Check for a long-closed probate
June 22, 2013 3:34 AM   Subscribe

How do we cash a check for a dead relative whose probate we closed several years ago?

Wife's uncle was a farmer, wife was executor and sole beneficiary of his will. We did the probate papers ourselves, with help from the county Register of Probate. All is well, property and assets all transferred to wife, probate closed a year after uncle's death. Now, several years later, we received a check made out to uncle, payout from his share in a dairy co-operative he sent his milk to when he was farming. Since probate papers giving wife authority over his assets are now long expired, what do we do to cash this check?
posted by ackptui to Law & Government (8 answers total)
IANAL, but since she was designated sole heir she should just sign it and deposit it. Her bank may bitch about it, but in my experience she can make a note on the back stating that her husband is deceased. We did that for several months on an annuity check that my mother received with my deceased father's name on it. In fact the bank told us to do it that way.
posted by Gungho at 4:09 AM on June 22, 2013

Just deposit it. If the teller squawks--which is unlikely--explain the situation. That ought to do it.
posted by valkyryn at 4:21 AM on June 22, 2013

The technical answer, which is what you'll have to do if someone makes you do it, is that the estate is reopened, the administrator cashes the check and disburses it, and it's closed again. But the practical suggestions above should be tried first.
posted by yclipse at 5:17 AM on June 22, 2013

You will be amazed at how easy it is to endorse and deposit the check.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:23 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check the final probate order, it probably provides for this sort of situation by giving your wife the authority to distribute assets discovered later in accordance with the approved distribution. Assuming this is the case, sign the check:

The Estate of Uncle's Name,
Ackptui's Wife's Name, Executor
Pay to the order of Acktpui's Wife's Name

Acktpui's Wife's Signature
For deposit only
posted by beagle at 7:46 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I bet you could get the Coop to reissue the check in your wife's name, if you talk to them and explain the situation. (Especially if you visit, and bring appropriate papers proving that Uncle is dead and Wife is the heir.)

By the way; the money may be subject to inheritance tax. You should talk to an accountant about that.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:47 PM on June 22, 2013

beagle has it right. The bank won't even blink.
posted by mmf at 3:32 PM on June 22, 2013

I work for a bank and they MAY blink depending on the amount of the check and whether or not you actually make them aware of it. There is no harm in trying to deposit it - just don't use an ATM machine for the deposit (in that case they WILL notice) and don't say anything to the teller about the payee being dead.
posted by brownrd at 4:56 PM on June 22, 2013

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