How to Change an Account From Joint to Individual at a Brokerage Firm

Many investors open joint accounts at brokerage firms because the accounts have certain tax advantages. People who decide they no longer want a joint account can change the account to a single-ownership account. Some firms require account owners to close the existing joint account and open a new account listed under only one of the owners, but most firms enable people to remove a co-owner and keep the original account open.

Find your most recent brokerage account statement. The statement lists the account number and the names of people listed on the account. If you have more than one account, make sure you find the account number for the account from which you intend to remove the signer.

Call your broker and explain that you intend to change your brokerage account from a joint- to a single-ownership account. Provide the broker with the account number and ask the broker to email, fax or mail you a form to complete the change. If your brokerage firm has online access, you can print out an account change form from the brokerage's website. Some companies ask you to complete a new account form whenever you add or remove an account owner.

Complete the brokerage form. You must list the existing account number and the name, Social Security number, date of birth, address and phone number of the individual remaining on the account. Generally, brokerage firms require both of the existing owners to sign an account change form or the new account form being used to affect the change.

Provide your broker with the completed form. You may also have to sign a tax form if the new owner was not the primary account holder whose Social Security number was listed on the account. Check your next brokerage statement to ensure that it reflects the new titling.

Tips

  • If the joint account owner dies, you must supply the brokerage firm with a certified copy of the death certificate to remove the deceased owner from the joint account. Some firms require a copy of the divorce certificate if a marriage break-up caused the removal of an owner from the account.

    If your firm requires you to close the account and open a new one, you can also move the brokerage fund to another institution. Do not liquidate your investment holdings, just open a new account and ask the new broker to submit a request with the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service. The stocks, bonds and other holdings are transferred without charge to the new brokerage company.

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