiaries. This can be done with an entirely new trust if you don’t already have one set up, or through an existing trust that includes your other assets. Because there are many options with trusts, an attorney can walk you through the possibilities so you can determine what’s best for your needs.
With stocks in paper form, the original certificate will need to be returned to the stock transfer agent. They will then exchange it for a new certificate so it can be funded in your preferred type of trust. In other words, it will be issued in the name of the trust. You’ll also need to obtain a Medallion Signature Guarantee on the stock transfer form.
It’s also typical to need to mail the original certificate via registered mail. In order to do this, the shares will need to be insured for 2 percent of their current fair market value. However, this step can be avoided if you deposit the certificates into a brokerage account.
Generally, with stocks or bonds you wish to hold in a trust, you’ll need a document referred to as a securities assignment. This document is sometimes referred to as a “stock power.” What this document does is ask the transfer agent for permission to transfer stocks – a.k.a. the “securities” – to a specific trust.
What Happens When It’s Time to Transfer Stocks to Beneficiaries?
What will happen when it’s time for your stocks to be passed along to your designated beneficiaries? With stocks given to someone via a will or trust, first know your beneficiaries will not be able to take immediate possession of your stocks. In fact, the stocks technically belong to your estate or to the trust until officially transferred. This is a process a probate attorney in Las Vegas can oversee when it’s time to sort through your other assets and pass them along to beneficiaries.
The individual you appoint as your estate’s personal representative or trustee will be officially be responsible for reissuing your stocks to your beneficiaries as specified. The brokerage firm holding the stocks will also need to be contacted to request a list of the stocks. The broker typically will need a copy of the will or trust as well as the order that appoints your preferred individual as the trustee or estate representative. A copy of the death certificate is usually required as well.
Each beneficiary will then be contacted by the trustee or estate representative. It’s also possible for a probate lawyer to lend a hand with the process of contacting beneficiaries to inform them that they’ll be receiving stocks. This can be helpful since an experienced attorney knows what specific information to gather from each beneficiary.
Lastly, transfer documents will be needed as well for each stock being reissued to specific beneficiaries. These documents will also need to be Medallion stamped by a financial institution. The purpose of this stamp is to ensure the authenticity of your signature on the transfer documents. The stock broker or brokerage firm will then receive these documents so the stocks can be appropriately, officially, and legally sent to the designated beneficiaries.