Stock certificates seem like vestiges of a past in which putting legal obligations in writing meant putting them on paper. In the 21st century, the electronic age, they have become practically obsolete, reduced nearly to the status of novelty. In many cases, to acquire a stock certificate, you must order it specially and pay a fee. However, if you do happen to own a paper stock certificate, passed on to you perhaps from an elderly relative, you can duly sign it over to a brokerage.
Check the spelling of your name on the certificate. Just as with a check, you must endorse a stock certificate using a spelling identical to what appears on the front.
Sign your name on the back of the certificate. There should be a space clearly marked for endorsement.
Write the name of the brokerage on the back of the certificate. This appoints the brokerage as your attorney, which means only the brokerage can negotiate the certificate.
- Once the certificate is properly endorsed, you can safely mail it.
- If the back of your stock certificate includes fields (spaces) for data other than your signature and the name of the brokerage, in most cases you should leave those other spaces blank.
- Some brokerages want you to write the number of your brokerage account on the front of the certificate.
- If you make a mistake and endorse with a name that is spelled differently from what is on the front of the certificate, all is not lost. You may be able to file paperwork that proves you are the legal owner.
D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.