You should know the answers to the questions in the checklist below. Understanding the topics involved and the key stock plan documents will help you make the most of your restricted stock/RSU grant and prevent costly mistakes.

1. Do I have a grant of restricted stock or a grant of restricted stock units? What are the key differences?

2. Is formal acceptance of the grant required? What happens if I don't accept the grant before vesting?

3. What is the vesting schedule?

4. Is vesting based on duration of employment from the grant date or on performance goals?

5. What would happen to the vesting of my grant if I were to leave or lose my job, die, become disabled, retire, or become retirement-eligible? What about a leave of absence or furlough?

6. When the shares vest, what account will they appear in?

7. Does the company offer a choice for the tax withholding, or does it hold back shares to pay the taxes?

8. With RSUs, can I defer the delivery of the shares at vesting?

9. If my company pays dividends to shareholders, will I get dividends on my restricted stock? If so, when? What if I have a grant of RSUs instead?

10. What would happen to my restricted stock in a corporate acquisition or merger?

In addition, you should understand the tax treatment, the reporting on your Form W-2 (whether for restricted stock or RSUs), and the related tax return reporting. This website's Tax Center covers all tax topics involving stock compensation. For key financial-planning points to know about your restricted stock or RSUs, see a related article.

For grants of restricted stock or RSUs in a private company, see a related checklist of points to know.