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If you have any stocks or bonds, or mutual funds you may be holding the actual certificates, or they may be in book entry form, or they may be held in an account at a stock broker.
If the securities or accounts are in your name alone, they are probate property.
There are several ways to keep securities out of probate. If you want the person who is to receive the balance on the account upon death to also be able to transact on the account during your lifetime, you can set it up as a joint and survivorship account. If the securities are certificated, the face of the certificate will say “John Doe and Jane Doe JTWROS”, or sometimes “John Doe and Jane Doe Jt. Ten.”. If the securities are held in an account at a brokerage, JTWROS or Jt. Ten. should appear on the paperwork from the broker or transfer agent maintaining the book entry accounts.
If you do not want the person you want to receive the funds upon your death to have access to your funds during your life, then the account can be set up as a Transfer on Death account (TOD). The certificates or the broker’s paperwork, and maybe your statement will say “Richard Roe TOD Randi Roe”.
Be careful when setting up a joint and survivor account, regardless of whether it is for securities or a bank account: