If you are responsible for dealing with an estate involving North American assets, or you are attending to any other transfer of North American shares or securities, you will usually be asked to provide a medallion signature guarantee (also referred to as a medallion guarantee, signature or stamp). These are a statutory requirement when managing the movement of securities and shares in North America and they act to limit the liability and loss by safeguarding against forged signatures.
Only certain institutions are authorised to provide medallion signature stamp, and a North American transfer agent will not accept a lesser signature guarantee in place of this, such as a notary stamp or apostille.
They are not the same as surety bonds, although we can help with both.
Despite the fact that there are many financial institutions in North America authorised to provide medallion signature guarantees, it would seem that very few will provide these to the general public and only these few will do so if you are a long standing client of theirs.
It is harder still for residents outside of North America to obtain these, as many banks outside of the US just do not want to take on the risk associated with the guarantee.
How do you obtain a Medallion Signature Guarantee?
Medallions are not easy to obtain if you are a resident outside of the USA.
Various companies have different names for this stamp, which can cause confusion. The following terms are sometimes used: ‘Medallion Guarantees’, ‘Signature Guarantees’, ‘Barcoded Signature Guarantees’, ‘Barcoded Medallion Guarantees’ and ‘Medallion Stamps’.
As the process depends on the particular shares you hold, we ask that you provide details of your investments so that we can give you the best advice for your situation.
How much does a Medallion Guarantee Stamp cost?
The Medallion Only Service:
The fee for the “Medallion Only Service” is £235, plus VAT for UK residents.
If you select this service you will be responsible for ensuring that all the papers required by the transfer agents have been confirmed by them and that you have completed these correctly.
This service does not include checking the completed papers, or liaising with the transfer agents, or any advice or assistance in the drafting of any of the required papers.
As we would have had no prior involvement with the transfer agents, we cannot be sure if the papers you have drafted will meet their requirements. Therefore, if you have any queries about the transfer paperwork, please refer it to the transfer agent/ share registrar before sending this to us so that they can clarify their requirements to you.
Once the stamp has been affixed to your papers, the documents are returned to you so that you may arrange to forward these on to the transfer agents/ share registrars together with all their other requirements.
The Full Registration Service:
The fee for the full registration service starts from £850 plus VAT and disbursements for shareholdings worth in excess of US $10,000. For shareholdings of a lower value, we may offer a discounted price where appropriate. For very low value shareholdings, where our usual registration services would not be economical, please get in touch with us to see if an alternative service can be arranged.
With the full registration service, there are a number of factors which will have an impact on the type of administration required. The value of the shares, the format in which they are held, the domicile of the deceased shareholder and what you want to have done with the shares, will all be taken into account to determine which service is appropriate to meet your needs.
As part of this service, we include any Medallion Guarantee Stamps that are required – there is no additional cost for these.
For Canadian holdings, where the instructions are to execute a sale of the shares, it is not always necessary for a Medallion Signature Guarantee stamp to be required. Under our full service, we can ensure that only those that require a medallion go through the application to obtain one.
Please note that additional fees will apply if any work is required with regard to missing share certificates, escheatment of securities, confirming shareholdings, lifting restrictions on shareholdings and the collection of outstanding dividends.
If the value of any US stock at the date of death, for a non-US citizen, exceeds US $60,000 you will need to obtain a federal tax clearance certificate (also known as a federal transfer certificate) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and pay any estate tax (if applicable). We can assist with this, however, please note that the work required is quite extensive, as it currently takes the IRS at least 6 – 9 months to issue clearance on the most simple of estates. It can take up to three years if the estate is selected for audit.
You cannot attend to the shares until the clearance has been issued. If you require a federal tax clearance certificate, a further fee of at least £995 plus VAT will apply, depending on the domicile of the deceased and whether any estate tax is due to the IRS.
For assets other than shares, we would require further information about the estate and the assets to enable us to provide a quote.
Please note that for multiple requests within the same application, we may be able to offer a discount. Please contact us to discuss further if you think this may apply to your application.
How can our Medallion signature guarantee solicitors help?
Lester Aldridge is pleased to be the first law firm in the UK to be authorised to act as guarantors under the US Medallion Signature Guarantee STAMP programme.
To complement the firm’s specialist services in assisting executors and beneficiaries around the world with administering estate assets located in North America, Lester Aldridge has now extended its offering and is an authorised guarantor to handle Medallion Signature Guarantee applications, without having to refer any part of the process to a third party.
Through a special relationship with a UK based stock broker firm we have access to a UK based medallion guarantor and thus we are able to assist those who have to attend the administration of estates where there is a deceased shareholder with North American securities.
The guarantor we use will not take instructions directly from individuals, and therefore Lester Aldridge gather the required identification documentation and estate papers needed to ensure that all the warranties for a medallion can be met, and we are then able to obtain the required stamps from the UK based provider.
Complimentary services include applying for and obtaining IRS clearance by way of transfer certificates and 706 applications, applying for surety bonds to obtain replacements for missing share certificates, and dealing with US unclaimed property applications, among a host of other services.
If you require assistance with a medallion signature guarantee that is required, please contact the International Probate team at Lester Aldridge, who would be pleased to assist you.
Frequently Asked Questions
The provision of a medallion signature guarantee forms part of our full service for deceased estates – for no extra cost.
If you require the medallion signature guarantee as part of the administration of a deceased shareholder’s estate, we offer a full service, whereby we attend to the documentary requirements to register the death and collect or transfer North American assets on behalf of executors or administrators.
Where we are instructed under our full service fee structure, there is no additional fee or disbursement for a Medallion Signature Guarantee stamp. For securities valued over US$10,000, our full service fees start as low as £850 plus VAT with the required medallion signature guarantee included as part of the service. Where there is just one shareholding with a value lower than US $10,000, we can offer discounted fees, so please contact us to discuss if this applicable.