How to Find Out if a Decedent Had Stocks

by David Sarokin ; Updated April 19, 2017
A person's stock holdings leave several paper and electronic trails you can follow.

When a person dies, it is often left to the surviving family members to handle the decedent's financial affairs. This includes things like paying outstanding bills, filing taxes and deciding the disposition of investments. If stock holdings are not detailed in a will or in the decedent's personal papers, you can use a variety of sources to find information on the decedent's stock holdings.

Step 1

Check the decedent's tax returns. The decedent's tax filings from past years likely include information on stock sales and dividends received, and are generally one of the most detailed sources of financial information readily available. Family members handling the decedent's estate can request a transcript of tax filings from the IRS. The request can be made online, through the mail or over the phone.

Step 2

Check newly arriving mail. If you have access to the decedent's mail, check it for statements from brokers and tax information from stock holdings. An immediate family member can file a forwarding address with the post office to have the decedent's mail sent to a new address. This will help simplify the task of tracking new mail as it arrives.

Step 3

Examine the decedent's computers. Many people maintain financial records on their computers, either as documents, spreadsheets or as part of financial software such as Quicken or TurboTax. If the computer is not password-protected, examine program and file names to find those likely to contain financial information. Files dated in January, February, March or April are more likely to be associated with tax records than files from other months. Be sure to examine all computers that the decedent may have used.

About the Author

David Sarokin is a well-known specialist on Internet research. He has been profiled in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post" and in numerous online publications. Based in Washington D.C., he splits his time between several research services, writing content and his work as an environmental specialist with the federal government. David is the author of Missed Information (MIT Press, 2016), a book exploring how better information can lead to a more sustainable future.

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