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Ask Money

Help! Missing bonds!

Marketplace Staff May 6, 2013
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Question:

I am currently in probate a safety deposit box is missing it contained paper bearer bonds and paper savings bonds. How do I follow the paper trail?

Response:

Paddy Hirsch May 6, 2013 Senior Editor, Marketplace
Ouch.

OK, you’ve got two types of bonds here, the savings bonds and the bearer bonds. The savings bonds could be replaceable. They’re either I bonds or EE bonds, depending on the vintage, but either way, thay can be replaced when lost.

Go to TreasuryDirect. It’s part of the Treasury, and it bills itself as “the first and only financial services website that lets you buy and redeem securities directly from the U.S. Department of the Treasury in paperless electronic form.”

The procedure for replacing both I and EE bonds is the same. Fill out the correct form and mail it in to the Treasury. You can find instructions and links to the form here. The lost bonds are now the property of the Treasury, and you’ll need to mail them back if you find them.

The bearer bonds are a different story, I’m afraid. Your only hope is if the bond is registered. If not….this from Wikipedia (with my italics):

A bearer bond is a debt security issued by a business entity, such as a corporation, or by a government. It differs from the more common types of investment securities in that it is unregistered – no records are kept of the owner, or the transactions involving ownership. Whoever physically holds the paper on which the bond is issued owns the instrument. This is useful for investors who wish to retain anonymity. Recovery of the value of a bearer bond in the event of its loss, theft, or destruction is usually impossible.

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