By Jon Stevenson
Transferring ownership on stocks will require the following steps:
Contact the transfer agent that holds your stock. If they have a form for the transfer, request they send you one. If not, draft a letter including number of shares, current holder, account number, certificate number and any other relevant information.
Take the form or letter to your local bank or credit union and obtain a Medallion Signature Guarantee.
Send in the transfer request form or letter (along with your stock certificate if you have one) to your transfer agent.
So that's pretty easy right? Okay good, but let me for warn you about some potential speed bumps.
First, make sure the information you have on your stock is the most recent information. If you have stock in a company that has merged with another company your stock may exist under a different name or you may have a different number or type of stock. A good rule of thumb would be information no older than a year.
Another thing to look for is that you have the right account for the transfer agent. Your stock might be in an account with a broker, in which case it might have a broker's account number as well as a transfer agent's account number. You want to be sure you are filling out the form with the transfer agent's account number.
You will also want make sure you're getting the Medallion Signature Guarantee from an institution able to cover the entire value of your stock. This stamp is a way of reducing the liability for transfer agent and protecting shareholders from unauthorized transfers and possible losses. It is not the same as a Notary Public stamp.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize the importance of attention to detail in completing a transfer of stock ownership. Stocks are an asset vulnerable to fraud so the companies that handle these assets are especially vigilant about their requirements. If the letter or form is not completed to their standards you will be asked to fill out a new form and to obtain a new Medallion Signature Guarantee. It is possible for this process, which should take only 4-8 weeks, to be stretched out over a year or longer.
To avoid such a delay, my best advice would be to ask someone who is familiar with completing such transfers to look over your transfer request. While the above includes some good tips, there is no replacement for the experience of an elder law attorney to advise your through the process.