A Columbus widow is suing L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works (and originally known as The Limited, Inc.), claiming that she inherited $1.5 million of stock that L Brands refuses to acknowledge. Her late husband,a bricklayer, allegedly purchased 50 shares of The Limited Stores in 1976 after receiving a stock tip from a client. His widow claims his stock certificate for 50 shares is an original certificate and is now worth $1.5 million after 7 stock splits and 40 years of unpaid dividends. The company has not yet responded in court.
Several practical points:
1. I detest stock certificates – they are easily lost during the client’s life and difficult to transfer after the client’s death. I always advise my clients to own stock in a brokerage account rather than in certificated form.
2. I also always advise my clients to list all of their financial accounts/assets and place the list with their estate planning documents. This assists their children with settling their estates by providing them knowledge of which assets they own and must locate.
3. If the stock market continues on its current trajectory, this battle might be moot because the shares will be worthless.