Dear Dr. Don,
I recently found a 30-year Ginnie Mae bond my father purchased in October 1986 for $25,000 at 8.5 percent interest. I have never seen a check for any interest.

My father passed away in 2001 and my mother passed away March 3, 2008. Please give me any information you can about this bond. I also need to know how I can transfer the name from my father and mother to my brother and me once it is probated.

Bella Bondholder

Dear Bella,
Odds are that this bond paid off while your father was still alive. GNMA, or Ginnie Mae, is a government agency that issues conventional debentures and mortgage-backed securities — so-named because they are backed by pools of mortgages. A conventional debenture would have a stated maturity date on the bond.

The mortgage-backed debt returned principal and interest as homeowners made their monthly mortgage payments. Refinancing, sales or additional principal payments shortened the life of the mortgage-backed loans. The typical mortgage in the ’80s had an average life of no more than seven to 12 years and it’s unlikely that a mortgage-backed pool from 1986 would still be outstanding.

A bond issue has a Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures number, or CUSIP. The number identifies the bond issue. It is a nine-digit code permanently assigned to the issue and typically printed on the face of the physical security. Know the CUSIP and you can track the security. Your physical security should have its CUSIP number listed on it.

Contact GNMA’s
investor relations department to learn more about the security in your possession. If the issue is still outstanding, that department will be able to help you with changing the registration on the bond.

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