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Checks for Deposit to Decedent's Account

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I had a customer come into my branch with a check made payable to a decedent's name, to be deposited in the estate account for the deceased. Does the customer have to have the check reissued so that the payee line reads "payable to the estate of (decedent's name)?", or is the decedent's name just fine?

If the check is payable to the decedent and it's not an annuity check that typically requires that the payee be alive when it's endorsed, a deposit to the estate account would be fine.

If it's an annuity check (typically from an insurance company), it may have a legend that purports to require the signature of the payee or otherwise indicate that he or she must be alive. That check should be returned and reissued, if it can be.

If it's a check from the U.S. Treasury for a benefit payment such as SSA, SSI, Railroad Retirement, Black Lung, Civil Service, etc., it cannot be deposited after the death of the payee. It has to be returned to the authorizing agency for possible reissue.

If it's a Treasury check for a tax refund, a principal or interest payment on U.S. bonds, notes, Treasury bills or savings bonds, it can be deposited to an account of the decedent's estate but must be endorsed by the estate's personal representative.

First published on 2/7/11

First published on 02/07/2011

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