Mailbag: How Do I Open A Vanguard Trust Account?

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I am the trustee for my mother’s living trust and I am trying to help her open an investment account at Vanguard. How do I go about opening a Trust account at Vanguard?

Most regular brokerage accounts can be opened online. Trust accounts need to use the paper form and provide a little more information.

Here is how you find the proper form:

1. Go to It will probably ask you which of the following you are:

  • Personal investors
  • Retirement plan participants
  • Institutional investors
  • Financial advisors.

Vanguard Personal Investors

2. Click on “Personal investors.” This will bring you to the Vanguard page for personal investors. Up at the top of the page is a red line with some choices at the top right part of the line:

Vanguard Forms

3. Click on “Forms.” This brings up a list of different categories of forms and the most common forms in each category.

Vanguard Trust

4. Under “Open a nonretirement account” click on “Trust.” you will find two documents.

Vanguard Trust Account Registration Form

5. Select “Account Registration Form – Trust Only” by clicking on the “View and Print” Option.

Vanguard Trust Account Form

6. Call Vanguard at 1-800-662-7447 if you have any questions. The form is annotated with helpful information. And don’t forget to send them a copy of the trust documents.

7. Set your default method of cost basis account. Vanguard’s default method for matching mutual fund trade lots is Average Cost Accounting. This is usually not the best methodology. You can set the default method to HIFO using the Vanguard “Cost Basis Method Election Form.”

Follow David John Marotta:

President, CFP®, AIF®, AAMS®

David John Marotta is the Founder and President of Marotta Wealth Management. He played for the State Department chess team at age 11, graduated from Stanford, taught Computer and Information Science, and still loves math and strategy games. In addition to his financial writing, David is a co-author of The Haunting of Bob Cratchit.