Ask Kim


Who Gets Mom and Dad's Stock?

Kimberly Lankford

If parents don't designate beneficiaries for their investments, their wills or the state will determine who inherits the assets.



If there are no beneficiaries on stocks, who gets them when both parents die?

If the stocks weren't held jointly and didn't have a transfer-on-death beneficiary designation, then the parents' wills are going to determine who inherits the stock.

But if your parents didn't have wills, the state intestacy laws control who inherits the money. In most states, the children will generally inherit stock and other assets equally after both of their parents die, assuming their parents didn't remarry.

But the process gets trickier if any of the children have died or if one of the parents has remarried. And the rules can vary significantly by state.

Let's assume that a parent had three children in his first marriage, remarried and had no more children, and then died with a $300,000 estate. In Minnesota, for example, the new spouse would receive $225,000 and each of the children would receive $25,000. But in California, the new spouse would receive $100,000 and each of the children would get $66,666.67.

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To run the numbers for your situation, go to MyStateWill.com, which has an intestacy calculator for each state.

Make sure you write a will and keep beneficiary designations up to date so you can control where your money goes. For more information about writing a will and other estate planning moves, see Keep Your Estate Planning Out of the Dog House.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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