How do I cash expired coupon bonds in Canada?
June 8, 2014 11:03 PM   Subscribe

Help me, Mifi hivemind! You're my only hope! My Dad died in December 2012. He was a hoarder who often lost track of his money (and other things too). No surprise, he left a rather tangled estate, including twenty uncashed coupon bonds. All are long past maturity; I know that they stopped earning interest as soon as they matured, and probably we won't be able to get the interest, either. But I'd like to get the principal if possible, and I'm having a hard time finding out if they're redeemable at all.

He had uncashed Canada Savings Bonds too, but those are still legal tender, and I'm working on them with the bank. Also, the will has been probated and the estate can be distributed, so there's no problem there.

The ones I'm asking about are private company bonds, sold through the banks and labeled "redeemable at any branch of the *insert name here* bank". They're often called 'Sinking fund Debentures'. Most matured in the 80s, some in the 1990s. They were issued by Royal Bank of Canada, Ontario Hydro, Silverwood Dairies, Domtar, Trans Canada Pipeline and other firms. Some of these (Ontario Hydro, the Royal Bank) are still in business. Others have been absorbed, sold, or have simply died. Some of the bonds have old-style clippable coupons. They are not really bearer bonds, as they've all got his name on them and they're registered with someone, somewhere. They look like this, and like this on the back.

Two stockbrokers' vault departments can't deal with them, since they're not stocks, and the banks that I've taken them to have no idea what they are. Most stock search places will only trace stocks, not bonds. I think they have not yet been redeemed, as you had to surrender the certificate or get it 'cancelled' (stamped, punched or pierced) to do that.

Does anyone have any idea how to redeem them? Do I contact the companies directly? Is there a particular office I can deal with in the major banks?

And I do know about Scriptopoly, but I'd like to see if we can get some money from the still-existing companies that Dad gave cash to back in 1974.
posted by jrochest to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was an executrix. I used a lawyer for all these kinds of tricky questions. I had a list and asked methodically to keep it cheaper. Lawyers, at the right time, for the right reasons, are worth their weight in gold.
posted by taff at 1:22 AM on June 9, 2014

Nope, my lawyer (one of three) has no clue.
posted by jrochest at 2:09 AM on June 9, 2014

I would try the issuing companies (maybe start with the ones that haven't been absorbed or gone out of business). They may have a department of investor relations that can at least point you in the right direction. From the companies point of view, you are a creditor, so they should be at least somewhat motivated to help you out.
posted by crocomancer at 4:08 AM on June 9, 2014

Does it say who the trustee or agent is on them? That industry has massively consolidated so you'll need to figure out who bought that business.

Barring that try to find the successor companies and contact their shareholder relations people. Barring that contact their investor relations if they don't have a shareholder relations team.

You might need to visit a library to gain access to a database of M&A that would allow you to trace the successor.
posted by JPD at 6:46 AM on June 9, 2014

I'm 98% sure this has happened to somebody else in Canada, sometime in the past, and that person went to court about it. So a lawyer should be able to find out what happened by researching the decisions, and tell you what things mattered in that / those old case[s]. Then you examine your situation, and for all the things that you don't yet know, you set about finding them out.

Many of those things will be the responsibility of the issuing entity, so you'll have to ask them. Do so in writing, and keep the replies you get back. (Bear in mind that "they refused to answer" is a thing that may be in your favor, so you want to be able to prove that, if it happens.)

Finally, take all the things you find out back to the lawyer who did the research, and you should be able to decide whether and how to get your dad's money.

posted by spacewrench at 6:47 AM on June 9, 2014

I'll admit, I had no idea what these were, but your question piqued my interest. So I used my google-fu.

I suspect that you'll have to call each entity separately for redemption information. Google name of company investor relations, and that will bring you to a number. Chances are, you'll stump the chumps, BUT insist that they find someone who knows, and who can assist you.

Ontario Hydro--800-263-7965 or 905-433-6128

Client Support for RBC Investments.

Silverwood got sold to Ault, which was sold to Sealtest and Parmalat, and some assets were sold to Agropur. I dunno about that one.

For Domtar, try their Investor Relations department:

Nicholas Estrela
Manager, Investor Relations
Phone: 514-848-5555

Here is information for Trans-Canada Pipeline:

Investor Relations

Phone: 1.403.920.7911
1.800.361.6522 (Toll-free within North America)

450 - 1st Street S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2P 5H1

Transfer Agent for Common and Preferred Shares
Computershare Trust Company of Canada

1.800.340.5024 (Toll-free within North America)
1.514.982.7959 (outside North America)

1.888.453.0330 (Toll-free within North America)
1.416.263.9394 (outside North America)

100 University Ave. 9th floor
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5J 2Y1

It's going to be a bit of legwork, but you should be able to get what you need.

Good Luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:12 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think the trustees are your first route. The companies would have transferred the money to them already.
posted by JPD at 7:26 AM on June 9, 2014

Yeah, I think check the trustees first too. Looks like the certificate says that Montreal Trust Company is the trustee. According to Wikipedia, Montreal Trust Company's stock transfer and corporate trust business was bought by Computershare. So try Computershare. I think that'll just get you the principal amount, though. Maybe talking to the issuer directly will get you farther with the interest payments (I would think that's still an outstanding obligation for the issuer), if the bank (i.e. Bank of Montreal) can't help.
posted by odin53 at 8:28 AM on June 9, 2014

OP - please let us know what happens. I'm really interested to hear how you get treated and if you are successful/what sort of bizarre successor entities you ended up having to deal with.
posted by JPD at 10:23 AM on June 9, 2014

Thanks, guys: Hurray Metafilter! You've provided more leads than I've had in 3 months :)

I will talk to Computershare: didn't realize that they had bought Montreal Trust, who seem to have been Dad's go-to people for these kinds of bonds.

I'll try both the issuers and the trustees: I've figured out who some of the buyers have been (Silverwood is now owned by Almentation Couch-Tard). And I really appreciate the advice to put it all in writing.

There's not that much in value here: enough to go on a hunt for, but not enough to stop my life while I do so. So I'll be pecking away over some months, but I will post on this thread and let you know how it's going.
posted by jrochest at 12:37 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I found this link on Compounding bonds. I don't know if that helps any.

The second photo says "redeemable at any branch of (x) bank" and also says "filed at the office of..." I would contact both.

I worked for an insurance company for over five years. Most of what we did was done via computer and when someone submitted honest to god paper forms, not everyone knew how to process those. By law, the company still had to process it. I later worked on a newly formed team for solving problem child files. It involved a lot of research and I often buttonholed smart people who had been around the company a long time and knew obscure information about how things used to get done.

So what I am telling you is, as politely as possible, you need to insist that these bank branches are responsible for figuring out how to pay you the money due. The papers say "redeemable at..." The fact that no one there has seen one in 20 years does not relieve them of their obligation to honor this contract. Someone, somewhere knows how these are dealt with. Or someone needs to dig up the information.

Be polite and respectful and patient. Keep showing up and calling and talking to people until you find someone who either knows what the heck to do or has the authority to make a decision/authorize payment in spite of no one knowing what the heck to do.
posted by Michele in California at 12:39 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

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