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Cashing a Check with Two Payees

I received a check that has my name as the payee as well as another party's name. However it does not have the word 'and' between our names. Can either of us endorse this check to cash or deposit it?

There are two answers to your question. First is the legal answer: if two payees are listed with no "AND" or "&" between them, the check is payable to the payees "alternatively." That means that either of the payees can endorse and negotiate (deposit or cash) the check.

However, the legal answer is not the complete answer. That's because the law says that one endorsement would be enough for the check to be properly paid, but it does not require a bank to accept only one endorsement. Your bank (or banks) may require both signatures to be certain that they won't be "stuck" with the check because only one payee endorsed it. Even though they would probably win in a dispute over whether they needed the second signature, banks that look at these endorsements conservatively don't want to have to deal with disputes. The only sure way to know if you can cash or deposit the check with only one signature is to ask the bank where you'd like to get that done, but don't endorse the check before they tell you they'll do it!

Published on 7/03/07