Can I have multiple transfer-on-death beneficiaries for my stock or mutual funds?

Creating an estate plan designed to help your loved ones avoid probate administration upon your death is an important goal for many people. This plan may need to be updated when new assets are acquired. This includes ownership in stocks or mutual funds. Fortunately, many stocks and mutual funds can take advantage of transfer-on-death registration under the Uniform Transfer-On-Death Securities Registration Act. This right may even apply when you want to name multiple beneficiaries rather than just one.

4 Tips for Leaving Stock or Mutual Funds to Multiple Beneficiaries

Changing ownership of your stock or mutual fund accounts to beneficiary form is a wise idea because the asset will transfer automatically to your beneficiary upon your death. If you wish to name multiple beneficiaries, consider the following:

  1. Name all of the intended beneficiaries on the form provided by the broker or transfer agent for the stock, or provide the names in a letter if instructed to do so as part of the change of ownership process.
  2. Decide if you want to leave the beneficiaries equal or unequal shares in the asset. If you do not specify one way or the other, the beneficiaries will each acquire an equal share after you die.
  3. Make your determination in advance. Some stockbrokers or transfer agents may have a policy that does not allow for unequal ownership, however, so it’s important to make this determination in advance. If you do not want the two beneficiaries to receive equal shares, you may need to consider different forms of ownership.
  4. Consider if naming multiple beneficiaries is the best option. If the securities are not easily divisible, such as with a single bond and three intended beneficiaries, this may not be the best option for this particular asset.

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