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Cashing a check payable to the estate of ??

Scottsdale, AZ |

My mother passed away 1 1/2 years ago. I have a home insurance claim and the check is coming to her / her estate. Both she and I were on the deed to the home along with my sister. I have tried to get the insurance policy changed to my name but seem to have issues. I have no idea what I need to do next. I am in Arizona.

Attorney Answers 3


You should write the insurance company a letter explaining that you and your sister are the surviving joint tenants on the real estate and that the proceeds should be paid outright to the two of you. You could send them a copy of the deed. However, this may not help since the policy is in your mom's name.

If the letter fails, you need to probate your mom's will in the county where she died. This will allow the estate to be opened and an estate account can be established. Once the account is established you can deposit the proceeds into the estate account and then distribute the proceeds in accordance with the will, after paying all estate liabilities.

Hope this helps.

Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law in PA. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

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You will need to prove to the insurance company that you are your mom's successor in interest. This could be as simple as providing a death certificate and an affidavit. If this method works, they will reissue the check in you and your sister's name.

However, the bigger issue is the legal title to the house. Who owns your mom's interest at her death and how does it transfer? You will need an Arizona attorney to review this issue with you. It may require a probate.

Best wishes,

Derek W. Jensen, JD, LLM
Managing Attorney

Jensen Law Office, PLLC
Seattle, Washington
Tel: 206-547-1412

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this post or transmitted by email should be interpreted as legal advice unless I have been retained and you have made a deposit towards my fees. This post is intended to help the person posting the question to ask the right questions with the attorney of their choice. This posting is for educational purposes only. Your time to act may be very limited and this could substantially reduce your rights and options. Do NOT rely on anything I have written here -- You should contact a lawyer in your area immediately after reading my posting.

The following disclosure is required pursuant to IRS Circular 230: unless otherwise expressly indicated, any federal tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended or written to be used, and may not be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.

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If the amount of the check is less than $50,000, and the rest of your mother's property has already been transferred, you can prepare a small estate transfer affidavit under Arizona law. Sometimes it is difficult to get a non-Arizona company to recognize a valid Arizona transfer affidavit: having an attorney help you with the affidavit and/or the letter to the insurance company may be helpful.

Alternately, a simple probate or intestacy proceeding will cost a few thousand dollars, but will let you open a bank account and cash the check in a few weeks without having to go 10 rounds with the insurance company.

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