What can I do with this account?
Your options depend on what type of account it is. We'll help you answer that question and move to the next step.
What type of account is it?
Let's determine what type of Vanguard account your loved one had.
Is it an IRA?
If your loved one invested in an IRA (whether a traditional, Roth, SEP, or SIMPLE), then he or she had a retirement account.*
What you can expect during the account transfer
You're inheriting your loved one's investments—not money. That means you can't cash out the account until you've transferred it into your name.
Life insurance policies typically pay off with a check to each beneficiary. But an investment account is more like a car. When someone sells—or, if you're lucky, gives—you a car, the title is transferred to you, making you the owner. In that sense, investment accounts are more like cars than they are like insurance policies.
We'll help you move that account into your name, and then you can choose whether to change the investments in the account or even sell them.
Selling the investments
If you decide to sell the investments after you've transferred the account into your name, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Liquidating the account can provide you with money that can help you in any number of ways. But because you're selling the investments, you may wind up with a tax bill.
Generally, if you were to leave the inherited account invested, you could avoid paying any taxes on it. The IRS may consider selling the investments, on the other hand, as a taxable event.
If you're considering selling the investments, check with an attorney or a tax advisor to avoid any surprises.
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Identifying the account type
The account owner who has died.
An account with two or more owners.
A type of account created by the IRS that offers tax benefits when used to save for retirement.
A type of investment that pools shareholder money and invests it in a variety of securities. Each investor owns shares of the fund and can buy or sell these shares at any time. Mutual funds typically have lower costs and are more diversified and convenient than investing in individual securities, and they're professionally managed.
An account held with a registered broker-dealer that allows the investor to deposit securities with the firm and place investment orders through the broker, which then carries out the transactions on the investor's behalf. Investors can trade stocks and bonds, options, and exchange-traded funds; place special types of orders (stop and limit orders, for example); and trade on margin.