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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 111468
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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A family in China seeks to recover funds or successor shares

Customer Question

A family in China seeks to recover funds or successor shares from shares owned by a family in a legacy company of a major US oil company. In the 1920s or 1930s, a family member (an industrialist located in China) purchased shares in either Legacy Company #1 or Legacy Company #2 of the major US oil company. Many years ago Legacy Company #1 acquired Legacy Company #2, and Legacy Company #2 shareholders had 3 years to exchange their shares for Legacy Company #1 shares or the shares would presumably be remitted to the a state agency for uncollected property.
The stock certificate had been destroyed in 1970s. Bank of China officials had visited the family in to inform them about the tremendous value of the shares held in Legacy Company #2 (the name of the legacy company spoken of is not clear from recollection and it could also be a predecessor name of Legacy Company #1). The visit prompted the father of the family to destroy the stock certificate for fear of associating the family with external capitalism.
The family is unable to provide documentation or further information including which year the shares were purchased, in what quantity, and through which brokerage and location of brokerage.
QUESTION 1: How do we get further information about the shares? I understand writing a request letter to the transfer agent of the major oil company would likely be the first step. Is there anything that should not be disclosed to avoid latches or other defenses? Are there other methods of gaining information besides writing to the transfer agent?
QUESTION 2: What would be the procedure for either recovering funds from the state unclaimed property agency if the shares had been remitted by the company or acquire shares from the successor company, the current major US oil company, from ownership of the shares in the legacy company?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
This is a difficult situation for anyone because without proof of the information it is pretty tough to track these things down. Of course, the common sense thing is writing the company and providing the name of the person who purchased the shares to have them check their records. The only other place to check would possibly be the secretary of state in the state where the company was located, since that is where unclaimed funds are sent.
In trying to collect unclaimed funds from the secretary of state (State Escheator in DE if this was a DE corporation), they require proof of identity, death and proof of heirship (probate court order) to identify you as the party entitled to those funds.

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