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My mother recently died. At her home we found an uncashed cashiers check that is 11 months old. The check was given to her by her sister (my aunt). It was a disbursement from my mother’s own inheritance when my grandmother died last year. The check lists as payable two lines. Line one is [my mothers name]. Line two says something like beneficiary 1987 [my grandmothers] trust. My aunt was the executor of my grandmothers estate and is a beneficiary of the trust. My questions are:

  1. How can we cash the check? Will the bank let me cash it? Can my aunt cash it as a beneficary of the trust?

  2. We live in California and probate is triggered for estates valued over 150k. Must the money from this check be included in her estate with respect to probate?

  • You'll need to add the age of the check. If it's been sitting around for years, it may be worthless. – Xalorous Nov 20 '17 at 21:47
  • @Xalorous it was written after "grandmother died last year" so it could be over a year old which might require a new check but it's not years old. OP, yes, it's part of the estate. – mkennedy Nov 20 '17 at 23:08
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    Added check age – mrjrdnthms Nov 21 '17 at 1:41
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Generally cashiers checks do not expire, since they are "like cash" and fully funded at the time of issue. However, whether they can be cashed after a long period of time (and also what the definition of "long" is) depends on the bank. Eventually, if left uncashed it probably would be escheated to the state to wait for someone to claim it. Being that it's been less than a year I expect it could be cashed by the payee written on the check without any issues.

If the payee is deceased then the check can be cashed by the estate, as it should be considered the property of the estate the same way it would be if it had already been cashed and was now sitting in a bank account in your mother's name. Under normal circumstances the "estate" in this case would go to your mother's spouse first, then to you (and your siblings if you have any), unless there is a will specifying otherwise. The only way your aunt would be able to deposit the check on her own is if she was listed as an "OR" on the check, or if she is the executor of OP's mother's estate. It sounds like the second line of the check is indeed referring to your aunt, however, from your description of the check it sounds like the second line is simply a designation of what the check is for rather than an additional payee. I bet a probate attorney in your state could easily tell by simply looking at the check.

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