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Tracking down lost certificates for shares my dead father bought

There is a process for finding them but it will take time and effort

About 15 years ago, my father purchased 1,000 Bank of Ireland shares (at a small price then). Unfortunately, soon afterwards he passed away, the share certificate was mislaid and never found.

The family home has since been sold so the address at the time is no longer relevant. There must be many unclaimed shares from various companies and financial institutions around the country. What becomes of them? Is it possible to claim the above mentioned Bank of Ireland shares? What would that procedure entail?


I suppose the only benefit of waiting 15 years to track down missing Bank of Ireland shares is that it will have given them some time to recover from the horrors of the financial crash and the subsequent bail out and nationalisation of swathes of the Irish banking system. The bad news, even if your father was still alive and despite the “small price” you say he paid for the shares, is that he would likely still be in the red after all this time.


However, seeing as how someone in the family presumably inherited the shares on his death, they may be trading at a profit if they ever get around to regularising their position.

Giving precise advice on the value of the holding is impossible given the vagueness of the dates. The shares were bought approximately 15 years ago – which could make it 2008, 2009 or a year either end of that, I guess. Bank of Ireland shares bought in 2007 before anyone realised the emperor had no clothes could have cost anywhere from €13.10 to €17.52 depending on when in the year they were bought. In 2008 the range was even worse – anything from €18.65 at their peak to a more modest €8.90.

But that was still a long way from their nadir. In 2009 Bank of Ireland shares traded between €10.48 and a low of 68 cent as awareness of the parlous state of Irish banks shredded investor confidence. By 2010 the range was 13 cent to €3.42.

To be fair, what your father paid for them is somewhat academic but the same cannot be said for the date of his death. That would have crystallised whatever loss or (most unlikely) gain he made on the investment. More importantly, it sets a new base price at which you, or whoever in the family inherited these shares, were receiving them at.

That 13 cent level was the nadir up to 2012 when the shares fell as low as seven cent, and to eight cent in 2013. Even in those years they rose as high as 42 cent (2007) and 16 cent (2013).

It matters because the price you or whoever inherited them will determine whether you are now in profit on those shares or not.

The price you see on the Euronext Irish Stock Exchange for Bank of Ireland shares these days – around the €9.10 level last week – is somewhat misleading when you look back at those prices 15 years ago. That’s because in 2017, fed up with the share languishing among the “penny stocks”, the bank oversaw a reorganisation, which was backed by shareholders, that consolidated the shares in issue.

Under this arrangement, shareholders got one new share for every 30 shares they owned previously. In your father’s case, his 1,000 old shares are now 33 new shares. It did not reduce the stake they owned in the bank as all shareholders underwent the same consolidation but it certainly affected the headline price. Where the shares were trading at 24.6 cent on a Friday (July 7th of that year), by Monday they were trading at €7.38.

On that basis the €9.10 price last week would translate to a price of 30.33 cent before the consolidation. If the shares were trading above that level on the day your father died, whoever inherited is still in the red; if they were weaker back then, the beneficiary or beneficiaries are at a profit. It values the holding at a little over €3,000 today.

There are a couple of other things to consider. First, your father’s 1,000 shares do not divide equally by 30, so the registrar that manages Bank of Ireland shares has an amount on its books owing to your dad or, more likely his successor.

The bank has also started paying dividends once again. This amounted to 11.5 cent a share in the 2017 financial year and 16 cent a share in 2018 before Covid interrupted proceedings. The bank started paying dividends in 2022 for the 2021 financial year – at five cent a share. That rose to 21 cent a share for 2022.

It announced a dividend of 60 cent per share for 2023, when it reported results on Monday.

On the basis of your father’s 33 shares, it will hardly be life changing but it is still €37.46 that the registrar holds on his account on top of the €2.46 for the bit of a share you lost out on at the time of the consolidation. So call it €40.

Share certificate replacement

If nothing else, it will help defray the inevitable costs you will incur getting the share certificate sorted out.

For this, you are going to have to contact a company called Computershare, which is the group that manages Bank of Ireland’s share register.

They will want all your dad’s personal details – his full name, the old address and telephone numbers, email address as well as the name of the company whose shares he owned, how many shares it was and his shareholder ID – the shareholder reference number.

The fact that his email, phone numbers and address are no longer active is irrelevant but you will certainly want to make them aware of any name, address, numbers and emails they should use for contact. The number of shares is obviously 1,000 as I am assuming he died well before any consolidation.

Given that he is deceased, I expect Computershare will also require a death certificate and a copy of his will to confirm who is now the beneficiary – or the executor managing his affairs (though hopefully not after all this time). And they will want all the above personal details for the beneficiary as well as some official form of ID, ideally a passport.

There will certainly be a cost involved. Computershare will charge an administration fee. It will also charge an indemnity fee to protect it in the event it issues a new share certificate and the old (now cancelled) one turns up and someone tries to use it to trade the shares.

Fees range from zero for very small holdings (under €65 worth of shares) up to as much as €450, depending on the value of the shares covered by the missing certificate.

For a holding of the size you are talking about, you could be facing fees of up to €242 for the replacement of the lost certificate.

Computershare, like a lot of these types of businesses, tends to work through online communication. They have an online communication form which is probably a good starting point at Under “category”, I would select share certificates and clarify in “enquiry details” that you are dealing with the lost certificate of a deceased shareholder.

You can also call – on 01 2475414, a dedicated number for Bank of Ireland shareholders – but you are going to need to deal with them in writing at some point so it might be easier to do so from the outset. Keep copies of all communications.

Then there is the question of whether you really want a share certificate. These are traded electronically and Computershare can keep your details on an electronic register. Even if you got a share certificate, you would have to “dematerialise” it – ie put it into electronic form to sell the shares eventually as no stockbrokers trade any more in paper certificates, and that will cost you more money.

All of this will take time, possibly a month or more, given the death of your father and the lack of any supporting physical evidence of his shareholding – such as old dividend cheque stubs, which might have his unique shareholder reference number or whatever.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street Dublin 2, or by email to This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice