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Life-estate stock shares? Come, now

Posted: Sunday, October 29, 2006

I almost fell over belly laughing when I received my latest correspondence from my regional Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act corporation. Life-estate stock shares to after-borns? Come on, now.

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So now, as an original issue shareholder, I have what is essentially "preferred stock." Hmm, I suppose this means I have first shot at money never paid in dividends? What's left for these "life-estate shares?" Another example of why these ANCSA entities are nothing but self-serving business enterprises whose only existence seems to perpetuate the enrichment of the administrators. Now they're pandering to current shareholders' desire to consider "doing something" to include after-borns. How are these entities different from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs?

It is a false choice to consider life-estate shares over any other alternative. The only reasonable solution would be for shareholders to decide for themselves what the continued value of these ANCSA entities or shares mean to them. Is it financial or is it cultural? I suggest it's cultural - Juneau already maintains the Alaska State Museum. If financial, well, now there's a thought. I wonder how much the "open market" would value these existing shares? I would be happy to take $1 and call it good. Life-estate shares seem an insult to the intelligence of the "owners." Regional "urban" shareholders are de facto "preferred stockholders" now. Life-estate shares? What next? The imagination knows no boundaries.

By the way, life-estate means you "own it until you die," then the stock goes back to the grantor. It has no value now; what will it be worth when you die?

Torvald Knudson

Sherwood, Ore.

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