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My girlfriend (over 18) is estranged from her parents, but recently discovered money in her name in the form of stocks. She sold the stocks, but the company that handled the transaction sent a check with her father's name as well (with an "and" between the names). When she went to deposit the check, they demanded to see his ID and signature as well (which she obviously doesn't have).

She endorsed it already (not knowing this would happen), so she can't mail it off to him (otherwise he will cash it in his account). She's reasonably certain he won't do anything to help her get this money.

The issuer of the check said they can't/won't change it to "or" so now the money is basically in limbo. What course of action should she take? Is it possible for her to, say, un-endorse the check until she gets the other signature? Can she somehow be guaranteed that she can access the money and he won't dispose or himself cash it out?

  • What kind of account is the brokerage account? It seems odd that a minor would have a joint account with a parent -- usually these are UTMA/UGMA accounts. – duffbeer703 Jan 19 '12 at 3:13
  • She had a a UTMA as well, and that went through fine (as legally, the parent has no claim to the money once she became of age). However, in recent times her parents have basically disowned her (after being abusive), not even willing to give information for her to complete her FAFSA. – Jerr Jan 19 '12 at 3:25
  • Is it a lot of money? There might be a court option (although probably not worth it if it's a small amount of money) – webwake May 9 '17 at 21:12
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She can't do anything about having the details on the check (or cheque as we say in Australia) changed, as the shares were in joint names so the check has to be in the same names. The shares were obviously bought for her by her father probably as a gift or as a notion of helping her start her adult life or so she would have a little nest egg for the future. Now you are saying that she doesn't trust her father to sign over the check for her to collect the money, but unless she talks to him about it the money will be lost anyway.

So either she will appreciate what he had done for her in the first place (buying the shares in her name) and thanks him for them and asks if he could sign the check over to her so she can collect the money, and even if he disagrees at least she would have heard his side of the story. On the other hand, if it is too much for her to talk to him about, then just forget about the check and the money. I wouldn't be accepting gifts from someone I disliked!

  • very well said. One can not have the best of both the world. – Natwar Lath Jan 19 '12 at 15:52
  • Even if she does speak to him, what can be done to the check (let's assume he does "agree" to let her have it) so that it gets signed over to her and doesn't get deposited into their accounts? The parents live halfway across the country. The only thing I seemed to have found would be a note saying she may cash that check, signed and notarized by him. – Jerr Jan 19 '12 at 19:05
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    @Jerr - Ask the bank to find out what they would need since he is across the country. If he agrees to sign it she can write for deposit only with bank name, account number in the endorsement. Generally the bank will allow a deposit into an account owned by the person the check is written to with out ID her father may need to show his though if he can submit it at a branch near him. – user4127 Jan 19 '12 at 20:48
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    If the issue is not trusting him, have the brokerage re-issue the check, then send it to him and have him endorse it first. There may be a free to cancel the check. – Phil Sandler Jan 21 '12 at 17:24
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If the brokerage account was in both of their names they any proceeds would belong to both of them. If the brokerage firm were to issue your girlfriend a check with just her name then they could be liable for that same amount again to her father. So while technically they could, the firm is never going to issue a new check with out her father having his name removed from the account(something he would have to be a part of and may be against the firm's policies).

If your girlfriend really wants/needs the money in the account she is going to have to deal with her father. If the money is not worth the hassle of trying to deal with her father she could just send the check to him. However if it is just that she does not believe her father will help her then she should reach out. Estrangement is hard on both sides and she may be underestimating her father. I know I often underestimated what lengths my parents were willing to go to help me.

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I know you have already accepted an answer, but I think I might have something to add.

I recently closed out a couple of accounts that my parents setup for me as college fund accounts. One of them was specifically listed as a "custodial gift to minor" account. If she is of legal age and the stocks were in this sort of form, the bank is required by law to remove the fathers name from the checks. When I went through the process of trying to do this the bank was very reluctant to do so and finally told me that they had no proof of my age and so I would need to provide this proof before they would remove my fathers name. I am still close to my parents so it ended up just being easier to get him to sign the check for me.

If the account isn't structured in this sort of way, then you will pretty much be out of luck and have to follow what the others have said.

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