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Jewish World Review August 23, 1999 /11 Elul, 5759

Bruce Williams

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Finding out the value of old stocks -- DEAR BRUCE: My grandfather went to Alaska in 1895. While there, he purchased six stock certificates for $1,000 each from a Nome company called Home Stake Mining and Transportation, and passed them on to me. The certificates are written on a high-quality paper. Between 1962 and 1965 I drove exploratory wells for mineral rights in Battle Mountain, Nev., for a company which employed me as a directional engineer. I was informed at that time that Home Stake became New Mountain Mining. Could you supply me with any information or perhaps assist me on where I could obtain further information on these stock certificates? -- J.L., Las Vegas, Nev.

DEAR J.L.: The Securities and Exchange Commission can help you track down the value, if any, of these certificates. You can call the SEC at (800) SEC-0330, or visit their Web site at

DEAR BRUCE: My wife and I own some property and have saved some money. We have only one heir -- do we need a will? -- B.H., Harryman, Tenn.

DEAR B.H.: You bet your life you do! It is far more expensive to die without a will then with one. Further, since you are husband and wife, you have to make a decision whether your estate is to pass directly to the surviving spouse and then on to the heir, presumably the offspring. There is no substitute for a will, and you certainly should get one. It should be properly drawn by an attorney of your choosing.

DEAR BRUCE: My father died, leaving a life insurance policy of $335,000 with me as beneficiary. My father's total estate should be worth just under $650,000, but unfortunately, he died without a will. I have four siblings, and I want to split this estate with them. -- G.B., Montague, Mich.

DEAR G.B.: You would be advised to check with an accountant who is familiar with your income and other considerations. Having said that, the money from the insurance policy came directly to you, and any division of that money will be a taxable event. You might consider this: If your siblings are married, you may give $10,000 to each sibling and $10,000 to his or her spouse in any one year. In four years, you will have gifted the money to each of your siblings and their spouses without any tax. If one or more of them are not married, then this gifting would stretch out to eight years. Another alternative would be to claim against your lifetime estate, depending on how old you are and how much money you have. You certainly wouldn't want to jeopardize your heirs' ability to receive the bulk of your estate without paying taxes by this act of generosity.

Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).


08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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