My mother passed away without a will, and her house is underwater. We are going to let the bank have the house. She had a loan with life insurance and they sent a check made to her estate. Can we use it to pay for the funeral. We have not went to probate since there is nothing other than the house.
You will need to contact a probate attorney. T.C.A. 30-2-317 states that "reasonable" funeral expenses are to be paid ahead of almost every other creditor. And T.C.A. 45-2-708 allows a bank to pay money from a decedent's bank account so long as the amount is under $10,000 to certain people or creditors, including funeral homes. Hopefully between these laws, the probate attorney can figure a way to use the funds to pay the funeral home.
First things first: You are going to need to open an estate in order to deposit or cash the check. A check made to the Estate can only be endorsed by the Administrator. If there is no estate open, there is no administrator.
If I were you, I would call Matthew Duggin in Knoxville at (865) 357-9988. He'll help you figure it out.
Mr. Cannon is right. If you want to negotiate that check, you're going to need to deal with the probate court.
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