TD Ameritrade

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Inherited accounts

Making financial decisions can be difficult, especially after you’ve lost a friend or family member. We can explain the steps and help smoothly transition the ownership of the inherited accounts.

We follow the same basic steps when transferring ownership of an account:

1. Obtain the death certificate
2. Verify the beneficiaries 
3. Decide on any transfer details
4. Complete the transfer 

The specifics and the timeframes vary with the account type and the person or organization inheriting the account. 

 

Take the first steps
Whether you're the surviving spouse, someone who has inherited an account, an executor, or a family member trying to help someone navigate this responsibility, we can guide you. 


    When a loved one passes, gather this information about the account owner and contact us:
    - Social Security Number
    - Birthdate
    - Date of death
    We will keep the account safe while the estate is settled.


    Call: 800-858-0387, select option 1
    - Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET
    Send the death certificate by:
    - Mail: PO Box 2760 Omaha, NE 68103-2760
    - Fax: 866-468-6268
    - Secure Message Center: After you log in.

Individual accounts

Spouse

Along with offering our sincere sympathies to you during this difficult time, we are committed to making it easy to understand the transfer of your spouse’s account.

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate
Before we can begin a transfer, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so that we can safeguard the assets while the estate is settled.

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload the certificate using our secure Message Center. You can also send it by fax or regular mail. 

Step 2: Verify the beneficiaries
An account owner assigns a beneficiary to specify who receives the account after their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) An account owner may:

- Name the spouse as sole beneficiary
- Have a son, daughter, another person, or an organization as the beneficiary
- List multiple beneficiaries

If the account owner didn’t name any beneficiaries, the account becomes the property of the estate. The probate court appoints an executor to settle the financial affairs of the deceased’s estate. See the Executor section for estate transfer details. 

Once we have the death certificate and the account owner’s Social Security or account number, we can determine whether or not there are beneficiaries named on the account.

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Decide on any transfer details
We will transfer ownership of the account assets to your TD Ameritrade account if you’re the account beneficiary. If you don’t already have a TD Ameritrade account in your name, you’ll have to open one to receive the account assets. In most cases, this should be the same type of account that your spouse had.

After the account transfer, you have complete control of the assets. We are here to help you carry out your plans.

Step 4: Complete the transfer
We’ll transfer the assets and notify you when the transfer is completed. The timeframes will vary with the type of account and the details of each situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for the transfer.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be difficult and complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed in your situation and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

 

Family member, friend, or other

Along with communicating our sincere sympathies for your loss, we want to make it easy for you to transfer inherited assets from a deceased account holder’s TD Ameritrade account.

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate
Before we can begin a transfer, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so that we can safeguard the assets while the estate is settled.

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload the certificate using our secure Message Center. You can also send it by fax or regular mail. 

Step 2: Verify the beneficiaries
An account owner assigns a beneficiary to communicate who receives the account after their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) An account owner may:

- Name the spouse as sole beneficiary
- Have a son, daughter, another person, or organization as the beneficiary
- List multiple beneficiaries

If the account owner didn’t name any beneficiaries, the account becomes the property of the estate. The probate court appoints an executor to settle the financial affairs of the deceased’s estate. See the Executor section for details. 

Once we have the death certificate and the account owner’s Social Security or account number, we can determine whether or not there are beneficiaries named on the account.

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Decide on any transfer details 
We will transfer ownership of account assets to the account beneficiary. This transfer requires opening a TD Ameritrade account in the beneficiary’s name to receive the assets. For estates, the executor opens an estate account. In most cases, this should be the same type of account that the deceased account owner had.

After the account transfer, the beneficiary has complete control of the assets. We are here to help in any way we can. Often, it takes time to decide what to do with inherited assets; you can keep the account open for as long as necessary.

Step 4: Complete the transfer
We’ll handle the transfer and notify you when it’s completed. The timeframes will vary with the type of account and the details of each situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for the transfer.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be difficult and complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed in your situation and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

Executor or administrator

Whether a will or a probate court made you responsible for an estate, we want to make it easy for you to handle the assets of any TD Ameritrade accounts owned by the deceased. 

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate
Before we can begin a transfer, we need:

- A copy of the official court document appointing you to act on behalf of the estate.
- A copy of the official death certificate. You can get copies from the funeral home or the local county records office. 

If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload the documents using our secure Message Center. You can also send them by fax or regular mail. 

Step 2: Verify the beneficiaries
An account owner assigns a beneficiary to specify who receives the account after their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) After we have the death certificate and the deceased’s Social Security or account number, we can identify the account beneficiaries.

If the account owner didn’t name any beneficiaries, the account becomes the property of the estate. The probate court appoints an executor to settle the financial affairs of the deceased’s estate. 

Once we have the death certificate and the account owner’s Social Security or account number, we can determine whether or not there are beneficiaries named on the account.

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Decide on any transfer details 
We will transfer ownership of account assets to the estate. This transfer requires opening a TD Ameritrade estate account.

Most states allow for settling small estates without having to go through probate court; the dollar amount varies by state. Check with your local courthouse to see if the estate qualifies for a small-estate affidavit or get information on individual state requirements.

Because of the many considerations involved in settling an estate, you may want to consult a tax advisor.

Step 4: Complete the transfer
We’ll handle the transfer and notify you when it’s completed. The timeframes will vary with the type of account and the details of each situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for the transfer.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be difficult and complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed in your situation and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

Joint accounts

Surving joint account owner

We want to make it easy for you to understand the status of your TD Ameritrade account following the death of a joint account owner.

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate
Before we can take any action or provide many specifics, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so we can help you understand your next steps.    

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. Upload the certificate using our secure Message Center. You can also send it by fax or regular mail. 

Step 2: Verify the type of joint account
On individual accounts, account owners name a beneficiary to receive the account assets after the account owner’s death. The process is different for joint accounts; the account type determines what happens to the account assets.

The surviving owners retain all assets for:

- Joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS)
- Tenants by the entireties (TBE)
- Community property with rights of survivorship (CPWROS)

The deceased’s portion goes to the estate for:

- Joint community property (JCP)
- Joint tenants in common (JTIC)

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.) 

Step 3: Identify the primary account owner 
One owner typically files the taxes for a joint account under their Social Security Number; this person is the primary account owner.

Identifying the primary account owner determines what happens to the original account:

- If the primary owner is deceased, the surviving owner(s) must open a TD Ameritrade account to receive their portion of the assets.
- If the primary owner is alive, the surviving owner(s) can maintain the original account.

Step 4: Complete the transfer
After we determine ownership, we transfer assets to the surviving owners.

If the primary account owner is not deceased, no transfers are typically needed, since the original account can be maintained.

If we are transferring assets to a new account, we’ll notify you when the transfer is completed. The timeframes vary with the type of account and the details of each situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for a transfer.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed in your situation and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET. 

Family member, friend, or other

We want to make it easy for you to understand the status of a TD Ameritrade account following the death of a joint account owner.

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate

Before we can begin a transfer, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so that we can safeguard the assets while the estate is settled.

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload the certificate using our secure Message Center. You can also send it by fax or regular mail. 

Step 2: Verify the type of joint account
On individual accounts, account owners name a beneficiary to receive the account assets after the account owner’s death. The process is different for joint accounts; the account type determines what happens to the account assets. 

The surviving owners retain all assets for:

- Joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS)
- Tenants by the entireties (TBE)
- Community property with rights of survivorship (CPWROS)

The deceased’s portion goes to the estate for:

- Joint community property (JCP)
- Joint tenants in common (JTIC) 

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Identify the primary account owner 
One owner typically files the taxes for a joint account under their Social Security Number; this person is the primary account owner.

Identifying the primary account owner determines what happens to the original account:

- If the primary owner is deceased, the surviving owner(s) must open a TD Ameritrade account to receive their portion of the assets.
- If the primary owner is alive, the surviving owner(s) can maintain the original account.

Step 4: Complete the transfer
After we determine ownership, we transfer assets to the surviving owners.

If the primary account owner is not deceased, the original account can be maintained by the surviving owners and transfers are not typically necessary.

If we are transferring assets to a new account, we’ll notify you when the transfer is completed. The timeframes vary with the type of account and the details of each situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for a transfer. 

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed in your situation and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

 

Executor or administrator

Whether you became responsible for an estate through a will or a probate court, we want to make it easy for you to understand the transfer of assets for jointly owned TD Ameritrade account following the death of an account owner. 

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate
Before we can take any action or provide many specifics, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so we can help you understand your next steps.   

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. Upload the certificate using our secure Message Center or send it by fax or regular mail. 

Step 2: Verify the type of joint account
On individual accounts, account owners name a beneficiary to receive the account assets after the account owner’s death. The account type determines what happens to joint account assets.

There are a few situations in which the estate receives assets:

- The deceased owner was a joint owner of a joint community property (JCP) or joint tenants in common (JTIC) account.
- If all the account holders of a joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS), tenants by the entireties (TBE), or community property with rights of survivorship (CPWROS) account become deceased and there are no named beneficiaries. The assets pass to the estate of the person who died most recently. 

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Identify the primary account owner 
One of the joint owners typically files taxes for the account under their Social Security Number; this person is the primary account owner. 

Identifying the primary account owner determines what happens to the original account:

- If the primary owner is alive, the surviving owner(s) can maintain the original account.
- If the primary owner of a JTWROS, TBE, or CPWROS account is deceased, the surviving owner(s) must open individual TD Ameritrade account to receive their percentage of the assets.       

Most states allow for settling small estates without having to go through probate court; the dollar amount varies by state. Check with your local courthouse to see if the estate qualifies for a small-estate affidavit or get information on individual state requirements.

Because of the many considerations involved in settling an estate, you may want to consult a tax advisor. 

Step 4: Complete the transfer   
After we determine ownership, we transfer assets to the surviving owners.

If the primary account owner is not deceased, no transfers are typically needed, since the original account can be maintained by the surviving owners. 

If we are transferring assets to an estate account, we’ll notify you when the transfer is completed. The timeframes vary with the type of account and the details of each situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for a transfer. 

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed in your situation and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

 

 

Retirement accounts

Spouse (date of death on or before 12/31/2019)

Count on us to help you understand how to transfer your spouse’s retirement account during this difficult time.

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate
Before we can start any transfer of assets, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so that we can safeguard the account while we support you in settling the estate as quickly and painlessly as possible.

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload the certificate using our secure Message Center. You can also send it by fax or regular mail.  

Step 2: Verify the beneficiaries
IRA owners typically name a beneficiary to receive the account assets on their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) An account owner may:

- Name the surviving spouse as the sole beneficiary
- List someone other than the spouse as the sole beneficiary
- Include the surviving spouse and another person or organization as beneficiaries
- Have no beneficiaries

Once we have the death certificate and the account owner’s Social Security or account number, we can determine whether or not there are beneficiaries named on the account. If you’re not sure who the beneficiaries are, call us.

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Decide how to inherit the assets 

If you’re the sole beneficiary of your spouse’s IRA, there are two ways to assume ownership of the account: 

- Treat the account as your own. We will transfer the inherited assets into your own TD Ameritrade retirement account. If you don’t have a TD Ameritrade IRA, you must open the same type of account that your spouse had (either tax-deferred traditional or Roth). You may not have to make withdrawals from your tax-deferred traditional IRA until you reach age 72.

- Open a beneficiary IRA. This type of IRA is for inherited assets and may have different tax implications. It also must adhere to IRS regulations that specify that you cannot contribute to a beneficiary IRA, must keep it separate from your own retirement assets, and follow certain distribution rules. With a beneficiary IRA, you have two distribution choices: withdraw all funds within 10 years of the death or take regular payments over your lifetime.

If you’re not the sole beneficiary, you and the other beneficiaries must open separate beneficiary IRAs to receive a share of the assets. You must open these accounts by Dec. 31 of the year after the original owner’s death. Once the accounts are opened, each beneficiary can treat the account assets as their own.

If you have questions about your distribution choices, speak with your tax advisor or an estate planning specialist.

If the account owner didn’t name a beneficiary, we follow a line of succession to find one. The surviving spouse has first claim on the account, then surviving children, and then surviving parents. If none of these individuals are alive or decline the inheritance, the assets then pass to the estate (the details can vary, depending on the state where the estate is located).

Step 4: Complete the transfer 
After the paperwork is finished, we’ll complete the transfer and notify you when it’s completed. The timeframes will vary with the type of account and the details of the situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for the transfer.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be difficult and complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

Spouse (date of death on or after 1/1/2020)

Count on us to help you understand how to transfer your spouse’s retirement account during this difficult time.

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate
Before we can start any transfer of assets, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so that we can safeguard the account while we support you in settling the estate as quickly and painlessly as possible.

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload the certificate using our secure Message Center. You can also send it by fax or regular mail.  

Step 2: Verify the beneficiaries
IRA owners typically name a beneficiary to receive the account assets on their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) An account owner may:

- Name the surviving spouse as the sole beneficiary
- List someone other than the spouse as the sole beneficiary
- Include the surviving spouse and another person or organization as beneficiaries
- Have no beneficiaries

Once we have the death certificate and the account owner’s Social Security or account number, we can determine whether or not there are beneficiaries named on the account. If you’re not sure who the beneficiaries are, call us.

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Decide how to inherit the assets 
If you’re the sole beneficiary of your spouse’s IRA, there are two ways to assume ownership of the account: 

- Treat the account as your own. We will transfer the inherited assets into your own TD Ameritrade retirement account. If you don’t have a TD Ameritrade IRA, you must open the same type of account that your spouse had (either tax-deferred traditional or Roth). You may not have to make withdrawals from your tax-deferred traditional IRA until you reach age 72.

- Open a beneficiary IRA. This type of IRA is for inherited assets and may have different tax implications. It also must adhere to IRS regulations that specify that you cannot contribute to a beneficiary IRA, must keep it separate from your own retirement assets, and follow certain distribution rules. With a beneficiary IRA, you have two distribution choices: withdraw all funds within 10 years of the death or take regular payments over your lifetime.

If you’re not the sole beneficiary, you and the other beneficiaries must open separate beneficiary IRAs to receive a share of the assets. You must open these accounts by Dec. 31 of the year after the original owner’s death. Once the accounts are opened, each beneficiary can treat the account assets as their own.

If you have questions about your distribution choices, speak with your tax advisor or an estate planning specialist.

If the account owner didn’t name a beneficiary, we follow a line of succession to find one. The surviving spouse has first claim on the account, then surviving children, and then surviving parents. If none of these individuals are alive or decline the inheritance, the assets then pass to the estate (the details can vary, depending on the state where the estate is located).

Step 4: Complete the transfer 
After the paperwork is finished, we’ll complete the transfer and notify you when it’s completed. The timeframes will vary with the type of account and the details of the situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for the transfer.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be difficult and complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

Family member, friend, or other (date of death on or before 12/31/2019)

Along with our sincere sympathies for the loss of your friend or relative, we want to make it easy for you to understand the various ways that we can transfer inherited assets from the deceased account holder’s retirement account to the appropriate beneficiaries.

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain death certificate
Before we can start any transfer of assets, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so that we can safeguard the account while we support you in settling the estate as quickly and painlessly as possible.

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload the certificate using our secure Message Center. You can also send it by fax or regular mail.  

Step 2: Verify the beneficiaries
IRA owners typically name a beneficiary to receive the account assets on their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) If you’re not sure who the beneficiaries are, call us to find out.

The beneficiaries that an account holder names can vary. The possibilities include:

- A surviving spouse as the sole beneficiary
- One or more people (other than the surviving spouse) or an organization as beneficiaries
- No beneficiaries

Once we have the death certificate and the account owner’s Social Security or account number, we can determine whether or not there are beneficiaries named on the account. If you’re not sure who the beneficiaries are, call us.

Please contact us if you know that one of the beneficiaries is deceased.   

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Decide how to inherit the assets 

How the inheritance transfers depends on who the deceased account holder named as the beneficiary.

If a surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary, see the Spouse section for transfer information.

If a deceased account holder didn’t name any beneficiaries, we follow a line of succession until we find a beneficiary. The inheritance first passes to a surviving spouse, then surviving children, then surviving parents, and finally to the estate. The probate court appoints an executor to settle the financial affairs of the deceased’s estate. See the Executor section for information on estate transfers.

If anyone other than a surviving spouse is a beneficiary, the transfer must adhere to IRS regulations that specify that a beneficiary cannot contribute to a beneficiary IRA, must keep the assets separate from their own retirement account, and follow certain distribution rules. 

How a beneficiary inherits the IRA depends on the account owner’s age:

- If the deceased account owner had reached age 70 ½ and was taking regular distributions, you must continue taking the payments. We will calculate the payments over your lifetime.

- If the account owner had not reached age 70 ½, the beneficiary has a few choices:

       1. Take regular payments over your lifetime (payments don’t have to begin until the date that the deceased account holder would have reached age 70 ½)

       2. Withdraw all of the funds within five years of the death

       3. A one-time payment is another alternative. Keep in mind that we first must transfer the assets into an account in the beneficiary’s name that is the same type of account that the deceased account holder had. (If the original account was a traditional IRA, the assets would be transferred into a traditional beneficiary IRA; if it was a Roth IRA, it would go into a Roth beneficiary IRA.) Once the assets are in that account, the beneficiary can sell the assets and withdraw the funds. Since it’s an inherited IRA, they won’t be charged the 10% penalty if they are under age 59 ½, but the payment is considered taxable income.

For details about these payments and your alternatives, speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET. 

Step 4: Complete the transfer 
After the paperwork is finished, we’ll complete the transfer and notify you when it’s completed. The timeframes will vary with the type of account and the details of the situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for the transfer. 

Often, it takes time to decide what to do with inherited assets. You can keep the account open for as long as needed.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be difficult and complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET. 

Family member, friend, or other (date of death on or after 1/1/2020)

Along with our sincere sympathies for the loss of your friend or relative, we want to make it easy for you to understand the various ways that we can transfer inherited assets from the deceased account holder’s retirement account to the appropriate beneficiaries.

We follow these steps when transferring ownership of an account:

Step 1: Obtain death certificate
Before we can start any transfer of assets, we need a copy of the official death certificate. It’s important to send it right away so that we can safeguard the account while we support you in settling the estate as quickly and painlessly as possible.

You can get copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the local county records office. If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload the certificate using our secure Message Center. You can also send it by fax or regular mail.  

Step 2: Verify the beneficiaries
IRA owners typically name a beneficiary to receive the account assets on their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) If you’re not sure who the beneficiaries are, call us to find out.

The beneficiaries that an account holder names can vary. The possibilities include:

- A surviving spouse as the sole beneficiary
- One or more people (other than the surviving spouse) or an organization as beneficiaries
- No beneficiaries

Once we have the death certificate and the account owner’s Social Security or account number, we can determine whether or not there are beneficiaries named on the account. If you’re not sure who the beneficiaries are, call us.

Please contact us if you know that one of the beneficiaries is deceased.   

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Decide how to inherit the assets 

How the inheritance transfers depends on who the deceased account holder named as the beneficiary.

If a surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary, see the Spouse section for transfer information.

If a deceased account holder didn’t name any beneficiaries, we follow a line of succession until we find a beneficiary. The inheritance first passes to a surviving spouse, then surviving children, then surviving parents, and finally to the estate. The probate court appoints an executor to settle the financial affairs of the deceased’s estate. See the Executor section for information on estate transfers.

If anyone other than a surviving spouse is a beneficiary, the transfer must adhere to IRS regulations that specify that a beneficiary cannot contribute to a beneficiary IRA, must keep the assets separate from their own retirement account, and follow certain distribution rules. 

Most non-spouse beneficiaries must withdraw all funds within 10 years of the death, regardless of whether the account holder was taking regular distributions.

A beneficiary can make withdrawals at any time within the 10-year period.
The withdrawal can be a lump sum payment. Keep in mind that we first must transfer the assets into an account in the beneficiary’s name that is the same type of account that the deceased account holder had. (If the original account was a traditional IRA, the assets would be transferred into a traditional beneficiary IRA; if it was a Roth IRA, it would go into a Roth beneficiary IRA.) Once the assets are in a beneficiary IRA, a beneficiary can sell the assets and withdraw the funds. Since it’s an inherited IRA, they won’t be charged the 10% penalty if they are under age 59 ½, but the payment is considered taxable income.
Exceptions to the 10-year withdrawal rule may apply if the beneficiary is disabled or chronically ill, is the deceased account owner’s minor child, or is no more than 10 years younger than the deceased. Contact your tax advisor or estate planning expert for more information about whether you qualify for an exception.

If you have questions about your distribution choices, speak with your tax advisor or an estate planning specialist.

Step 4: Complete the transfer 
After the paperwork is finished, we’ll complete the transfer and notify you when it’s completed. The timeframes will vary with the type of account and the details of the situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for the transfer. 

Often, it takes time to decide what to do with inherited assets. You can keep the account open for as long as needed.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be difficult and complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

Executor or administrator

Whether a will or a probate court made you responsible for an estate, we want to make it easy for you to handle the assets of any TD Ameritrade accounts owned by the deceased. 

Typically, IRA owners name one or more beneficiaries to receive the account assets on their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) If a deceased account owner did not name a beneficiary, TD Ameritrade follows a line of succession to find one. Before an IRA becomes the property of the estate, it must meet all of the following conditions (in order of importance):

1. The deceased account owner did not name a beneficiary
2. There is no surviving spouse or the spouse declines the inheritance
3. There are no surviving children or those children decline the inheritance
4. There are no surviving parents or those parents decline the inheritance

If the situation meets all of these conditions, we follow this process to transfer the assets to the estate: 

Step 1: Obtain the death certificate and court appointment document
Before we can begin a transfer, we need:

- The document appointing you to act on behalf of the estate.
- A copy of the official death certificate. The funeral home or the county records office can give you copies.

If you have a TD Ameritrade account, you can upload these documents using our secure Message Center. You can also send them by fax or regular mail. 

It’s important to send these documents right away so that we can safeguard the account while we support you in settling the estate.

Step 2: Verify the beneficiaries
IRA owners typically name a beneficiary to receive the account assets on their death. (A beneficiary named on an account takes precedence over one named in a will.) Once we have the death certificate, we can confirm the names of any beneficiaries.

If the deceased account owner didn’t name any beneficiaries, we follow a line of succession to find one. A surviving spouse has first claim on the account, then surviving children, and then surviving parents. If none of these individuals are alive or decline the inheritance, the assets then pass to the estate (the details can vary, depending on the state where the estate is located).

If you’re not sure who the beneficiaries are, or know that a beneficiary is deceased, call us.

(For definitions, see the “Common terms” section of this page.)

Step 3: Decide on any transfer details
If we don’t find any beneficiaries, we transfer ownership of the account assets to the estate. This requires opening a TD Ameritrade beneficiary account in the estate’s name. This should be the same type of account that the deceased account owner had. (If the original account was a traditional IRA, open a traditional beneficiary IRA; if it was a Roth IRA, open a Roth beneficiary IRA.) 

Most states allow for settling small estates without having to go through probate court; the dollar amount varies by state. Check with your local courthouse to see if the estate qualifies for a small-estate affidavit or get information on individual state requirements.

Step 4: Complete the transfer 
After the paperwork is finished, we’ll complete the transfer and notify you when it’s finished. The timeframes will vary with the type of account and the details of the situation. We will inform you about the estimated timeframe for the transfer. 

Often, it takes time to decide what to do with inherited assets. You can keep the account open for as long as needed.

We’re ready to help you. Resolving estate matters can be difficult and complicated. Our trained estate specialists can explain what’s needed in your situation and answer any questions. Speak with a specialist by calling 800-858-0387 and selecting option 1, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

 

Other accounts

Call for assistance with other types of accounts, including:

  • - Estate accounts
  • - Foreign accounts
  • - Guardian/conservatorship account
  • - Minor accounts
  • - Qualified retirement plans (including 401(k) and profit-sharing plans)
  • - Trust accounts
  • - Corporate accounts

Common terms

Beneficiary: One who receives the proceeds of a trust, retirement plan, or life insurance policy.

Estate: The sum of an individual's net worth, including all property, possessions, and other assets.

Executor: A person appointed in a will to carry out the will’s provisions. Also called executrix, personal representative, or administrator.

Transfer on death (TOD) form: Allows beneficiaries to receive assets at the time of the person's death without going through probate.

After the transfer is completed

Deciding what to do with an account can seem complicated and raises many questions. We offer various resources to help you with your plans.

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Education

Interactive courses and webcasts

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Tools

Free, powerful trading platforms

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Support

Dependable, professional service

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