Determine the value of an old stock certificate on your own by conducting online research. If your research is unsuccessful, hire a company or consult your broker to assist in researching the stock. If research reveals that the company is still in business, a transfer agent can tell you the exact value of the stock. Stock certificates with no market value may still have value as collectible items.
- Conduct company research
Conduct a basic web search on a financial website such as Hoover's to determine if the company is still in existence and, if so, its current stock value. If it is not, research the company listed on the stock certificate by checking the Directory of Obsolete Securities or the Robert D. Fisher Manual of Valuable and Worthless Securities at your public library. Additionally, search for the company in the Directory of Obsolete Securities on the Library of Congress website. These sites can tell you what happened to the company. For example, if the company went out of business due to bankruptcy, the certificate has no value. However, if the company was sold, the certificate may still have value depending on the terms of the sale. Some companies, such as Stock Search International and Scripophily, research stocks for customers for a fee.
- Attain proof of ownership
Proof of ownership is required to collect any value from an old stock certificate. If the certificate was issued to you, then all you need is your identification. However, if the certificate was issued to a deceased family member, you need a copy of the death certificate and proof that you are the legal heir.
- Contact a transfer agent
Call the transfer agent who issued the old stock certificate if the agent is still in business. If not, contact a transfer agent through your own brokerage company. This person tells you the exact value of stock and transfers it into your brokerage account.
- Check for value as a collectible item
If the stock has tradable value, use a paid service such as R. M. Smythe, Stock Search International or Scripophily to check for its value as a collectible item.