How to Get a Signature Guarantee

How does a signature guarantee work?


A signature guarantee is a signature combined with a stamp applied to a document, usually from a bank or other financial institution. The main use of a signature guarantee is for a transfer of assets (TOA), but it can be used for various purposes, including account maintenance requests. The stamp on the document shows that the agent has reviewed the signor's identification and that the signature is legitimate. This is a higher standard than a notary public, which indicates that the notary has reviewed and confirmed the identity of the signor, but no guarantee is made to the validity of the signature.

Where do I get a medallion signature guarantee?


Most large banks and other financial institutions can perform a signature guarantee. When an individual needs a signature guarantee, he should approach the bank where the assets currently reside. If that institution is not licensed to issue a signature guarantee, he can approach another large institution to issue the guarantee (which may also require a small fee).

How long does it take to get a signature guarantee?


It only takes a few minutes to get the stamp once the proper paperwork is in order and an accredited agent is ready to conduct the guarantee. The entire process of transferring the assets can take much longer, since there is paperwork to be filed between the sending and receiving bank. Other verification is also necessary on the back end, causing the entire process to take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months.

What requires a medallion signature guarantee?


A signature guarantee is only necessary for a narrow range of transactions. Transactions such as transfer of assets, closing joint accounts, performing certain types of account maintenance, and some other activities may require a medallion signature guarantee stamp. Others will only require a notarization or even a plain signature. Financial institution representatives will indicate what level of signature authorization is required for a given transaction.

What to do if a bank won't issue a signature guarantee?


Some banks choose not to give a medallion signature guarantee. It takes training and money to become certified to issue a guarantee and some banks are not willing to do this. Other institutions simply wish to not incur the liability associated with medallion signature guarantees. In this situation it is possible to find other large brokerage houses, banks, and even insurance companies. It is advisable to seek out entities where you already have an account and a relationship. If the current institution will not perform a signature guarantee, contact your insurance company, mortgage company, or brokerage firm to see if they can produce a signature guarantee. Since you already have a working relationship with the institution, you increase your chances of being able to get it, hopefully without a service fee. If it is not possible to get a medallion stamp, negotiate with the bank that requires it to see if there is an alternate option. Sometimes it is possible to simply get a notarization or appear in person to sign the document.