Elkton, MD asked in Tax Law for Maryland

Q: Had been married for 48 years. Always filed married filing jointly. My husband passed away in August 2019. Yesterday,

the check arrived. It is made out to both my husband and me. Am I entitled to the entire $2,400.00? Can the executor sign on behalf of my husband so I can deposit the check into my account?

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2 Lawyer Answers
D. Mathew Blackburn
D. Mathew Blackburn
  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Englewood, CO

A: There is not currently guidance on this matter from the IRS. However, if the individual passed in 2019 and the payment was based on the 2019 return there is a string argument that he payment is proper. Second, the IRS has made clear that outside fraud on the part of an individual these payment will not have to be repaid. There is currently no function to repay them. The 2020 returns will supposedly have a form to calculate the proper amount without a requirement to repay any overage and the ability to take any underpayment as a tax credit.

Short answer: You can almost certainly keep the full amount but we won't be 100% sure for a while.

As far as depositing the check I defer to the bank to let you know what MD law requires.

1 user found this answer helpful

Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: As a practical matter, you cannot endorse the check by signing your husband's name, and if his estate is entitled to the funds, then it should be endorsed by the PR and deposited into an estate account. That would also require your endorsement and deposit of your share into the estate account. Then distribution of your half could be made, and then distribution to the heirs (you I assume) of the other half. The strongest argument I have heard for a deceased person to receive a stimulus check has to do with the scenario where they were still living at the time that the stimulus bill passed into law. The scenario you have described is in a grey area, so far as the law is concerned. Unfortunately you cannot get your half of the check without depositing the whole the check. I agree with Mr. Blackburn, however, that the intent of the law is not to trip up people who are not acting with fraudulent intent, and there is some language absolving people of repayment in the event they are overpaid based on their income levels. But if your deceased husband was not entitled to the funds, I suppose the risk is that you will have to return the money if they ever do an audit and figure it out.

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