I have contacted US Computershare, the transfer agent for LIBERTY LATIN AMERICA LTD. The deceased held shares in LIBERTY LATIN AMERICA which I want transferred to a UK beneficiary.
US Computershare have an original grant of probate but this is insufficient evidence for them, particularly as its not dated within the last 60 days.
They require transfer forms completed which have to be stamped with a Medallion Signature Guarantee stamp provided by an eligible institution.
They say that the Medallion Signature Guarantee stamp must be provided by an eligible institution, such as a commercial bank, trust company, national bank, credit union, brokerage firm, etc., that is participating in a Medallion Guarantee Program such as STAMP, SEMP, MSP or other Securities Transfer Association Inc. (STA) approved Medallion Program. The Medallion Guarantee is NOT the same as a Notary Public notarization.
Where can I obtain a Medallion Guarantee stamp ? Is there a UK list of institutions participating in this scheme?
Lester Aldridge (Oliver Phipps or his team) can help with this.
Thanks Lee. That is very helpful.
The other problem I have is that the value of the shares in question are worth less than the cost of administering the process to comply with getting a Medallion Signature Guarantee stamp provided by an eligible institution.
So in this case I perhaps will have to recommend abandonment of the assets.
Its a pity the US processes are not as user friendly as the UK processes.
However the information will be very useful in the future for higher value estates.
I often have conversations with estate practitioner clients about the potential for abandonment of very low value US listed securities like these, that are worth less than the cost of a Medallion Guarantee stamp. While it’s not my call, and views differ, it’s a valid conversation to have with the estate administrators. Liberty and Vodafone spinoff Verizon come up a lot, and are often very low in value due to the terms of the deal that created them. Some estates want the closure, or feel they have to act, and instruct us to go ahead anyway, and either transfer the shares out of the Deceased’s name, or just have the stamp affixed to the transfer form; while others are concerned about throwing good money after bad and take a view on preserving the estate residue.
Abandonment of US securities will eventually lead the shares and any dividends to escheat – assets are flagged as dormant or abandoned, and passed to the Unclaimed Property department of the US State in which the company incorporates. Any shares are usually liquidated so what remains to be claimed – in perpetuity – is a cash sum that never changes and pays out no interest. Meanwhile post might keep coming over to the address the transfer agent has on file for years; but if the estate representatives take no action then the shares will, eventually, escheat, leaving the shareholder account inactive.
Sometimes it is not about the money, more about sentimental value and principles about not allowing another jurisdiction just to essentially force abandonment because they are inflexible in their rules. This is the case with these shares in Liberty Latin America.
It is interesting that the equivalent in the UK, Liberty Global, managed by UK Computershare, have not been a problem at all!
Its only US Computershare who manages Liberty Latin America, where they must enforce the US rules where there has been a problem. Not even UK Computershare could help me!, they just give me their US Computershare number/address and sympathise with me!
The feelings of the beneficiaries are that I should complete the transfer forms (without the medallion stamp but with an original grant of probate) and send this off. Clearly this will fail but correspondence with US Computershare will delay the 'abandonment process’.
Then we will wait for a time when the US come to their senses and introduce a more customer friendly cost-effective process. We may have to wait a long time!
Sometimes it is just not about the money but taking into account the sentiments of the family/beneficiaries.
Many thanks again.
We deal with US (and other) shares all the time, and I agree with the other comments so far, but if the Liberty Latin America shares are worth less than US$10,000 Computershare will usually waive the Medallion requirement. Liberty Latin America is a nightmare because of the small number of shares involved - it is a typical american rip off on honest long term shareholders of the former company just to wipe them out.
As for escheatment, this will usually be to Delaware. They also are just incompetent and lose documents and then take 90 days to reply to anything. We have been forced to say to clients we will help you make the claim (it can be done online), but chasing is for the client. We have not had clients receive any cheque from Delaware for years. Even complaints just get ignored.
You have to file all the usual documents with Computershare USA (not UK - which deals with Liberty Global and will sell the Liberty Global shares for you - cheaper than using the usual brokers) - Aff of Domicile; Form W-8BEN and W-8BEN-E; as well as a sealed and certified copy of the Grant (not a sealed copy, but certified by the Probate Registry (Form PA1S is the form to use for such purpose). This takes months in these covid times, so make sure this is the last document to be obtained prior to sending everything off to Computershare for processing as then you will be within the 60 days.
As for the Medallions, Fraser & Fraser also offer Medallions (contact their Sally Morgan).
Be aware that any cheque from Computershare USA will be in the name of the deceased and so you will have another nightmare banking the same. Computershare USA will NOT issue cheques to law firms or the Executors so you have the deal with the local UK banks to cash the same.
Peter Double / Probate Resealing Services
Fully agree it is an American rip off on honest long-term shareholders of the former company just to wipe them out. I can see from the previous correspondence I have that there was litigation started on behalf of shareholders of Cable and Wireless a few years ago.
The shares in question are one share Class A worth about $14 and two Class C worth about $30
However, it is about the principles of fairness (not the money), so will be sending the transfer documents first without the medallion signature guarantee but with a grant of probate and hopefully they will accept under the 'less than $10,000’ potential precedent.
The beneficiaries would like the shares in one of their names, rather than to sell.
As regards UK Computershare (re: Liberty Global), they were very helpful, and this has all been registered under their Corporate Sponsored Nominee service.
Thanks again for your quick response.
Given this some more thought and tried to think of a solution that is rationale, robust, simple to apply and cost effective!
I noticed that there are two reciprocal agreements in place between the UK Government and US Government:
Reciprocal agreements - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
US-UK RDP MOU signed 22 Dec 2017 USA003826-17.pdf (osd.mil)
In the latter agreement they have a reciprocal auditing agreement where neither party will duplicate the work of the other. This seems very sensible!
So got me thinking just where did the ‘medallion signature’ process come from and who makes money from it?
Also why is there no reciprocal agreement in place between UK Probate Courts and US Probate Courts, and what is the process for lobbying to get a change in process (including acceptance of grant of probate documents after the 60 day period (US Computershare dont accept after this 60 day period from date of issue)) ?
The English Probate Registry has enough difficulty just issuing grants of probate right now. If they were to try to negotiate international agreements, their heads might explode.
Hi Andrew. Agreed! Looks like we will need to review this one in the future.