In the age of electronic trading, holding an actual paper stock certificate is becoming less and less common. You may not even run across a stock certificate in your life, unless you inherit some that were tucked away in your grandfather's safe. If you do find yourself with some stock certificates you need to deposit into a brokerage account, the process is straightforward. If you are familiar with depositing checks into a bank account, you should have no problem getting your stock certificates into your brokerage account. The process only becomes complicated if the certificates are not in your name.
Match the name on your stock certificate with the name on your brokerage account. If the names match, the process is simple. If the names don't match, you'll need a letter of authorization transferring the certificate into your own name.
Get additional documentation if you inherit the certificates. As an heir to certificates, you'll also need a death certificate and written authorization from a duly-appointed representative, such as an estate executor, indicating you are entitled to the shares.
Complete and sign the back of the certificate. Much like endorsing a check, signing a stock certificate makes it valid for transfer. You'll also have to appoint your financial institution as your agent or attorney to receive the stock on your behalf.
Write your account number or social security number on the certificate. This will help ensure that your certificate finds its way into the right account, particularly if you have a common name.
Write down all the relevant information about your certificate. In case it becomes lost or damaged, this information will be critical in protecting your rights. Note the stock name, number of shares, the certificate issue date, and the number on the certificate. Taking a photo is another good way to document this information.
Send your certificate by overnight mail, or deposit it in person. If you mail the certificate, you may want to insure it as well. If you deposit it in person, ask for a receipt.
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