Original share certificates can create problems for the attorney for property who takes over the management of the incapacitated donor’s property, or the estate trustee who locates such an asset in the course of taking an inventory of the estate residence or the deceased’s safety deposit box.

Sometimes, the shares may be in a company that no longer exists and the valuation of the shares can become a tedious exercise.

In other situations, there may be a suspicion that shares exist but no share certificates are found.  Sleuthing can consist of:

  • Review of the deceased’s tax returns to track sources of income (including dividends).  The shares can then be located by contacting Computershare (a share and bond registration firm); and
  • The deceased’s bank accounts can reveal if any charges have gone through for a safety deposit box which may hold shares. 

 In terms of the management of property, there is something to be said for holding share certificates in a securities account with an investment dealer thereby allowing for constant monitoring of market values, and keeping track of share splits and facilitating the ability to sell shares.

In terms of estate planning, financial advisors quite rightly point out that the holding of an investment portfolio provides for easier transfer of securities to beneficiaries, thereby avoiding the cost and hassle of re-registering share certificates.  In addition, consolidation of investments facilitates the filing of taxes, as the securities dealer will issue a single summary of all income earned and a T5 slip.


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