Who is entitled to Mom's stock after her and Dad's death?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Adultorphan asked...

Mom died over 25 years ago and she had ESPP stock in her name which could only be transferred to her spouse, nobody else. Dad never transferred the stock to his name, he just signed her name to the dividend checks. He died earlier this year. So, the stock was still in Mom's name when he died. Dad also remarried more than 20 years ago. Does the stock to go his second wife or does it distribute to Mom's estate, her children?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The answer, as you intuited, will depend on when or whether the stock was effectively transferred to your dad.

Companies have a fair amount of freedom to tailor their Employee Stock Purchase Plans, or ESSPs, as they see fit"”and even to change them over time. So it is tough to follow the line of ownership in your situation without eyeballing the actual document granting ownership and setting its conditions.

If you don't have these documents, ask for help from the company's benefits manager"”but be prepared to be persistent and patient, as you may need to do some succinct explaining and make repeated requests.

If you do have these documents and they are difficult to interpret"”many are"”ask for some targeted help from a financial advisor.

If you don't get the help you need from these channels, it may be worth your time and effort to consult a lawyer who is experienced in estate planning. To prepare for this, it would be wise to have all the documentation you can"”such as copies of your mom and dad's wills. If you don't have those documents at hand, you should be able to get them from the local probate court.