How to Name a Beneficiary on Stocks

Taking steps to keep your assets out of probate after death is almost as powerful an act of love as leaving property to your heirs. The probate process can be time-consuming and costly. One way to ensure stock or mutual fund investments avoid probate and go directly to the individual of your choice is to designate a beneficiary by submitting a transfer-on-death form to your brokerage.

Step 1

Contact your brokerage to request a transfer-on-death beneficiary designation form. You might be able to download the form from the brokerage's website.

Step 2

Fill out the form. A TOD form requires your name and brokerage account number, as well as your Social Security number. You also need to include the name, contact information and relationship to you, as well as Social Security numbers, of named beneficiaries. Provide in percentage figures what share of your stock or mutual fund account should go to each beneficiary.

Step 3

Sign the form in front of a notary. You can find a notary at a bank, brokerage or even private mailbox facility.

Step 4

Submit the form to your brokerage. Going forward, your stock or mutual fund account will include both your name and the name of the TOD beneficiary, for example, John Smith, TOD Jennifer Smith.