It’s a common question, especially when you’re dealing with the death of a loved one: “Can I cash a check for someone who has passed away?”
If you are in possession of a death certificate for the person for whom you’re cashing a check and have identification to prove that you are who you say you are, then yes, you can cash a check for someone who has passed away. In some cases, however, depending on the financial institution and/or state where this transaction is taking place, a court order may be required.
This is not an uncommon practice, especially if there is a will or trust established by the deceased: it can be in the interest of their estate to cash any outstanding checks that have already been written before the individual died.
In most cases, it’s as simple as bringing the proper documentation to your local bank branch and presenting identification. However, if there is no record of this check being made out to you specifically, or if there are any questions about whether or not this was an authorized payment (such as when there are funds left after paying off debts), then it might be necessary to involve legal counsel.
It’s important to do your research ahead of time to ensure that any complications or problems can be avoided before attempting to cash a check after someone has passed away.
Get the Deceased’s Death Certificate
Get a certified copy of the death certificate. A certified copy is a document issued by the state that verifies that a copy is an exact duplicate of the original, which in this case should be the death certificate. The bank may accept another form of proof, such as a funeral director’s statement or an obituary or newspaper article stating the death.
Find the Origin of the Check
- Check the bank that issued the check for their address and phone number.
- Look at the payee’s information to see who else is on the check.
- The check’s date, endorsement lines, memo line, signature line and routing number all help you identify where it came from.
Confirm If An Estate Has Been Established
The first step is to confirm that no estate has been established for the deceased person. If you are the next of kin and an estate has not been established, you can open one on behalf of the deceased. If you are not the next of kin and an estate has not been established, it is best to leave this matter in the hands of a legal professional.
If there is an executor for the estate, then talk to them about what to do with the check. They will probably tell you to put it in their account until it can be sorted out, as you’ll need their approval before you can cash it yourself.
In order to handle these types of transactions as efficiently as possible, it’s important to have all of your paperwork in order. You will need a copy of the death certificate and a certified copy of your power of attorney or letter from the probate court naming you as executor or administrator for any funds received by deceased person’s name.
Visit the Financial Institution Where the Account was Opened
If you have a check that belongs to someone who has died, you may still be able to cash it. Visit the bank or credit union where the check was drawn and request they cash it. You will need a death certificate and ID, and you may need to fill out a form. You will need to bring along a valid government-issued ID, as well as the check in question. It’s also important to bring along all of your paperwork, including proof of custody, guardianship and/or power of attorney.
The purpose of this trip is twofold:
- So that you can verify that the person who wrote out the check has sufficient funds in his/her account for you to cash it.
- So that you can deposit those funds directly into an appropriate account under your name.
Sell the Check to a Discount Check Cashing Company
- Look for a business that cashes checks in your area, and see if they will cash the check. Usually you won’t need to be the owner of the check to do this, but you may have to fill out some paperwork. The company will cash the check for a fee—usually about 10%—so you’ll get 90% of the value of the check.
- Sign over the check by filling out and signing an endorsement on the back of it (most companies will have a form for this), and then give them both the endorsement and front of the check along with proper identification (driver’s license or passport).
- Beware that there’s always risk when cashing checks for other people: if someone writes you a bad check and asks you to cash it for them, and even if they’re paying you 10% or 20%, there’s still a chance that it could end up bouncing; which means that not only would you not get paid by them, but also could potentially lose money on bank fees incurred from having written/cashed said bounced checks.
Provide Notice of Your Intent
- You may need to provide notice of your intent to cash a dead person’s check. This is a legal requirement to ensure that the funds are correctly distributed.
- File an intent to cash with the probate court in the county where the deceased lived or where the check is drawn. The estate administrator typically files this notice, but it may be filed by another interested party, such as a surviving spouse, heir or creditor.
- Include any required fee for filing this notice with your county’s probate court and provide copies of proof of death to them as well.
You Can Cash a Deceased’s Check as Long as You Meet Certain Requirements
If you’re not the grieving family member and want to deposit or cash a check made out to someone who has died, there are specific requirements you must meet. If those requirements are satisfied, you may be able to deposit or cash the check with your ID and proof that you were authorized to take care of the deceased’s financials in some capacity. Acceptable forms of identification include a government-issued photo ID such as a state driver’s license, state non-driver ID card, military ID card, and a U.S. passport or passport card.
You can’t always cash a deceased person’s check by presenting identification for yourself and saying you’re handling their affairs. The requirements vary based on whether or not the estate is probated and which state law applies.