Anonymous asked in Business & FinancePersonal Finance · 2 months ago

What can I do with the individual brokerage account of a deceased parent who gave me full access to the account?

My mother created an account with Etrade and verbally told me I was a joint account holder. Shortly thereafter, she got very sick and gave me PoA (Power of Attorney) and all her account information. I was preoccupied with taking care of her and did not log in to the Etrade account until after she passed away. 

I belatedly discovered that I was only the joint account holder of her Etrade savings account. She had an individual brokerage account with Etrade too, with no designated beneficiary.Her will listed me as her only Personal Representative and Trustee and her only descendant. She was unmarried and willed everything to me. I'm confused about if I can legally touch the brokerage account. On the one hand, she willed everything to me. But on the other hand, it's still under her name and PoA ended upon her death.

I heard that probate can be a long and expensive process. Can I legally claim these funds without going through probate? My husband proposed that I sell off the holdings in the Etrade brokerage account and transfer it into the Etrade savings account (which I'm joint owner on). However I'm unsure if that's legal.

3 Answers

  • Amy
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    The first step in the probate process is designating an executor. If her will named you as executor, the court will be able to make that official immediately. That gives you the legal right to access her accounts and distribute assets to her heir (yourself).

  • 2 months ago

    Well.... the first thing is to check her will and find out who the executor is... if you do anything with it and you aren't the exec, you have broken the law.  The 2nd thing is to let the executor run the estate through probate; if you do anything with it and she owes creditors, you have broken the law. 

    In other words, even though you have POA and she is dead, it isn't yours yet.

  • 2 months ago

    You didn't mention anything about the tax basis, but you need to know:  your tax basis for the investments are the date of your mom's death.  It may make sense to keep these investments separate because of that.

    If you are a beneficiary on the individual account, you can do whatever you want with the investment. 

    If there is a trust, then you can do whatever you want.

    If there is a will (or there is no will) you have to follow the probate laws in your state.

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