Compushare is a financial company that many corporations use as the custodian for small shareholders with odd numbers of share that may be constantly increasing. For example, a publicly traded company may award a small number of shares on a regular basis to employees who are not big shots. Or a company may have a Dividend Re-investment Plan (DRIP) whereby shareholders can invest their dividends at a discount. For example, if you use your dividend to re-invest in shares you may get to buy at a 5% discount. To illustrate, suppose a company pays a $1.00 per quarter dividend and has a DRIP. If you re-invest your $1.00 dividend in stock the company will give you $1.05 in stock instead of the $1.00 in cash. Compushare is usually the custodian for such plans.
The trouble with Compushare holdings in probate is that Compushare’s customers are giant corporations, not ordinary people. My probate clients, once they get appointed Administrator or Executor of estates, find Compushare incredibly difficult to deal with. Compushare has all sort of forms to fill out and then demands Exemplified Copies of the Letters Testamentary (or of Administration) and the Order appointing the Executor or Administrator that are within 60 days of being issued. In Las Vegas a lawyer or other person can walk into the Clerk’s office and get Certified Copies over the counter on demand or by e-mail, but Exemplified Copies are special order items that often take a couple of weeks to get and often are dated a week or two before receipt. Also, Compushare may require Gold Medallion signatures which can be hard to get.
In contrast, financial companies that market to ordinary people, such as Schwab, Wells Fargo, etc., usually do not require Exemplified Copies and are much easier to deal with.
I have clients that sometimes simply give up trying to collect the value of shares held by Compushare if they are not worth that much and clients that get extremely frustrated jumping through all of the hoops that Compushare sets up to redeem shares in a probate proceeding.
If as an Executor of Administrator you have to deal with Compushare, I advise the following:
Call them before doing anything, try to get the name of the person you are talking to, and write down all of what they require and their deadlines.
Then plan your attempt to cash out the shares when you won’t have interruptions such as vacations etc., then call me for the Exemplified Letters and Order so as soon as I get them and send them to you, you can complete the application to Compushare before Compushare decides the Exemplified copies are out of date.
For your own estate planning, cash out of Compushare holding before you die and save your family a huge hassle. If you want to re-invest dividends in stock holding (which is often a smart plan) consumer friendly companies like Schwab which will do this for you for free but without the discount.