How can I cash a check made out to a dead person?

Here’s the situation:

My MIL died in late September. She was 50. She left no will. That didn’t seem to matter because the estate was effectively empty: there was some cheap furniture and such, but no cash to speak of. The furniture was divided amicably.

There was a life insurance policy which named my husband as the sole benificiary. As per what we think his mother’s actual wishes would have been, we are splitting that money up into four chunks amoung him and his four siblings. I’ve checked with a CPA about that money to make sure we don’t become liable for any taxes and that seems all under control.

Because he was named on that policy, the human resources people sent the check for his mom’s unused vacation time to him. It’s not a lot of money–$450–and my plan was to just send the money to St. Judes from all four children, both because it is appropriate (his mom was a pediatric nurse) and because I don’t want to worry about either splitting it up or having weird resentments about not splitting it up linger for twenty years.

The problem is that the check is made out to my husband’s mother, whose last name is different from everyone else, and I don’t know how to cash it. It is my understanding that costs associated with probate will cost more than $450, and even seeing a lawyer about it will cost a couple hundred. It’s just not enough money to be worth all that. But it isn’t chicken feed, either, and I’d like to pass it on to where it can do some good.

Is there any easy, simple way to get the money form this check to St. Judes? If I just sign my MIL’s name on the back of it (and no one would challenge that) and send it in, will they cash it as a two party check? Is there any way I can do this that is completely legal, which I would prefer?

I am in Texas, if that makes any difference.

Thanks. It’s probably a metaphor of something that this $450 that i want to do good with has caused a lot more trouble nad headache than the signifigantly larger life insurance payment.

IANAL, but I would try to have the human resources people who wrote the check take it back and write a check to St. Jude instead. Just try explaining it to them, it can’t hurt.

Does she have a still-open checking account? If so, deposit it there. Later, when your hubby has jumped through whatever hoops he needs to, he’ll get it back through the inheritance process.

I assume that your MIL’s bank has converted her bank account into an “estate” account until such time as the estate is finalised. I’d suggest calling the bank, as whoever is administering the estate should be able to cash the cheque through that account.

Thanks for hte speedy replies, guys.

The problem is is that I don’t know that she had a bank account–if she did, it was a community acount with a daughter who is still living, and I can promise that any money that may have been in there (and it wouldn’t have been much–she lived month to month) is long gone. We aren’t planning on finalising the estate as the entire estate is this $450, and any legal action will cost more than that.

Calling the human resources people is a good idea, voltaire. I will try that Monday.

This is one of my duties at work (HR Admin) and I always make the vacation/accrued wages checks out to the deceased employee’s estate. To my knowledge that has never caused any problems for the survivors.

Your in Texas? You moved?

Sorry for the hijack, but someone already gave my answer. Call the HR peoples.