The executor of an estate is responsible for managing the assets of the deceased, which may include money owed to them. In this case, the executor has the right to endorse the check and deposit it into the estate's current account. This money then becomes part of the cash pool used to pay beneficiaries and debts. In order to cash an estate check, a bank account in the name of the deceased's estate is usually needed, even for small estates.
When a financial institution presents a check endorsed by the executor or administrator, it will be paid by the Treasury without any additional documentation. To open an estate account, you will need a copy of the death certificate, proof that you are the representative of the estate, and an IRS-issued tax identification number for the estate. Cashing an estate check can be complicated if there is no estate, if the estate is too small to require a formal probate process, or if you receive the check after the estate is closed. Generally, you cannot cash an estate check with your personal bank account, even if you are the executor or sole beneficiary of the estate, or if you had a joint account with the deceased.
The executor must open a checking account in the name of the estate if they expect to receive payments. Some banks may also allow you to cash a check with a small inheritance affidavit and a death certificate instead of opening an estate account. For a small or non-existent estate that does not legally require an estate, try to contact the payor of the check directly. An executor or administrator supporting such verification must include an indication of their capacity as part of their guarantee.
However, if both the probate and probate accounts are closed, you may need a court order to reopen the bank account and deposit or cash the check. You'll need to look at your state's boundaries regarding which estates qualify as “small” and you may want to consult an attorney to determine if you should open an estate account. With an estate account, the executor can endorse and deposit checks and then distribute funds according to the outcome of the will or estate. If this is not possible, take the check to the executor and ask them to write a new one from the estate account.