How to Transfer Stocks After a Death in California

By: Denise Sullivan

You must have a death certificate to transfer a decedent's stock in California.

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The process of transferring stock after a death in California depends on your relationship to the deceased and the location of the shares. Because California is a community property state, the surviving spouse inherits any remaining stock or other assets, even if the deceased did not have a will. Other family members only can request a transfer if they are listed as the executor of the will or designated as estate administrator by a probate court.

Step 1

Locate the brokerage account that holds the decedent's stock. If the decedent owned his shares as individual stock certificates and did not use a broker, you will have to open a new account in the name of the estate before you can execute a transfer. If you are not the surviving spouse, you must show proof that you are the executor of the decedent's will when opening this account.

Step 2

Complete the necessary forms to notify the broker of the account holder's death. You might be required to attach a copy of the death certificate. The broker might also require that you obtain a signature guarantee from a bank or have the forms notarized.

Step 3

Instruct the broker to transfer the decedent's stock into the account of your choice. If you opened a new account for the estate, you may transfer the stock to anyone you choose, unless a will or trust is involved. If the decedent had an existing brokerage account, you may only transfer stock to one of the beneficiaries previously listed on the account.


About the Author

Denise Sullivan has been writing professionally for more than five years after a long career in business. She has been published on Yahoo! Voices and other publications. Her areas of expertise are business, law, gaming, home renovations, gardening, sports and exercise.

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