How can I get a check cashed that was written to my deceased mother's estate?

7 answers | Last updated: Feb 06, 2018
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother died without a will. Her car was automatically paid off at the time of her death and a check was issued to my mother’s estate. How can I get the check cashed when no one was given the power of attorney?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

You are learning the hard way why so many people advocate how wise it is to put your affairs in order during your life to avoid such profound hassles after death.

If the car payment is the only thing that is left unsettled, you may consider contacting the company that issued the check to explain your predicament. There is a chance it will have a form and format for you to follow.

But you will probably be in for a bit of legwork and paperwork, which may be worthwhile if the check is for a large amount.

Unfortunately, the only person that can legally cash that check would be the personal administrator for your mother's estate. Since she did not name one in a will, you or some other person would have to go to the local probate court and ask it to issue you the authority in what is called "letters testamentary."

To get this permission, you would need to present a copy of your mother's death certificate, complete some paperwork, and pay a court filing fee. You will likely need this authority to negotiate other transactions after your mother's death -- for example, changing title to stocks and bonds she may have owned.

Community Answers

Katosboss answered...

The expert's reply is unfortunately quite true. I just wanted to add this (because most people don't know) that you need to be on your parent's bank accounts or have a power of attorney with the bank to have access to those funds post-death.

Derrytwp answered...

You must deposit the check into your Mother's account. I highly doubt that anyone will cash it as you would need to have POA. When a person passes, the state takes over the assets. You will need to contact Social Security if your mother was receiving payments. Hope this helps some. Good luck.

A fellow caregiver answered...

A power of attorney ceases upon death so it would not prove beneficial to have one in the case of cashing a check payable to the deceased person.

Colette51 answered...

Power of Attorney [Health Care or Statutory (financial)] is good until the person for whom it is for dies. After death the executor of the estate (or the state if the the deceased dies intestate) takes over.

If I am incorrect, please correct me.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Before someone dies, ask the individual to make you a Payable On Death. A POD will give you the balance of the account payable on death without the need for probate. A POD is a great idea for everyone, and especially an important consideration for families who have a terminally ill family member who is unmarried.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Power of Attorney ceases upon death.