Augusta, ME asked in Probate for Maine

Q: My mom cashed in her life insurance policy and passed before the check came . We have a joint checking account.

Can I deposit? If no, options?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Daniel J. Eccher
Daniel J. Eccher
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Winthrop, ME
  • Licensed in Maine

A: I hesitated to answer this question because it lacks detail, but if I assume that the check was made payable to your mother, the problem is that she has passed, so she cannot deposit it. The general rule is that a check made payable to someone who has died cannot be cashed or deposited – rather, it should be returned to the party that sent it, with an explanation that the intended payee is deceased. In this situation, you may be thinking that because you share a bank account with your mother, you should be able to deposit the check in that joint account anyway. I would exercise an abundance of caution, because it seems quite likely that the insurance company and the bank will become aware of your mother’s date of death at some point in the near future.

If you don’t want to send the check back to the insurance company, you can hold on to it until the Personal Representative of her estate has been appointed by the local Probate Court. The Personal Representative would have the authority to endorse any checks that were made payable to your mother in order to deposit them in an estate account. (Of course, this plan is only good if her estate is large enough to bother initiating proceedings in Probate Court.) Because there are so many unknowns, it seems like it would be wise to engage a local attorney with knowledge of administering estates.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.