How to Transfer Stocks When Someone Dies

by Alia Nikolakopulos, studioD

Most states have adopted legislation that requires the owner of stock to name a beneficiary to receive the shares when the owner dies. The transfer on death (TOD) registration allows beneficiaries to receive the stock without going through probate. Transfer agents are assigned to each company that issues stock in the market. The purpose of the transfer agent is to gather all beneficiary information and ensure the deceased’s stock is transferred to the appropriate party.

Obtain copies of the death certificate for the deceased person.

Contact the transfer agent for the company that issued the stock. Use an Internet site such as to locate the transfer agent, or contact the deceased’s broker and ask for the transfer agent’s contact information.

Inform the transfer agent that you are the beneficiary of a deceased person’s stock shares. Request a re-registration form. The transfer agent will send you a form to complete that re-registers the stock in your name. The transfer agent also informs you of other documents that are necessary to complete the transfer, such as Form W-9 (tax certification form) and an inheritance tax waiver form.

Complete all forms and send them to the transfer agent. The transfer agent processes your information and facilitates all stock ownership changes.


About the Author

With a background in taxation and financial consulting, Alia Nikolakopulos has over a decade of experience resolving tax and finance issues. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent and has been a writer for these topics since 2010. Nikolakopulos is pursuing Bachelor of Science in accounting at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.