Phoenix, AZ asked in Estate Planning for Arizona

Q: Can a cheque for a discrepancy from my now deceased father's 401k be reissued and deposited to "the Estate of his name"?

Before my father's passing, he pulled out funds from his 401K. There must have been some discrepancy in the amount paid to him, as Discover Financial Services sent him a cheque for the amount of the difference (about $400) in 2020. The issue is that this cheque was sent out several months after he had passed.

Discover Financial Services has advised that they do not have a direct mechanism to reissue funds once a 401K is cashed out. Because the cheque is made out in my deceased father’s name, it cannot be deposited, as is, by any of his living relatives. Because the cheque is from a 401K, I doubt that it could be reissued in anyone else’s name, other than “the Estate” of my father.

Given the cheque is not for a huge amount of money, the executor of the will is hoping that, with the addition of some appropriate paperwork from an estate attorney, she could deposit the reissued cheque at her bank.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Ilene L McCauley
Ilene L McCauley
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: I am so sorry for your loss.

I have a few questions though. If there is an Executor, a probate would have to be opened. The Letters of Personal Representative would give the company authority to issue the check. Only a court can appoint someone to be the Executor or Personal Representative.

If probate hasn't opened, and you are just looking at a Will, I would recommend that you retain the services of a qualified attorney to prepare a 'Small Estate Affidavit' for you. That document will work if we are dealing with an Arizona resident and a small estate.

Let me know if you have any other concerns.

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