When going through papers or the safety deposit box of your passed loved one, you may come across old share certificates. These can either be worth a lot, or worthless.
You can start by researching the company name online. If nothing comes up, it may mean the company changed its name or it’s no longer in business.
Try to locate any other information relating to the share certificate, such as the brokerage handling the shares for the company. You can contact the brokerage or trading company and inquire whether the company is still trading and in business. An important piece of information they need is the CUSIP number. With this, they can search any name changes, reorganizations, and other changes that have occurred throughout the company’s history.
For a fee, stock search companies will assist you in determining if your certificates are worth anything. Some companies that will help you in investigating an old stock are:
Stock Search Global
Don G. Levy and Associates
If the shares turn out to be worthless, there are hobbyists who collect old share certificates for their historical value or artistic design, called scripophily. A few places to sell them are with the International Bon and Share Society or www.scripophily.com.