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My father died 3 years ago. Just received a check from a settled

previous class action suit. I...
My father died 3 years ago. Just received a check from a settled previous class action suit. I was POA when he was alive and Executor of his estate when he died. Can I legally cash this check and, if so, how do I sign it?
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Answered in 1 minute by:
7/17/2013
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 39,550
Experience: 17 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
Verified
Hello and thank you for using JA! My goal is to provide you with excellent service and help with your legal problem.
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What state is this in?
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Did you probate his estate and settle it and then close the probate case?
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Thanks
Barrister
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Ohio. There was nothing to probate. His home was foreclosed (had reverse mortgage and negative equity), no savings, cash, etc. I am his daughter and executor of his estate.

Ok, from a purely legal perspective, if you never opened a probate case to settle his estate, then you were never formally appointed executor. Although a will may have designated you as executor, until a case is filed and a judge appoints you, you aren't legally executor.
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With that said, the executor is the legal representative of the estate. So in order to be able to legally cash the check, you would have to be formally appointed as executor by a probate court judge. A POA expires upon the grantor's death, so that would not be valid any longer.
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Depending on the amount of the check, it may or may not be worth the time, money and effort to open a probate case to formally be named executor so you can open an estate bank account, deposit the check, then distribute any proceeds to the named heirs. It will typically cost a few hundred to file to open a probate case. Then you have to put a notice in the paper at additional cost to notify the public that the case is opened. Then if there are creditors that are owed money, they have the right to first dibs on any money in the estate. Once all debts are paid, then the heirs get whatever is left over.
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So unless it is a decent amount, and no creditors make claims, then it might not be worth the effort to open a case because you might not get anything if costs and creditor claims eat up all the settlement.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

The check is for $816 so not worth setting up account. I did have lawyer handle all aspects of his estate due to the home foreclosure, notifying creditors, etc. so maybe it was filed by lawyer. I really don't know what all they do. I assume I will probably sign the check and deposit in my own account. I suppose I could claim that amount for fees and expenses I incurred and paid after his death. If so, how do I sign the check?

It would be worth calling the lawyer to see if he did actually file a probate case because if he did, you might be able to file a request to re-open the case, then you could open an estate account, deposit the check, and then distribute it to the heirs since presumably all creditor accounts had been discharged in the first probate.
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I couldn't tell you to just endorse the check and deposit it into your account because that wouldn't technically be legal for you to do... .But if you did, and you signed "Bob Smith by Sue Smith, POA" and then "Sue Smith" under it, the bank might agree to deposit it into your account. They might ask to see a POA as well.
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Thanks
Barrister
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 39,550
Experience: 17 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
Verified
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Barrister
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Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 39,550
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Experience: 17 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate

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