Checks made out to deceased?

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My mother passed away last November, I recently received two checks, one from discover for under $20 and the other was an overpayment on her car that I paid off with a check from navy federal. There was  a time when I had auto pay on the vehicle and taking out of my checking and didn't cancel it before sending the certified check from navy federal to Ford Motor credit, they withdrew a payment a couple days before receiving the check therefore giving me an overpayment. Problem is the overpayment check came in my deceased mothers name.
 
Can I just deposit the checks in the atm? Do the photo deposit? Do I really need to go through all the work to get the checks issued in my name? Which I know will be nearly impossible. The check from Ford was almost $300 

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I deposited it with a teller.  No way I'd risk putting it into an ATM, and this was more than two years before I owned a... (more)

DTASFAB (Sep. 15, 2016 @ 9:31p) |

Latest fake chitchat tellers are required to engage customers in at two different local banks is, "Do you have any plans... (more)

atikovi (Sep. 15, 2016 @ 10:15p) |

I'd guess that as executor you may have cut a corner or two, but understandably and it still ended up in the right place... (more)

Glitch99 (Sep. 16, 2016 @ 7:29a) |

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Who is the administrator/executor of your mother's estate?

Give them to the executor to cash them for you.

My sister was the executor and all accounts have been closed.

letsspendlotsofmoney said:   My sister was the executor and all accounts have been closed.
 
Apparently not.

Maybe your sister could deposit them to her own account by endorsing them as "For Deposit Only [Sister's Signature], Executor for [Mother's name]"  She may also be able to walk into her bank with her letters testamentary (that state that she is the executor) and simply cash them--then give you the funds.

I don't think that you could do the same because you are not her executor--that would almost be like you attempting to deposit any other random individual's check.

letsspendlotsofmoney said:   My sister was the executor and all accounts have been closed.
 

Apparently not all of them....

This is something for your sister to handle as executor, as it's a lingering estate matter.  Was your mom's bank account local?  She could probably walk in and have the estate account temporarily re-opened to deposit the check, or at least get the checks cashed/endorsed over to you. 

I wouldnt try depositing it your own account at the ATM; too much potential to go sideways.  And you'll never get the checks re-issued in your name.

I remember going to the bank to remove my dad's name from a joint account after his passing. The banker there actually told me to wait for a year before I do that just in case something like OP's situation arises. Just a reminder to folks out there.

I think raringvt's suggestion will work.

If you have the same last name and are sufficiently friendly with a local banker where your mother was located & had accounts, you can potentially get them to help. Otherwise, the right/most-legally-correct move is to get the executor (sister) to handle this.

I had a similar situation with a check made our to my ex-wife and myself. I am sufficiently friendly with my banker that it was no issue. The ex knew about the check and signed the back, but there was no such account in both of our names and her last name has changed as well, so it required some manual intervention.

Your signature.

FOR DEPOSIT ONLY

With a teller during open banking hours.

No ATM, no mobile deposit.

Take your chances. Worst that happens is you hear NO and the check is handed back to you.

Or have your sister try to do the same.

DTASFAB said:   Your signature.

FOR DEPOSIT ONLY

With a teller during open banking hours.

No ATM, no mobile deposit.

Take your chances. Worst that happens is you hear NO and the check is handed back to you.

Or have your sister try to do the same.

  
Disagree.  Your signature, FOR DEPOSIT ONLY, but mobile deposit.  If it's a small check (i.e. a couple hundred bucks or less), nobody's going to care who it's made out to, so long as it clears.. 

On the back, write Pay to the order of Your Name, then sign your mother's name below it. Then sign your name below that in different ink. Hand to teller. Technically you're committing forgery but since you're the intended recipient, the risk is miniscule.

cestmoi123 said:   
DTASFAB said:   Your signature.

FOR DEPOSIT ONLY

With a teller during open banking hours.

No ATM, no mobile deposit.

Take your chances. Worst that happens is you hear NO and the check is handed back to you.

Or have your sister try to do the same.

  
Disagree.  Your signature, FOR DEPOSIT ONLY, but mobile deposit.  If it's a small check (i.e. a couple hundred bucks or less), nobody's going to care who it's made out to, so long as it clears.. 

  Now we are dividing between the proper remedy, and what you have a chance of getting away with.  While there may not be much chance of anyone pressing charges, endorsing and depositing a check made out to someone else is in fact a crime.

It sucks that I have to feel like a criminal to get my own money back... 

I was thinking depositing it via the atm that there would be no human interaction to tell me no... Just deposit and wait for it to clear... No harm no foul...

Being a current executor, my sense it that ideally your sister left the estate account open and can handle it that way. If she didn't, having her handle with her signature referencing executor role is at least following the intention of the law/estate process. You do not have standing as a beneficiary to handle estate finances.

We never closed my parents account since some checks still come in quarterly. Some places refuse to close their account and send dividends. We take them to the bank teller who places an Endorser Guarantee stamp in place of the normal endorsement. One of the benefits of banking in the same branch. My tellers have a clue.

letsspendlotsofmoney said:   It sucks that I have to feel like a criminal to get my own money back... 
Legally, it is not your money.  Even if, in the case of overpayments, you were paying the original bills, the money now belongs to your mother's estate.  I know it sucks, but you can see why the requirement exists, especially if a larger sum of money were involved.

JW10 said:   We never closed my parents account since some checks still come in quarterly. Some places refuse to close their account and send dividends...
 

I'm curious about this.  What "places" won't close or transfer accounts in the name of a deceased person? 

dcwilbur said:   
JW10 said:   We never closed my parents account since some checks still come in quarterly. Some places refuse to close their account and send dividends...
I'm curious about this.  What "places" won't close or transfer accounts in the name of a deceased person? 

  Bank of America for one. My mother's pension checks kept coming for over 3 years even after notifying both the pension administrator and the bank numerous times that she died. Posting under alt id for obvious reasons.

Glitch99 said:     Now we are dividing between the proper remedy, and what you have a chance of getting away with.  While there may not be much chance of anyone pressing charges, endorsing and depositing a check made out to someone else is in fact a crime.
I'd love to get a full legal analysis by both prosecutors and defense attorneys familiar with both check fraud and probate laws on a real situation I had four years ago.  My father died without a spouse and I'm his only child.  I was named as sole executor and sole beneficiary of all his assets in his will.

As an aside, the only assets he had contracted outside of probate to go to anyone besides me was a small amount in a savings account that was left in trust for his brother.

In the months leading up to his death, unbeknownst to us, a few people from the condo development disputed property taxes with the town, and ended up getting all 100+ homeowners in the development a refund check of about $2,000 each.  These checks arrived two months after my father died, so the house was still legally in his name, although I was living there and I would eventually take title a few months later.  I asked if the check could be written out to me instead of to my father, and the condo management company vehemently told me no.  It was a check that was related to the real estate property that as executor I knew I would be entitled to receive as beneficiary.  I wonder if depositing the check into my account rather than going to the trouble to open an estate account was technically illegal under those circumstances.

At one point, I had to open an estate brokerage account, but it was only open for about two days before everything was transferred into my name.  I never had any banking accounts opened in the name of the estate, which I guess was unusual.

IANAL but I do not believe the executor has any authority once the estate has been closed. If you are the sole heir, you could probably get away with depositing it via Mobile Deposit or ATM. Another method would be to have the creditor reissue the checks to the heirs by sending them a copy of the probate documents (listing the heirs and showing that estate is closed).
DTASFAB said:   I wonder if depositing the check into my account rather than going to the trouble to open an estate account was technically illegal under those circumstances.
Once again, IANAL but this may depend on your state and the amount of money in the savings account.  If the assets are under a certain amount and does not include property that is titled, you may not need to go through probate court (see more here ).  At the very least, it isn't unethical.  I would guess that it is not illegal either.

caterpillar123 said:   IANAL but I do not believe the executor has any authority once the estate has been closed.
 

Let me preface by saying IANAL but the above is an interesting perspective.

Indeed, if the reverse were true in that the deceased owed money to somebody (say OP or a bank), he/they can make a claim on the estate following the proper procedure. I believe there are specific deadlines to follow but once the proper notifications are made, deadlines followed, and the estate is closed, OP/bank will be SOL in terms of making a claim on the estate.

What OP describes is a situation where someone (Discover and Navy federal) owes money to the deceased. Once the estate is closed, can the estate/executor really pursue those payments from Discover or Navy Federal. Similarly, can OP really pursue his claim on the estate for those monies?
 

if you sister is the executor, the lawyer handling her will will get an updated letters testamentary, no charge. Why is this even an issue if your sister has consulted her lawyer ?

atikovi said:   On the back, write Pay to the order of Your Name, then sign your mother's name below it. Then sign your name below that in different ink. Hand to teller. Technically you're committing forgery but since you're the intended recipient, the risk is miniscule.
  This.*  Simplest and most direct way to achieve stated objective.  Legally dubious, but no harm no foul.
*  Assuming "hand to teller" means depositing to OP's account.  Trying to cash the checks unnecessarily raises profile & scrutiny.  Making pleasant convo during transaction would also likely grease the skids.

caterpillar123 said:   IANAL but I do not believe the executor has any authority once the estate has been closed. If you are the sole heir, you could probably get away with depositing it via Mobile Deposit or ATM. Another method would be to have the creditor reissue the checks to the heirs by sending them a copy of the probate documents (listing the heirs and showing that estate is closed).
DTASFAB said:   I wonder if depositing the check into my account rather than going to the trouble to open an estate account was technically illegal under those circumstances.
Once again, IANAL but this may depend on your state and the amount of money in the savings account.  If the assets are under a certain amount and does not include property that is titled, you may not need to go through probate court (see more here ).  At the very least, it isn't unethical.  I would guess that it is not illegal either.

I deposited it with a teller.  No way I'd risk putting it into an ATM, and this was more than two years before I owned a smartphone for mobile deposit.  I still don't use any mobile banking apps for anything.  Never installed one.  The problem is all the refunded money for the entire condo development was delivered to the management company, and it was the management company issuing checks to each individual homeowner, with each check made payable to whoever had held title at the time the taxes were overcharged by the town and paid by each homeowner.  Even after I legally took title of the property, the management company never fixed their records.  I lived there for over three years after he died until I sold the place, and the stupid management company was still sending notices in his name the entire time.

The estate wasn't closed at the time, and there was no savings account involved.  There was simply no cash deposit banking account (checking or savings) opened in the name of the estate.  As executor, I paid whatever debts my father owed using other funds within the first 4-6 weeks of his death.  This particular check was delivered two months after his death, well before the property on which the taxes were refunded was legally transferred into my name.  Actually, my idiot lawyer wasn't able to get me testamentary letters issued until four months after the death, and it took my lawyer another month to get those papers to me.  This was all going on while the estate was very much open.  As executor, I had the legal right to do with the check as I wished, as long as it was consistent with the proper execution of the estate, which it was.  As a legal matter, it might come down to whether I had reason to believe anyone might contest the will and whether I was acting in good faith when I "tricked" the teller into depositing the money into my checking account.

tuphat said:     Making pleasant convo during transaction would also likely grease the skids.
Latest fake chitchat tellers are required to engage customers in at two different local banks is, "Do you have any plans for the weekend?" Is there one teller training center that all banks send their tellers to for customer service training? I guess they think some customers get that warm fuzzy feeling if a teller feins interest in their personal life, but it's errie how they say the identical script at two separate banks.

DTASFAB said:   
Glitch99 said:     Now we are dividing between the proper remedy, and what you have a chance of getting away with.  While there may not be much chance of anyone pressing charges, endorsing and depositing a check made out to someone else is in fact a crime.
I'd love to get a full legal analysis by both prosecutors and defense attorneys familiar with both check fraud and probate laws on a real situation I had four years ago.  My father died without a spouse and I'm his only child.  I was named as sole executor and sole beneficiary of all his assets in his will.

As an aside, the only assets he had contracted outside of probate to go to anyone besides me was a small amount in a savings account that was left in trust for his brother.

In the months leading up to his death, unbeknownst to us, a few people from the condo development disputed property taxes with the town, and ended up getting all 100+ homeowners in the development a refund check of about $2,000 each.  These checks arrived two months after my father died, so the house was still legally in his name, although I was living there and I would eventually take title a few months later.  I asked if the check could be written out to me instead of to my father, and the condo management company vehemently told me no.  It was a check that was related to the real estate property that as executor I knew I would be entitled to receive as beneficiary.  I wonder if depositing the check into my account rather than going to the trouble to open an estate account was technically illegal under those circumstances.

At one point, I had to open an estate brokerage account, but it was only open for about two days before everything was transferred into my name.  I never had any banking accounts opened in the name of the estate, which I guess was unusual.

  I'd guess that as executor you may have cut a corner or two, but understandably and it still ended up in the right place.  Even if not technically proper, the involvement and endorsement of the estate's executor gives it some degree of legitemacy.  Of course, that's assuming there weren't any estate debts that were written off, where a creditor would've been entitled to the money ahead of you.

And the condo management was correct in refusing to reissue the check - the money belonged to the property owner of record, and they have zero authority to redistribute estate assets.



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