Investing in the stock market can be an excellent way to build wealth over time, but if you have a great deal of appreciated stock, it is often good to take that money off the table and invest it in safer vehicles like government bonds and bank CDs. If your stock market holdings are held in street name, you can simply call your broker and execute the sale, but if you hold paper stock certificates, the sale process is a bit more complicated.
Gather all of your stock certificates and determine which ones you plan to sell and which ones you want to keep. Look up current stock prices in a financial publication like the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily or Barrons (See Resources.)
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Contact your broker if you already have an account set up. If you do not have an account already, look for a brokerage firm with a branch in your area. This will allow you to take the stock certificates there in person rather than having to pay for shipping and insurance.
Explain to the broker that you have paper stock certificates you want to sell. Ask the broker what type of commission he charges to make such a sale.
Sign the back of each stock certificate. Be sure to sign the certificates using the exact name that appears on the front of the stock certificate. For instance, if the stock certificates list John A. Smith as the owner, do not sign with simply "John Smith." You can sign the stock certificates before you visit the broker, but keep in mind that those certificates become negotiable as soon as they are endorsed, much the same way a check does. For security reasons, it is best to wait until you are in the broker's office to endorse the stock certificates.
Take the stock certificates to your broker and turn them over. Instruct the broker to sell the stock certificates and place the cash proceeds in your account.
Complete any paperwork that the brokerage firm requires. Be sure to keep a copy of the paperwork for your records.
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