Stock you received as a gift is yours, just as if you had bought it. You have every right to sell the stock, although various rules may apply to how you claim any gains or losses you may incur. Just as with gifts of cash, the giver of the gift assumes any gift taxes if the amount of the stock is greater than the gift tax exemption in the year it was given. You can follow a number of methods to sell your newly gained stock shares.
Get the Facts
You'll need to verify a few facts before you sell the stock to know how much you can get for each share. Ideally, you should receive documentation of the stock's history when you receive the stock. If not, ask the donor how much the stock was worth just before you received it and how much was paid initially for each share. If the donor gives you stock that currently sells for less than it cost, you cannot claim the loss on your own taxes unless the price falls after it was transferred to you. Gains, on the other hand, must be reported on your taxes. You'll need to know the current value of the stock, which you can find by checking with current stock listings. With this information, you then can determine your basis in the stock, or how much it is worth to you.
If you are not already set up with a brokerage account, you can open one online through a discount broker or see a full-service broker to get you started. With an open brokerage account, you can buy and sell stocks. Bring the stock certificates to your broker, who will then assume management of them. Brokers are licensed to hold stocks for clients. When you use an online discount broker, you may have to mail the certificates to the company. Use certified or registered mail to complete the transfer. The shares will show up in your online brokerage account once the stocks are verified. You may be required to open a deposit account with the brokerage to pay transaction fees for every sale that takes place. At the same time, you'll be set up for future trading. The money from the sale of the stock returns to your brokerage account.
Use the company that issued the stock to cash it in. Call the investor relations department of the company that issued the stock to find out who their agent is that's handling the stock. Contact the agent to obtain the necessary paperwork to sell the stock back to the original issuer. You'll most likely receive forms to fill out that require your signature, which you return to the agent with the stock certificates. Make sure to mail the certificates through registered or certified mail.
You banker most likely has access to stock agents that can handle the transfer of your stock. Talk to your bank representative about taking care of the sale of your stocks. You most likely will be charged fees for the services of your banker and the stockbroker. Many financial advisors or insurance agents carry broker licenses as well and can arrange the sale for you.
Sell a share of stock personally to a friend or family member by contacting the transfer agent that usually is listed on the actual stock certificate. You transfer the sale by signing the back of the certificate and sending it to the transfer agent, who then re-issues the stock to the new owner. Make sure to save receipts and paperwork to verify your sale, the amount you received for the stocks, the market value at the time of the sale and any costs associated with the sale. You'll need them for filing your taxes if you earned any dividends off the sale or the value increased while they were in your possession.