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Getting started

We know how difficult losing a loved one can be. Even if you found yourself unprepared to inherit this account, we'll do whatever we can to make the transfer go smoothly.

What you'll need to inherit the account

If someone has left you a Vanguard account and you're wondering what you'll need to do to inherit that account, you've come to the right place. We'll help you understand the options available to you as a beneficiary. We use inherit to describe those options generally, but, as you'll see, you may have other options as well.

Inheriting an investment account isn't quite the same as being the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. You can receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy in cash. But when you inherit a Vanguard account, you inherit the investments in that account.

Later, you can choose whether to move those investments into an account of your own, change them, or even sell them. But first, you'll have to transfer the account into your name. To begin that transfer, give us a call at 877-445-8798. If you're one of a group of beneficiaries, each beneficiary should call to start the transfer.

What you can expect during your first call to us

  • We'll confirm that you're listed as a beneficiary on the account or someone authorized to act on the beneficiary's behalf.
  • We may ask you for the death certificate, which the funeral home should provide.
  • We'll figure out which forms you need to fill out, and we may even be able to prefill some of the information before sending them to you.

Protecting the account

Even if you're not ready to begin the account transfer today, it's still a good idea to call us at 877-445-8798 to protect the account against possible fraud. We'll also check whether your loved one's account has any automatic services that we should stop.

When you call, be sure to have:

  • The account owner's name and address.
  • The last 4 digits of the account owner's Social Security number.

A note about your options

Your options for what to do with the account depend on what type of account it is and your relationship to the account owner.

Getting started

Tell us a few details about the person who passed away. We'll let you know if you can complete the process online, or if you need to call us.

Begin now

Stay organized

We know that inheriting a Vanguard account is just one of the tasks on your to-do list during this busy time.

Your questions answered

We've found that people inheriting accounts tend to have similar questions.

Inheritance glossary

Being familiar with these terms might help as you transfer your loved one's account into your name.


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A person or organization designated to receive the proceeds of an investment account (or an insurance policy, a pension, or an annuity contract) after the owner's death.