My mother passed away in 2010. She left me a signed check for an ‘in case of emergency’. I forgot about this check and just recently came across it. Can I still deposit it?

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My mother passed away in 2010. She left me a signed check for an ‘in case of emergency’. I forgot about this check and just recently came across it. Can I still deposit it?

The check is blank except for her signature.The account is still active. Due to
her declining health she would just sign the check and have me fill out the rest
in the past.

Asked on April 19, 2018 under Estate Planning, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you can not. It does not matter what she would have done in the past; since she has passed away, she cannot authorize you to write out or cash the check. Furthermore, while you say the account is still active, it should NOT be: accounts are frozen when someone dies, then the money is only distributed to the estate, put into a separate estate account for the payment of bills & expenses and eventual distribution to heirs, when the estate's personal representative brings proof of death and their authority to the bank. No one may legally draw checks on a dead person's account, and the bank should not pay out checks on an account one the account-holder dies.


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