The good news is your Bell Atlantic stock is worth cash. The bad news is, unless you have a huge number of shares, your stock isn't worth millions. As of 2012, Bell Atlantic is part of another communication company, but its stock still has value. When you've cashed your old stock, the certificate, also has some additional worth as historic scripophily -- a fancy term for cancelled stock.
Old Stock Certificates
Cashed certificates sometimes feature ink stamps noting cancellations or embossing or cuts in the paper showing the date of the official cash transfer. Some businesses type the date of the stock sale or cash transfer on the back of the certificate. If the stock shows no evidence of transactions or transfers, you can get cash value for it as long as the company stays in business.
The catch with Bell Atlantic stock is the company no longer operates under this name, but the company continues to conduct business as Verizon. Bell Atlantic became Verizon in September 2000. Since the company still operates, you're in luck for cashing out your stock value.
Your Bell Atlantic stock was worth approximately $52 in May 2012. If you owned the stock since 1986, there's additional good news. Bell Atlantic issued a two-for-one stock split in 1986, 1990 and again in 1998. This means for every share you own, you received a second share -- and additional profit. The split stock is worth the same as the original stock.
Bell Atlantic also issued dividend checks based on stock shares. If you didn't receive these payments, talk to your stockbroker or financial manager. If you don't have a personal stock liaison, write a letter directly to the company explaining the loss of dividend checks and request the checks be reissued. Consult your state's unclaimed property website to see if your unclaimed dividends checks ended up with that office. If they did, follow the directions from your state treasurer or controller's office to claim your dividends. They total less than $2 for a single share, but the total unclaimed cash might just buy you a nice meal.
Companies rarely issue new stocks on paper. Businesses employ electronic bookkeeping called book-entry form to keep stock records. You can sell any stock that as your name on the front showing you're the official owner. Fill out the information on the back of the certificate, then contact the company's transfer agent for the sales procedure. That's still not enough. You'll need a notary to confirm your identify, then you'll need to return the stock certificate in person to exchange it for cash.
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- California State Controller's Office: Unclaimed Property Main Page
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- Scripophily: Scripophily 101 -- Basic Information Every Collector of Old Stock Certificates Should Know
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