Am I still responsible for my ex-husband's stock after his death?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 18, 2016
Amarlo asked...

If I signed paperwork over for stock during a divorce (10 years ago) but my ex-husband never submitted it, do I have any further responsibility after his death? My name is still on the account and I signed the place he and his attorney instructed me to sign, I don't feel I have any further need to be involved. The stock was left to someone else in his will. The stock company says I am the owner because I was listed as joint tenent. I feel I did what I needed to do to sign it over and he would have known that if he intended to take me off the stock.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a 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.

For better or worse, the stock is yours.

It sounds as if you did everything within your power to be removed as a joint owner in that stock. But if your ex, or his foot-dragging attorney, failed to complete the steps to remove you as joint tenant before he died, then you are the legal owner. It doesn't matter what his will directs, since joint tenancy property passes automatically to the other joint tenant instead of by will.

There is also a possibility that your ex changed his mind"”and wanted you to get the stock when all was said and done.

There are those among us"”and I shall remain nameless"”who might simply take the stock and invest in a new pair of Manolo Blahniks, kicking up your heels in memory of better times.

If you prefer no tangible reminders, you could cash in the stock and donate it to a favorite charity. Or you could simple turn over ownership to the person your ex-husband named to get the stock in his will"”after checking with a financial advisor or tax expert to make sure the new owner covers all transfer costs and potential tax liabilities.