Bringing an end to a 9-year dividend battle

December 3, 2012 8:05:19 PM PST
Gladys Shaw's mother died in 2003. Nine years later, she was still battling to get the dividend checks Exxon Mobil continued to send in her mother's name.

Before her mom Alsacia died in 2003, she named Gladys the executor of her will and left her only child all her assets. Everything went smoothly, except for one nagging issue with some dividend checks from Exxon Mobil.

"I couldn't cash the checks because they were always issued in my mother's name. We would write to them and then they would reissue the checks again, but always in my mother's name," Gladys said.

ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson says this is a dilemma he's seen before. "There's a legal solution and there's a practical solution. Unfortunately the two don't necessarily go together," Johnson said.

The legal solution would have been for Gladys to go to probate court. But that can be expensive and for small amounts is not always practical.

"The practical solution that people sometimes adopt is just to forge the decedent's name and cash the checks themselves. That's not advised. That can get you in a lot of trouble," Johnson said.

Instead, Gladys sent all her documentation to Exxon Mobil's transfer agent, a company called Computershare. She sent them the death certificate. She sent them the last will and testament. But nothing was enough.

"They simply reiterated that it was their policy that they couldn't do anything about it because they had to only issue the check in the name of the deceased," Gladys said.

Johnson says Computershare was following the law.

So nine years after the death of her mother, Gladys had a brainstorm and contacted 7 On Your Side for help.

The 7 On Your Side office called Computershare. The company responded by e-mail: "Computershare is committed to the security of investors so we do require legal processes be followed to ascertain true ownership. In rare instances, this process may not be as quick as someone would want."

Computershare finally sent a check in Gladys's name for nearly $1,400.

Gladys is delighted. "I'm delighted to have gotten that check and I wish other people could also benefit in the way that I have," she said.

According to Johnson, others will continue to experience this same problem unless changes in the law are made.


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