When someone dies, we often think about the house, the car and even the debt that's left behind for our loved ones. But what the stocks we invest in? How do we pass along our investments to our children or other family members when we pass?
It's obvious that when you die, all your property will be divided among your family and friends, including your financial portfolio. However, stocks can be physically passed from one party to another without registering the transfer with relevant parties, such as a personal broker, in some states.
In California, unless you make arrangements before death, your estate may go through probate court - a court responsible for examining a person's will or documents and determining how the estate should be divided. The document should guide the court how your stock and finances should be divided.
Your beneficiaries may not have to go to probate court to obtain your stocks, if your estate is worth $150,000 or less. There is a simplified process where beneficiaries can transfer the property into their name. If your estate is worth more than $150,000, then probate court is very likely.
Probate court can be a grueling process, so avoid putting your loved ones through the process by establishing your plans early and understanding the court process.