How do I deposit a check for a deceased person?


Q. What is the legal way in New Jersey for a surviving spouse, who is sole beneficiary and executor, deposit a health plan reimbursement check made out to the deceased spouse?
— Surviving spouse

A. We’re sorry to hear of your loss.

There are several things to consider.

Upon becoming appointed as an executor of the estate of a decedent, an executor may open a bank account in the name of the decedent’s estate, said Catherine Romania, an estate planning attorney with Witman Stadtmauer in Florham Park.

Before opening an estate account, the estate will need to have a tax identification number, which can be obtained online from the Internal Revenue Service website.

“Any checks received in the name of the decedent or written to the estate can then be deposited into this account,” Romania said. “Creditors of the estate can be paid from this account. Once the estate has been administered, the account can be closed with a check written to the beneficiary.”

Where the spouse or domestic partner is the sole beneficiary but there is no will, and where the value of the decedent’s estate does not exceed $50,000, there is a procedure for transfer of the assets by affidavit without a full administration, Romania said. A similar procedure is available for other next of kin where the value of decedent’s estate does not exceed $20,000, she said.

“The procedure for administration of a small estate where there is no will avoids the need to post a bond and may otherwise reduce the expenses of administration,” she said.

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This story was originally published on May 4, 2023. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.