Hi Terry,
My father in law passed away a few weeks ago and my husband is named on all of his accounts. FIL went thru a lawyer and so everything is listed in a trust, which is great. My question is, he has stock via e-trade. We were told we could either leave the stocks alone as my husband is listed as beneficiary, or we could liquidate without any tax penalties. I just wondering if there's a time frame to do this in if we were to liquidate or if we should let that nest egg sit till we may want to do something with it in a year or more?

Terry Says:

What they were saying is that the “cost basis” of the stock was “stepped up” to the value on the date of your father in law’s death.  So if he had huge gains in stocks he had held for many years, you wouldn’t have to pay taxes on those gains — unless they moved even higher between the date of his death and the time you sell.

But the brokerage firm will definitely want to see the death certificate and the portion of the trust that names your husband as successor trustee.  You should get all that organized right away.   Then you need some financial planning advice — to decide not only on whether to sell some or all of the stocks, or to hold on to them.  But to figure out a new financial plan and how this impacts your life, retirement plans, income, etc.

Beware, because if you fall into the wrong hands, an unscrupulous broker will see you as a target — first to get commissions on sale of the stock, and then to get big commissions selling you something else!  That’s why there is no rush.  Let me know what state you live in and I will try to point you in the right direction.