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How to Inherit Investment Accounts After a Parent's Death

Original post by Stephanie Ellen of Demand Media

Investment accounts include taxable and tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs, 401ks and Coverdells.

Inheriting a deceased parent's investment accounts is not automatic. If your parent died without designating a beneficiary, or if a will or probate becomes involved in the process, inheriting an investment account will depend primarily upon state law. However, if your parent designated you as a beneficiary for the account in case of death, the process to transfer the account is relatively simple as long as you can locate the account information.

Contents

Step 1

Gather the documents for any investment accounts your parent owned if you are the beneficiary for the accounts. These may include trade confirmations, receipts from brokerage firms or statements from investment accounts. Some of these documents may be electronic, so check your parent's online investment and banking sites.

Step 2

Create a list of investment accounts your parent owned, based on the documentation you gathered. Include account numbers and contact information for the investment firms.

Step 3

Contact the investment firm for each account and request a freeze on it. If you are an authorized account holder, many companies will freeze an account based on a phone call; A beneficiary is not an authorized account holder unless your parent added you as an authorized user on the account. You may be asked to provide additional proof, like a death certificate. Ask the investment firm for the documentation you need to transfer the investments. Check with each investment firm to ensure that you have all of your parent's account information.

Step 4

Fill out the required forms and mail to the investment firm. How long it takes to transfer the investments will depend upon the individual company. However, you should be prepared to wait a considerable amount of time for the transfer to occur.

Step 5

If you were not a designated beneficiary of specific accounts, check your parent's will to see if or how investments are mentioned. Inheritance from a will is not automatic for investment accounts. Check your state's laws to determine the steps you must take to register the will with your local government. If there is no will, the estate and the accounts will enter probate, in which case state law will determine who gets the investment accounts. Contact a lawyer if probate is involved in the transfer. Probate law can be especially complex and the laws vary from state to state.


                   

Things Needed

  • Documentation for parent's investment accounts

Resources

References

About the Author

Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.

Photo Credits

  • Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images


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