Q&A: Naming a Spouse On Stock Certificate

Q What is required to add my wife's name to my residential co-op stock certificate if I still have a mortgage on the unit in just my name? I am not trying to re-finance, but to just add my wife's name to the stock certificate.

—Certificate Owner

A “Since most proprietary leases permit transfers to spouses without requiring board approval,” says Sandra Jacobus, partner at New York law firm Ganfer and Shore, LLP, “the writer should not have a problem with his cooperative. However, dealing with his bank is another story.

“In order to add his wife’s name to his stock certificate, the cooperative will have to issue a new stock certificate and proprietary lease in both of their names. But to do that, the cooperative will need to cancel the existing stock certificate and either cancel the existing proprietary lease or assign it which means that the writer will have to contact his bank to have them deliver the existing stock and proprietary lease to their New York City attorney. A closing will then be set up with the transfer agent for the cooperative, the writer and his wife and the bank attorney where closing documents will be signed and the stock certificates and proprietary leases exchanged.

“The bank may have some additional documents that the writer and his wife will have to sign as well. The bank may also want a new Recognition Agreement signed as well. A recognition agreement is an agreement between the cooperative, the lender and the shareholder that acknowledges the existence of a lien on the shares and outlines the parties rights and obligations to each other.

“Unfortunately, the customer service people at most banks are not familiar with cooperatives and will not initially understand what the writer is talking about when he contacts them, which will complicate and delay the process. But perseverance and patience will eventually win out and the writer will be able to accomplish his goal. The writer should also keep in mind that both the cooperative’s transfer agent and the bank attorney will charge a fee for this transaction.”

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  • Citimortgage just told me that any access or change to the co-op documents would require that mortgage be refinanced or paid off in full. Can this possibly be legal?