From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My grandmother died in Chester County without any real assets, except for a small bank account and some solely owned stock. Her will says her assets are to pay her last bills and anything left is divided among the grandchildren. We’re confused as to how to sell the stock. Do we have to sell it through Computershare or can we sell it through any brokerage?
During her lifetime, the stock and bank account could only be accessed or liquidated by your grandmother. Now that she is dead, the accounts will sit until an authorized person contacts the bank and brokerage. Since your grandmother died with a will, it likely names an executor. That person needs to take the will to the Chester County Register of Wills along with the death certificate, legal identification and a checkbook. The Register will examine the will and death certificate and verify they are authentic and properly executed. The named executor will also have to prove they are the person named with a valid ID.
Once confirmed, and after you have paid a fee (with the checkbook/or a credit card) the Register will take the Will and exchange it for paperwork that authorizes the executor to act for the Estate. That paperwork goes to the bank and the brokerage house. They, in turn, will now liquidate the stock if the executor makes that request. There is a lot of responsibility in being an executor, including filing the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return and paying creditors. You would be well advised to retain an experienced Probate Attorney to help you. Remember, the executor is personally responsible for money not applied correctly, so don’t pay any bills or distribute any assets until you know exactly what you are doing.
If you have questions about Probate in Chester County, Pennsylvania, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.