Inheriting a Brokerage Account

In his recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled: Brokerage Accounts: What to Do When You Inherit One, Matthias Rieker outlines the best way for individuals who receive a brokerage account from a deceased relative or friend to access the account.

Because brokerage firms must follow specific legal guidelines regarding who can get access to accounts, the responses by the firms are often slow. Some steps to consider which could help avoid delays are as follows:

• Investors should keep information about their beneficiaries current so they are the same as listed in their wills. Information filed with the brokerage firm prevails over designations in a will.

• Investors should consider the benefits of putting a brokerage account in a revocable living trust. Trustees can immediately access brokerage accounts titled in the trust after the grantor’s death, and the Probate process with the courts is avoided.

• Beneficiaries or executors should get the Federal Tax Identification Number for the estate as the decedent’s Social Security number is invalid after death and brokerage firms will not distribute without an identification number to assign to the account.

Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.