My husband died ten months ago (no probate, small estate). Of course no joint bank account now exists. The check is from the hospital he worked for and they say it has to be made out to him. I've tried my bank and the bank it's drawn on and they say they can't help. I'm at a dead-end.
This is a tough situation. You could start an account for the estate. Then with a small estate affidavit, you could then pay it out to the proper beneficiaries of his estate. This is very state specific, and I hope a CA attorney chimes in.