Answers for the beginner, the befuddled and anyone hitting a brick wall.
Q. I have a bunch of old stock certificates from my great-grandfather and I'm having a hard time figuring out what the companies are called now, or even if they exist any more. How can I find out if these are worth anything?
A. We turned to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for help with this question (www.sec.gov/). According to the SEC, old stock certificates may be valuable even if the company name has vanished from the market; the company may have merged with another one or changed its name. The SEC recommends these reference guides, available in many libraries (or in your stockbroker's office), to trace the "family tree" of old stocks: