I can’t find the majority of my late dad’s share certificates, can I still sell or transfer them?

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My father died a few years ago and I was his executor. I settled all his bank accounts and other financial matters, but he had some direct stake in companies including Lloyds and BP, and I never settled them.

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I have some share certificates but I think most of them are missing. How can I solve it? Do they have a register that shows them as the owner of those shares?

Can we sell or transfer them without certificate? Are we at risk of losing money?

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Missing share certificates makes it more difficult to sell and transfer shares, but there are several ways.

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Angard Carrick replies to This Is Money: First of all, I am sorry to hear about your loss. Sorting out a loved one’s possessions and assets is often difficult — and there’s no doubt that missing a share certificate is an unwanted complication.

It is fairly common to overlook a deceased person’s shares, but the good news is that money is unlikely to be lost because the shares still exist.

Assuming that your father had not held his shares electronically, he would have been issued a hard copy of the share certificate.

If these are lost the shares cannot be accessed without requesting a replacement certificate, which can be a complicated process.

However, if you know the two companies he has invested in, you can approach the registrar and ask for a copy.

The three main UK stock registrars are Equity, Link and ComputerShares which cover most UK companies.

Gavin Holt, head of probate for Cooperative Legal Services, said: ‘As your father’s executor, you will need to arrange for the shares to be sold, or alternatively, transferred to the beneficiaries of his estate.

You will need to contact the registrar for the companies incorporated. For BP, the registrar is Link Asset Services and for Lloyds Banking Group, it is Equity.

The registrar will confirm how many shares are in your father’s property and provide you with details of the process to sell or transfer them.

Technically, unless the shares are held electronically, you must have a certificate of origin to sell or transfer the shares.

However, registrars recognize that certificates can be lost over time, especially in the event of bereavement.

They should provide you with some standard form in which you can declare that the certificates are lost and indemnify them for any damages they may have suffered as a result of the re-issue of the certificates. There is usually a small administrative fee.

This is usually a straightforward process, but if the value of the shares is high, for example over £100,000, you may need to contact a specialist insurance company and ask them to countersign the forms.

If you originally received the grant of probate while dealing with your father’s estate, you must send an official copy to the registrar. If you didn’t, you may have to get a grant of probate now. This will also depend on the value of the shares.

If the value is low, for example under £20,000, you may be able to arrange a sale or transfer without the grant of probate using the Registrar’s small estate procedures. Requirements vary from registrar to registrar and they will be able to guide you.

Angard Carrick, This Is Money said: If you suspect that your father may have more shares, but you’re not sure what they are, it’s worth revisiting his paperwork.

Even if you don’t get share certificates, there may be old dividend vouchers or annual statements that can give you details on his other investments.

These documents are most likely to contain information about the registrar, but even if they are not, you can easily find the information on the Internet.

Holt says: ‘If you can’t find any paperwork at all, but still suspect there are shares, you can ask a firm of probate experts to assist you, as they will have access to professional missing property searches, which are frequent. T is directly available to the public.’

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