Dear Harry: We just discovered some stock certificates that showed that my late mother owned stock in the old PSFS Savings Bank. I think the bank merged and went bankrupt or something a number of years ago. Was the stock ever redeemed? If so, how do I go about getting her money? If not, are the shares worth anything today?
What Harry says: What a pity that we lost that venerable institution. It dated way back into the early 19th century, and was a stalwart of safe banking through the Great Depression. At one point in its history, PSFS was "forced" to merge with another savings bank that appeared to some to be on its knees. Many still think the terms of that merger were so unfavorable to PSFS that it would have trouble surviving. A bit later, under stronger doubts as to its mortality, PSFS was merged with Mellon and then disappeared from the scene. Through all of this, the stockholders had little to say. There was a legal action by some shareholders questioning the government's actions. It is still not completely resolved. Many of the old shares are still owned by the original holders, one of whom was apparently your mother. I have been told that some speculators are offering 50 cents a share. The executor of your mother's estate can offer the shares for sale through a stockbroker. I hope you can get more than 50 cents.