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Can I cash this check?
Old 11-22-2017, 12:58 PM   #1
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Can I cash this check?

I received a check in the mail yesterday that I initially thought was for me. Upon closer inspection I found it was meant for my Dad who passed away over three years ago. I am a Jr. and the check was made out to Sr. I was executor and heir for his estate but probate has been closed for about two years.

If it makes any difference the check was some sort of settlement from BOA that was the result of litigation since before Dad passed. Apparently, a previous payment was paid to him before his passing. My obvious question is this check any good? It is not enough to warrant involving the estate attorney from several years ago, but it is more than a few bucks. Anyone have any experience with a situation like this?
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Old 11-22-2017, 01:01 PM   #2
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I left the Trust checking account open for just this reason.

I dunno. I would take it to the bank that you dealt with when you processed the estate and ask them.
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Old 11-22-2017, 01:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Tom52 View Post
I am a Jr. and the check was made out to Sr. I was executor and heir for his estate but probate has been closed for about two years.
I'm an atty, but not a trusts & estates atty, and this is not legal advice.

That being said, I would opt for "No" because your authority to act on behalf of your father's estate ended when the estate closed.

Depending on how much the check is for, it may be worth a few minutes of your estate atty's time to discuss.
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Old 11-22-2017, 01:38 PM   #4
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We had two similar situations. DH had a check from his late mom's employer and he could not cash it. It wasn't large and was just going to split it with his siblings. Employer would not reissue it, the bank wouldn't cash it, said he needed to get an atty to do whatever needed to be done. Atty would have cost more than the check; I don't know what happened to it.

But when my Dad passed we had a similar situation; my brother is a "Jr". He just endorsed the check, deposited it online and that was it.

BTW, I accidentally deposited a check online (made out to me) and forgot to endorse it. I called the bank (mega bank) and they said that I would probably never hear anything about it. I didn't.
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Old 11-22-2017, 01:48 PM   #5
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Our atty said in a case like this, he'd be able to do something (escrow acct?) without reopening the trust. The situation hasn't come up in 3 years, however, so I haven't been able to test it. It is worth a quick call to their office in your case.

I do know dad and mom both are listed on "free money" sites in their state, but for less than $50. One was some late dividend on a closed mutual fund, the other on an overpayment to a doctor office. For less than $100, I'm not opening up any cans of worms.
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Old 11-22-2017, 01:55 PM   #6
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I have gotten a couple of checks made out to my father ten years after he died. Dropped them into the ATM using my account number. I deposited the larger loan payoff escrow refund check from the servicer for a house in my name but with the loan in his and endorsed it as the executor. All went through the ATM, no hiccups. I was the executor of the estate and the beneficiary of the trust and the only heir, so I figured try it and wait for the bank to say I made a mistake.
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:04 PM   #7
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I bet you can just deposit in your account.

One week I forgot to sign the payroll checks and they all (15) cleared the banks.
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:08 PM   #8
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You could possibly use a small estate affidavit, if you qualify, and ask for the check to be re-issued to the proper beneficairies. Lots of options here depending on if probate, trust, no will/trust, size of estate, etc.... Every state is different too.

Also, though totally not legal or correct, some people would just deposit it, give the money to the rightful heirs, and move on. Again, this is not technically correct, not legal, and not the "right" thing to do but it might be the most practical thing.
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Luvdogs View Post

But when my Dad passed we had a similar situation; my brother is a "Jr". He just endorsed the check, deposited it online and that was it.

BTW, I accidentally deposited a check online (made out to me) and forgot to endorse it. I called the bank (mega bank) and they said that I would probably never hear anything about it. I didn't.
No legal or moral advice but...

If you've ever seen checks processed they look at numbers not names, signatures, etc.. Go write a check to Billy Bob and have him endorse it Micky Mouse. As long as the routing numbers are valid humans never even see a check.
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:26 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CaliKid View Post
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Also, though totally not legal or correct, some people would just deposit it, give the money to the rightful heirs, and move on. Again, this is not technically correct, not legal, and not the "right" thing to do but it might be the most practical thing.
I agree it's not legal or technically correct, but I'd argue it is the "right" thing to do if it gets to the same place as it would've had it gone through escrow. What is "wrong" with it? If there were other heirs and you are on good terms, I'd be upfront about it. If there were issues with the other heirs, that's a different story, and I'd go through the legal process. OP says he is the "heir" so I assume it would've gone to him anyway.

I'm assuming this isn't a huge check or a huge estate that was taxed. In that case I would also go through the legal process.

Given the same name, I seriously doubt you'll have any trouble getting it cashed. Even if you get questioned, it can probably be passed off as an "oops", that you didn't even notice it was for Sr., unless someone in authority comes across this thread!
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:29 PM   #11
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I'd opt for making a convenient mistake...oops.........
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:40 PM   #12
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I would just endorse it (omitting the "Jr.") and cash it at my local bank.

If they point out to you the "Sr." you can always say..."Oh, I hadn't noticed that!"
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:43 PM   #13
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It's always easier to get forgiveness than permission. Try it.
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:44 PM   #14
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I would just endorse it (omitting the "Jr.") and cash it at my local bank.

If they point out to you the "Sr." you can always say..."Oh, I hadn't noticed that!"
Yep. Always easier to get forgiveness than permission.
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Old 11-22-2017, 03:16 PM   #15
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For completeness though, I'll add "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Actually TJ said it even better:


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Old 11-22-2017, 03:50 PM   #16
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I suppose one question is the size of the check if less than $1000 go ahead and cash it and distribute it as the will said. After all if all the beneficiaries get the correct amount who will complain.
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Old 11-22-2017, 04:17 PM   #17
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Just deposit it into your own account.

Unless someone protests it, it will cash. The only one that would protest it, is the person who was supposed to get the money and did not.

No one reads signatures anymore, it's all machines. Maybe a small bank might, and B of A is a large bank.
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Old 11-22-2017, 04:46 PM   #18
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For completeness though, I'll add "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Actually TJ said it even better:


theoretically true, however, in matters such as this, one is compelled to weigh the certain hassle and expense of trying to figure out what the law is, versus the hassle and expense that likely will not even befall one, should one just go ahead and cash the check and deal with it later, if ever.
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Old 11-22-2017, 06:11 PM   #19
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It seems to me that the sender of the cheque knew, or should know, that the OP’s dear father is deceased, given that the action took place after his death. In that case, their duty was to make the cheque out to “the estate of DF”. As others have said, ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law. Therefore I don’t see anything wrong with the person whose name is on the cheque (the OP, albeit junior) cashing it.
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:09 PM   #20
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My dear departed brother was in the hospital and asked me the retrieve his checkbook from his home. I did not do it immediately and he got upset. I said What is the problem? and he said that once he had written all the payments to the utilities and forgotten to sign them. They all cleared. So he considered possession of the checkbook to be like cash.
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