How to Make a Name Change on Inherited Stock

If you are joint owner on an account held jointly with right of survivorship, you become the legal owner on the date of death of the other joint owner. You’ll want to notify the brokerage firm or other financial institution where the account is located, but no name change is necessary. In other situations, ownership for the stock you inherited must be legally transferred to your name. You can to do this yourself when you inherit stock that does not have to go through probate. If stock must be probated, you can transfer ownership and make the name change only if you are the executor of the estate.

Step 1

Contact the brokerage firm or other financial institution if the stock is held in an account for which you are the named beneficiary. Furnish the broker with a copy of the death certificate and proof of your identity. The broker will transfer ownership and put the assets in the account in your name.

Step 2

Obtain a letter authorizing you to act on the deceased person’s behalf from the probate court if you are named executor or administrator of an estate. The probate court issues this authorization after reviewing the will and other documents and determining who inherits the stock. Stock must go through probate when it is held as paper stock certificates or in an account with the transfer agent that does not have a named beneficiary. A transfer agent is a firm that handles securities transactions for the company that issued the shares.

Step 3

Contact the transfer agent for the company. Contact information is usually available on the company’s investor relations website. If the information is not available online, contact the company’s department of shareholders’ services. Request a transfer of ownership form from the transfer agent.

Step 4

Complete the transfer of ownership form and take it to a bank, brokerage or other financial institution that can issue a Medallion Signature Guarantee. Take along your authorization letter as executor, the paper stock certificates, if there are any, and official ID, like a driver's license. Medallion Signature Guarantees are required instead of a notary’s seal to verify your identity and signature on the transfer of ownership form. Transfer agents will not accept a notary’s seal unless the number of shares is small.

Step 5

Send the transfer of ownership form, paper stock certificates, the Medallion Signature Guarantee and your authorization letter from the probate court to the transfer agent via certified mail. Include a copy of the will or a statement from the probate court that identifies the person who is entitled to receive the shares. The transfer agent will make the legal ownership change and name change.