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A long time ago, my mother employer's offered discounted stock as part of its compensation plan. Her brother gave her a small sum of money so that she could buy some stock for him. She did this, the stock in her name, and intermingled with some she purchased for herself. Now, 50 years later, he's making subtle references to this, but he hasn't come out and asked about it.

Assuming he does actually ask, and I don't tell him to go pound sand, I'm wondering:

  • Is there any way to determine the stock price when the stock was purchased?
  • The company split up into several companies which have split as well. She now holds stock in many of these. Is there a resource for would help me with this, stock-wise?
  • Similarly, the stocks themselves have undergone many splits. How could I figure this out?
  • How could I determine the dividends paid over this period?

My presumption is that he's about 40 years too late to make any serious claim, but thought it was an interesting problem and maybe one that accountants or lawyers run into from time to time. Also, I'd love to find out exactly how much money he thinks she 'owes' him.

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    "the stock in her name"... Houston, we have a problem. – RonJohn Jun 19 at 19:56
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    While it's out-of-scope for a personal finance & money site to talk about ethics, I'd strongly urge you to pay your uncle what he's due while he's still alive. You will regret it otherwise. However, he did benefit from a discounted stock price that was not available to him, and you/your mom did manage the investment for him. I'd say trace the stock splits, spin-offs, etc and find out what it's worth. But the dividends earned should be compensation for your and mom for the service rendered to him. – Zesty Jun 19 at 20:24
  • @Zesty I applaud your bringing up ethics. But...it doesn't sound as though any managing was done. If managing had been done, the OP would have records to help with this tangle. So I don't think the dividends should be taken off the table. – ab2 Jun 19 at 20:36
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    What's the name of the company and approximate day of purchase? – Norgate Data Jun 19 at 22:52
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The company or stock transfer agent should have maintained records to whom it sold stock to and the price (particularly if it were discounted).

Technically your mother would have been a constructive trustee, and your uncle would have a beneficial interest in that stock (though the specifics would need to be confirmed by a local lawyer).

He would need to show the amounts he gave her to buy the stock and the approximate dates, assuming she did not keep records.

Is there any way to determine the stock price when the stock was purchased?

The company should be able to provide this information.

The company split up into several companies which have split as well. She now holds stock in many of these. Is there a resource for would help me with this, stock-wise?

Ultimately the resulting positions would be held in your Mother's account. Some financial information websites will list the corporate actions. My go to resource would be the CACS (Corporate Actions) screen on a Bloomberg Terminal (my public library has one).

Similarly, the stocks themselves have undergone many splits. How could I figure this out?

Again, this is available on Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, etc.

How could I determine the dividends paid over this period?

Again, this is available on Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, etc.

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Tracking down the history of stock splits and well as corporate splits over the course of 50 years is a real chore. Assuming that the parent company and the spin offs still exist, you can Google for the stock split history. You might get lucky with that. As an example, IBM offers 55 years of split info.

You'll have to Google for the details of the spin offs and then search and adjust for their splits, if any.

You'll also have to determine if there was any M&A for any of these, be they acquirers or the acquired.

And then there are the dividends. Were they reinvested? Spent?

Another approach might be to contact the transfer agent assigned by the parent company maintain investor records. They might provide a lot of this info. Given the spin offs, it might involve several transfer agents.

As Ron John suggested,"Houston, we have a problem." This could involve multiple spreadsheets, depending on the number of spin offs and acquisitions.

The path of least resistance might just be to guesstimate the percent of the original position that his initial funding represents and use that to determine his share of current value. This assumes that your mother did not make additional purchases or subsequent sales of shares.

I once did something far simpler than this for a family member who owned GE for 20+ years with multiple stock splits, dividend reinvestment, some spin offs, and a few small sales of stock. Even with all of the statements, it was a real chore. I don't envy you this task.

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Your mother definitely owes her brother something. Whether it is legally collectible after all this time, I can't say.

Presumably she has deposited, and continues to deposit, the dividends, so the place to start the research is in her current and old records of bank deposits. Also, if the dividends are still coming in, even if she doesn't keep old bank records, she has current data coming in with her current mail.

If you know the name of the original company, a broker could trace splits, prices and dividends. You also need to know how the original purchase was split between your uncle and your mother, and how much, if anything, your mother bought for herself after the original purchase.

You can start the long overdue process of making restitution to your uncle by splitting the dividends as they come in now, either in proportion to his and your mother's original investment, or, possibly you may want to start on repaying him, with interest, for the 50 years of his share of dividends he has not received.

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