Can I name a beneficiary to receive my shares of stock and avoid the need for probate administration?

For many people, avoiding probate administration is an important consideration when creating an estate plan. There are various mechanisms that can be utilized to avoid probate. For example, some types of assets allow you to name an individual up front to receive the asset when you die. This allows for a smooth and quick transfer of ownership. One such type of asset is shares of stock. Under the Uniform Transfer on Death Securities Registration Act, brokerages are allowed to offer transfer on death registration.

Know Whether You Can Take Advantage of Transfer on Death Registration of Stock

If any item on the list below is located in a state that has adopted the Act, and if the brokerage offers transfer on death registrations, you can take advantage of the provisions of the Act:

  1. Your legal residence
  2. The office making the registration
  3. The stockbroker’s principal office
  4. The incorporation of the issuer of the stock or the stockbroker
  5. The office of the transfer agent

Currently, every state except for Texas and Louisiana allows for transfer on death registrations for stocks.

Some clients have concerns about setting up transfer on death registrations because they worry about giving up control or ownership over their assets. It is important to note that a transfer on death beneficiary has no rights to the shares of stock while you are living. Until you die, you can still sell or give away the stock at any time. In addition, you are free to name a different beneficiary at any time. Once you die, the beneficiary named can claim the stock with ease.