How to Endorse a Check made out to a Deceased Person | Expert Guide
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Losing someone is great grief. It shatters your soul. But unfortunately, the universe doesn’t stop here; family members left behind always have a responsibility to take care of what was that of the deceased. Let’s learn how to endorse a check made out to a deceased person.
Most family members often get confused or puzzled about how to endorse their deceased’s check in a legal way. The most common form of doing so revolves around a new account as an executor. Here is how you can do it;
How to Endorse a Check made out to a Deceased Person
Check Pod Account
Your first step should be to check whether there exists a POD (payable-on-death) of the deceased person or not. If yes, then your work may become easier to handle.
A payable-on-death, also known as Totten trust, is an agreement between a client and a financial institution. The client assigns a beneficiary upon which all the client’s assets. These are transferred to that designated beneficiary after their death.
If you are the one assigned as a beneficiary, things will go easy with the bank. In this case, you just have to show your ID card, death certificate of the deceased client, and the bank hopefully will accept the check made out to the deceased client to deposit in the POD account.
Becoming an Executor
If the deceased didn’t have POD, then things would be dragged. In this case, an executor should be assigned, which is not an easy task. In the case in which a will is assigned by the deceased, one should file that will in probate court. And if no choice is assigned by the dead, he/she has died in the state. In this case, the court appoints a person called an administrator.
Do the Probation Process
The probate court issues a document called “Letter Testimony” to the administrator, a legal right given to the administrator or Executor to handle and control estate matters. A probate is a legal process after the death of one holding assets. The things you require in the probation process are:
- Showing court the will left by deceased
- Identifying the deceased’s property and assets
- Paying debts and taxes etc.
- Distributing properties according to choice.
This process is done so that the Executor can prove the will’s validity, although this is time-consuming and can be denied in court if not given proper attention. Probate attorneys are there who work and help individuals in this stuff.
Get Employer Identification Number
After longing for the probation process, you need to get an Employer Identification Number, after which you are the one handling the account.
If the will is not valid before the court, your work can become illegal. So make sure that you have a good choice and the probation process is clean before taking any action.
Revolve Estate Account
Now your next step should be to set up a new account, basically, an estate account, having some special rules which depend upon the bank holding that account, and you should have to do some paperwork too. It would be best if you also had to provide a copy of the probate work to the bank.
This can take time too, and banks can also create some longing in paperwork. The bank will then transfer all the deceased person’s assets into an estate account. This state account can be a savings account, or it can also be a checking account, in which you can transfer the deceased’s money quickly along with the normal process of withdrawal.
Write Check as an Executor
You can now write any check after the provision of a checkbook by the bank. As now you are the one controlling the account, in this case, you can write a statement quickly by signing with the same signature you have done before in documents and mentioning yourself as Executor beside that signature.
Plus, some banks will also provide you with a sense of a duplicate checkbook to keep all the transactions in your record in a manageable way.
Closing the account of the deceased
The deceased person’s bank account will remain after death until the bank is directed to complete it. As usual, closing that account is also a task that an executor or an administrator can only do. Below are some instructions for you about what should you do to close the account of your beloved deceased;
- First, you should review all the details of that account and check whether that account is a joint account or a POD account or not.
- You must provide the original death certificate and legal documents proving yourself as an estate of that account to the bank to take any action.
- The bank will then verify the legal documents you have provided.
- Bank will allow you to do the transaction.
- The bank will keep your legal and original documents for further processes.
- Before leaving, make sure to proofread the amount of the check.
- Many banks ask for an inactivity fee when closing the account if the probate process is extended too long.
How Do I Endorse a Check made out to a Deceased Person: Tips you need
Before everything, you can request the issuer to reissue that check with your name, but keep in mind that this decision depends upon the issuer’s choice. They are not obligated to do that.
- Some banks did not allow a check deposit into an estate account. In this case, you have to go to probate court or convince the issuer to write your name as an estate on a check. Do it by showing all the documents to that issuer.
- Make sure that any other person operating the account of a deceased person other than the Executor named in the will or appointed by the court will be illicit.
- You have to be careful as an executor because it will then be your legal duty to honestly handle the deceased’s account, and you will be accountable for any ups and downs.
- Before the probate process, make sure to inform the respective bank about the death of your beloved by showing a death certificate. In this case, the bank will freeze the account and stop any transaction, which is helpful.
- Plus, you should also notify utility companies and vendors about the death of your beloved to avoid monthly charges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it illegal to deposit a check made out to a deceased person?
No, it is not an illegal job as long as you have taken permission from the court to be an administrator or if your name is mentioned as an executor in the deceased’s will. But make sure the court has accepted the validity of that will before you take any action.
Can the Executor write checks on deceased accounts?
This process is done so that either the Executor assigned by the court changes the deceased person’s account into an estate account or opens a new account in a category of estate account.
People usually prefer to open a new estate account, because in this way transaction becomes much more hassle-free and you can also write checks with your signature only.
Can I deposit a check made out to an estate?
No, beneficiaries have no legal right to operate the deceased’s account as long as he is assigned as an executor, which means only the Executor has the legal right to control the account, none other. And this assignment of Executor is done through the probation process.
So even as a beneficiary, you have to wait for the probation process. All you can do before probation is to request that respective bank to freeze that account, which can be done quickly by providing the death certificate of your beloved.
Do you have to open an estate account when someone dies?
People usually get surprised to hear that opening a probate account or an estate account is not necessary or advisable at all times. Similarly, in the case of a joint statement, all the assets are transferred to the second owner without any probation. But outside all these situations in which assets are not transferable to the beneficiary mentioned in a valid will, you have to undergo the process of probation.
Why is probation done?
Probation is done because of the following reasons generally
- Transfer of assets
- Filing of claim
- Filing of wrongful death action
- Tax matters
In some cases, a probate estate will be opened to deal with certain tax matters. This could be avoided, but a decision should be made after consultation with qualified legal counsel, or you can say after probation.
Losing someone you love is not an easy matter; you have to control your emotions plus the legal issues of the deceased person. People often get confused about these financial matters and make mistakes that might affect their future. Therefore it is advised to handle all things legally and collect all the respective information about your actions. In this way, handling stuff becomes much more accessible.
I’m a driven and accomplished law graduate and post-graduate, passionate about sharing my legal expertise via my blog. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of London (UK) and a Master’s in Law from the University of Derby (UK). Both gave me the foundational knowledge and skills to excel in my chosen career path.
Throughout my academic journey, I have gained extensive knowledge in various fields of Law, including Corporate and Business Law in the USA, Criminal Law, International Law, US Copyright law, and most importantly, American Constitutional law.