Accessing the shares of late relatives

on   /   in Investors Forum 12:33 am   /   Comments

BY BABAJIDE KOMOLAFE

A lot of shareholders passed away without adequately handing over their investment portfolios to any relative. In fact in many instances, relatives of the shareholder may not even be aware of such investment. The worst case is when the late shareholder did not keep records of such investment and the relative only know when they began to receive dividend warrants posted to that late shareholder.

That is when they began to realise that the late relative has investment in shares and hence began to find ways to retrieve or claim the shares. But the problem is they don’t even know anything about shares or how to reclaim shares of late relatives. This is reflected in the enquiry from a reader who asked, “Please my late father has shares with UTC Nigeria Plc and NTC Limited. I have the certificates with me. How can I go about it?

So how can you reclaim the shares of a late relative? Take note that when we say reclaim, it does not mean that you transfer the ownership of the shares to yourself. It only means having authority to manage those shares on behalf of the late relative. In other words, the shares continue to be in the name of the deceased.

Secondly, the process or procedure for reclaiming or having authority to manage the hares of a late relative is the same as that of having authority to manage his/her properties i.e land, houses, bank accounts etc.

After all shares are parts of the property the deceased shareholder left behind. Also the process is a legal process involving the court, hence you need the services of a lawyer. To reclaim, manage or administer the shares or properly of a late relative, you need a document called ‘Letter of Administration’ approved by a High Court.

The letter is written by a lawyer, based on the instruction of the family or representative of the family of the late shareholder. The letter will contain list and value of all the shares and properties of the deceased. It will also contain names of at least two people who will be nominated by the family to administer the shares. The Letter of Administration basically applies to the court to confer authority on the nominated relatives the power to administer the shares or properties of the deceased shareholder.

Upon receipt of the letter, the court will do an independent valuation of the listed shares or properties for the purpose of determining the capital gain tax that should be paid on the shares. There are two implications from the above. The first is, before applying for the Letter of Administration, the family of the deceased must first appoint a lawyer, and then nominate the those will administer the shares or property of the deceased.

The second implication is that the family must take time to find out all the properties and investment of the deceased and get appropriate professionals to value them. Now this can be a herculean task for a lot of families, especially if the deceased did not keep meticulous record of his properties and investments. It is a situation that is aggravated where the deceased also did not acquaint any relative with his affairs. To be continued next week.

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