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What is the correct way for a wife, with her husband’s permission, to endorse (sign for deposit) his work check into her bank account?

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    There is no correct way unless the "her" bank account is actually a joint account with her husband, perhaps with her name being the first one on the account. Note to US readers: In some countries, a joint account is treated (in practice if not in law) as the sole property of the first-named account holder and the other owners have lesser rights. – Dilip Sarwate Aug 4 '16 at 13:16
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    The husband indicates permission by signing first in the endorsement area – user662852 Aug 4 '16 at 13:46
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    Which country are you in? Do you have a joint account with your husband? – Ben Miller Aug 4 '16 at 14:08
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    This question needs a country tagging. These regulations vary from country to country. – Mindwin Aug 4 '16 at 19:41
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    @BenMiller : based on my previous experience, pretty close to 100% of all questions which might heavily depend on local jurisdiction but don't specify a country, are from the USA. – vsz Aug 4 '16 at 20:57
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With a power of attorney in place you can sign your own signature and print the following below: [your husbands name] by [your name] as Attorney In Fact

If you endorse a lot of checks, it might be worth the investment to get a rubber stamp made that has the printed portion. I did that while my brother was overseas for a lengthy military deployment and mostly I did it because people felt like the stamp was more official, so I didn't have to do as much explaining all the time.

Be ready with a copy of the power of attorney for any who ask. Many institutions will make a photocopy to keep on file the first time you do this.

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    "Many institutions will make a photocopy to keep on file" -- and then lose it and ask for another one. And then say actually, they also need to see two forms of identification even though the first person you spoke to swore on their mother's life they only needed one. And then say they forgot to give you form 47b to fill out, which they need in order to recognise the PoA. And then lose that. When they finally start accepting instructions, there's a reasonable chance all you'll want to do is close the account and tell them to stick it ;-) – Steve Jessop Aug 4 '16 at 22:49
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    @SteveJessop - Yes, I experienced this and was given the advice to get a rubber stamp by an estate attorney, and inexplicably, the need to fill out forms and other policies were conveniently forgotten in many cases. It was like night and day. Anyone can print anything on a rubber stamp, but apparently they lend a real air of respectability. If I were inclined to commit fraud, a rubber stamp would definitely be involved in the con somehow. If I didn't experience it myself, I would never believe it. – Nathan L Aug 5 '16 at 14:26
  • Could be a regional thing though. Who knows? – Nathan L Aug 5 '16 at 14:28
  • Power of Attorney signatures vary by state. In DE, the attorney-in-fact is required to sign "[Customer's Name] by [Your Name] as Agent" – Noah Aug 5 '16 at 20:01
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    One cannot help but be reminded of the origin of the idiomatic use of "rubber stamp" to describe the approval of something without due consideration. – heropup Dec 5 '18 at 10:37
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What you are describing may be forgery, which is a felony in most states. Only the payee can endorse a check. For anyone other than the payee to endorse a check is a serious crime and you can be sent to jail for it. Having a "joint account" is irrelevant. A joint account just lets multiple parties withdraw money from the same account. A joint account in no way allows one person to sign legal documents for the other parties in the account.

The only way to sign for someone else is if you have a valid POWER OF ATTORNEY. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives a person the power to legally act in lieu of another person. Normally a power of attorney is notarized and and gives specific powers. If you create a power of attorney, it would be wise to have a lawyer draft it, because if you make a mistake you can become liable for serious criminal charges.

If you have a power of attorney authorizing you to receive payments made out to another party, you would endorse a check by writing "For John Smith, Dawn Smith, by power of attorney" or something similar. You would have to present the power of attorney at the bank at the time the check is deposited for the bank to accept it.

  • Why would it be forgery if the wife puts her signature onto someone else's check as opposed to an irrelevant signature (i.e. wrong person signed - the important signature is still missing)? I'd have thought that the difficulty in depositing to a joint account is not because it is a joint account but because it is a check to the husband and therefore the husband's signature (endorsement) is needed to make it payable to anyone else (including making it payable to the bank). – cbeleites Aug 5 '16 at 11:36
  • @cbeleites Only the payee can endorse a check. If anyone other than the payee endorses a check and attempts to deposit it, then it is an act of forgery. – Five Bagger Aug 5 '16 at 12:01
  • Sure the signature of the owner (husband) is needed. But forgery implies a signature intended to deceive. But the correct endorsement chain for the check "company: wage of Husband" would be "I give/endorse this check to Wife, signed Husband" and "deposit to wife-account. Signature Wife". So a check with only endorsement Wife -> Wife's account is missing the husband's endorsement to wife. But - unless wife draws something that she intends to look like the signature of the husband (which was not suggested in the question) - there is no intention to deceive. – cbeleites Aug 5 '16 at 12:40
  • ... in other words, I think for a check missing the husband -> wife endorsement but having the wife -> wife's account endorsement, the (payer) bank can refuse payment. But they cannot call the police. – cbeleites Aug 5 '16 at 12:44
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    @FiveBagger, I'm curious now about the details. Do you have the statute? – Karen Aug 5 '16 at 13:49
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If it's also his bank account (a joint account), no endorsement is necessary. Simply print or stamp "for deposit only" in the area where you would normally sign to endorse, and deposit it. I never endorse checks; aside from it being a nuisance and waste of time, it also results in the payer receiving a copy of your signature along with their bank statement, which is not something you might want anyone you've received a check from to have.

If the bank does not accept "for deposit only" checks into a joint account, but does accept them into a single-individual account, one solution might be having two accounts and simply transferring the money via online banking once the deposit is made.

  • That depends on the policies of the bank - my bank rejects unsigned check deposits to our joint account, even if they say "For Deposit Only", so my wife learned how to sign my name. (which is likely a federal crime) – Johnny Aug 4 '16 at 19:13
  • @Johnny: Certainly they don't make businesses do that too. Perhaps they want you to use an official-looking stamp? – R.. Aug 4 '16 at 19:17
  • @R - Business accounts have different policies than personal accounts. – Johnny Aug 4 '16 at 19:19
  • I use my bank's mobile app and I don't sign anything on the back. It's harder to enforce those policies with an app. – Nathan L Aug 4 '16 at 19:29
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    @NathanL - that's how we deposit too -- through the bank's mobile app, but our bank won't accept deposits unless they are signed by the person the check was made out to. Their customer service rep was very clear about that. So again, it depends on your bank's policies. – Johnny Aug 4 '16 at 19:33
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First: I recommend simply calling the bank in question and asking as this may be bank policy dependant.

That said, it's almost certainly simple (at least in the US), assuming you are putting it into his account or a joint account. If it's a separate account, he will need to use "special endorsement" to endorse it to the wife, but he will have to sign. Do not try to deposit it into a personal account that he is not on with someone else's signature.

if husband's name is on the account

I live outside the US, but do a lot of work in the US. I often have checks sent to me at a family member's house in the US which is in a different state from my bank. The instructions my bank gave to me to allow them to mail the check to the bank were:

print your name and write below that "FOR DEPOSIT ONLY" and your account number and we can make the deposit for you

here "your" should refer to the person the check is written to (so in this case "your" is the husband).

This has worked for several checks without trouble.

if husband is not on the account

He needs to endorse it to you. So he writes on the back:

pay to the order of
[wife's name]
signature

  • @keshlam Can you provide a source? I've done this a few years ago when I had one organization pay for my travel and then another try to reimburse me for it. I just endorsed the check to the original payer. I can't find any source suggesting it's changed (not saying you're wrong, but would like to see a more definitive answer). – Joel Aug 5 '16 at 7:44
  • Actually, I think you're right. There were some changes made but I don't think this is affected. – keshlam Aug 5 '16 at 13:04
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If you do not have a power of attorney like the answers listed above, the closest you can get to do this is have him deposit the check and then write you a check for the same amount. You can also have him cash the check and give you the money.

Also, if you do decide to get the power of attorney, you need to tell the bank because they have to edit the account to show you as the power of attorney. Just showing up with the check at the drive-thru with the check and the POA will not do. After filing it with the bank, then you just have to show your license, like you should have to anyway, when you go to deposit checks.

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protected by Chris W. Rea Dec 27 '18 at 13:02

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