There may be times when you want to sign over a check to someone else, rather than cash it or deposit it into your own bank account.
This might come up if you are unable to get to the bank, or in the event that a check has been erroneously made payable to you while the money is owed to someone else.
You might also consider signing over a check if the money in the check will ultimately be given a third party after the check clears.
To sign a check over to someone else, however, you have to follow a few simple steps to make sure that the check can be processed by the person you’re giving it to.
For example, because the check is currently payable to you, you will want to make sure the third party and their bank is willing to accept a signed-over check, also known as a “third-party check.”
You’ll also need to sign the check and make it payable to the third party.
Here’s a quick guide to how to endorse checks to someone else, plus some safeguards to consider before accepting a check that has been signed over to you.
5 Steps to Signing Over a Check
Generally, when someone writes you a check, you’re the only person who can cash it or deposit it into your bank account.
There are, however, ways you may be able to get around this. These five steps detail the process of signing over a check to a third party.
Step 1. Make Sure the Check is Still Good
Before you begin the process of signing over a check, it’s a good idea to take a look at the date it was written by the payer, especially if the check has been lying around for a while.
Generally, both corporate and personal checks are good for six months. After that, the bank may refuse to accept it.
If the bank does accept a check older than six months, the check could potentially bounce if the issuer no longer has the funds in their account.
Step 2. Get the Okay From the Recipient
Before endorsing a check to a third party, whether that’s a person, a business, or a landlord, it can be wise to first reach out to that third party and confirm that they are open to accepting this form of payment.
When moving through the signing over process, it’s important that you and the recipient both agree to the transfer.
Step 3. Verify the Bank Will Allow It
Banks often have different rules and requirements when it comes to accepting third-party checks.
To help ensure the process will go smoothly, it can be a good idea to call the recipient’s bank and ask about their policies before you endorse the check.
That way, you can avoid adding extra signatures and names to the back of the check (which can create confusion and delays if you later need to cash or deposit it somewhere else).
You may also want to find out what kind of identification the recipient will need to bring to the bank, or if there is anything special they should do or know before bringing the check to the bank.
Step 4. Endorse The Check Correctly
Checks that typically come in your checkbook have an area on the back that reads “Endorse Check Here.”
On the line just below that, you will want to sign your name in pen, writing it just as it appears on the front of the check.
Underneath your signature, you’ll then want to write, “Pay to the order of [Recipient’s name].”
It’s a good idea to clearly write out the recipient’s name as it appears on their driver’s license or other photo identification they will use at the bank when depositing the check.
Check’s often say “do not write, stamp or sign below this line” beneath the endorsement area. You’ll want to try to avoid running into this area. If you do, the bank may refuse the check.
Step 5. Transfer the Check
Once you’ve endorsed the check, you will have a “third party check” that you can give to the person you signed it over to so that they cash or deposit the check into their bank account.
While it may not be essential, you may also want to consider accompanying the recipient to their bank with your own photo identification to ensure it’s a seamless transaction, and in case the bank teller has any questions.
If you decide you will be going to the bank together, you may want to hold off signing over the check until you get there. That way, you can endorse the check right in front of the teller after showing your ID.
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Can You Deposit Someone Else’s Check in Your Account?
Depending on your bank, you may or may not be able to deposit or cash a check that has been signed over to you.
As mentioned above, some banks might not want to accept an endorsed-to-you check because there’s a chance it could be a fraudulent check. Many check-cashing places won’t accept this form of a check either.
That’s why it’s a good idea to check with your bank before accepting a third-party check as a form of payment.
In addition, you may want to keep these other considerations in mind before accepting a signed-over check, as opposed to one written directly to you.
• They can be less convenient. Unlike a regular check, you typically can’t deposit a third-party check at an ATM, or upload it via your bank’s mobile deposit app. Getting the check cashed or deposited generally requires a trip to the bank.
• It could be a scam. There are lots of fake check scams out there, and you could become a victim of one if someone you don’t know offers to sign over a check to you–often for a large amount–as payment or in exchange for cash. That’s why it can be wise to only accept an endorsed check from a person you know and trust or verify the check before depositing.
• It could potentially bounce. Even if you know and trust the person who is signing the check over to you, there may still be a bit of risk involved. That’s because you can’t be certain the original person who wrote the check has the funds to cover it. If they don’t, the check will bounce and you won’t get the money.
It’s perfectly legal to sign over a check to a third party.
If they are willing to accept this form of payment and their banking institution doesn’t have an issue taking the check, this could be an easy and seamless transaction for both parties.
If someone is offering to sign a check over to you, you may want to make sure it’s a person you know and trust, that your bank will accept it, and the original person who wrote the check can likely cover it.
You’ll typically receive the money faster, however, from a check made out directly to you.
To get real-time mobile alerts when a check has cleared, consider signing up for a online checking and savings account with SoFi.
With SoFi Checking and Savings, you’ll have access to paper checks, and can also make no-cost, peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers to anyone with a US-based bank account right from your phone.
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