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  Home >> Special Situations >> Deceased Individuals  
Depositing Check Made Out to Deceased

My wife passed away in October, 2007. Before she passed away, I paid a medical provider up front for charges that the provider should have submitted as a claim to our medical insurance. I just resolved this issue with the insurance company and they sent me a reimbursement check made payable to my deceased wife. She didn't have a Will and everything that we owned was in both of our names. Our joint checking account is still open. Is there any way that I can deposit the check into this account? If not, how should I go about depositing it?


The correct way to handle this is to ask the insurance company to reissue the check. That's because that joint account isn't legally a joint account any longer -- the bank only carries it on its books that way because it hasn't been asked to update its records. If the bank is aware of your wife's death, it hasn't unilaterally made the change to the account title because it's reluctant to upset a customer who might need time to be ready for such a change.

If the insurance company knew your wife was deceased at the time they issued the check, it's surprising they would have issued it in her name. However, getting it issued correctly is the correct course of action.

An alternative approach would be to see if your state has a probate provision for small estates of individuals who left no Wills. You might be able to get yourself appointed as an administrator of her estate for long enough to cash the check and conclude any other details that were left.

Published on 3/13/08