Endorsing Checks With Two Names After Marriage

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As many of you know, I recently got married to the love of my life (awwww!) and had a wonderful wedding and reception this past weekend. Everyone had a blast, we had a blast, and all in all I think the entire weekend went very very well considering the magnitude (both in size and importance!). Anyway, with a wedding comes gifts and some gave a gift in the form of a check.

Why is this worth mentioning? As you can probably tell from the title, the tricky part was in the fact that the checks were made out to my name and my wife’s name. That, in and of itself, is not big deal except they put it in my wife’s new (and, dare I say, better) name, which is not the name on our joint account. So, in the eyes of both the state and the bank, one of the person’s listed on the “Pay To The Order Of” line doesn’t actually exist. So, what were we to do? There are in fact two solutions.

Change Account Name

One solution is to change her name from her maiden name to her new (better) name and all we need for that is the marriage certificate. With the account name changed, she would simply sign the back of the checks in her new name and be done with it.

Double Endorse The Check

The other, far easier, solution would be for her to sign the check twice: first with her new name (name on the check), then with her old name (name on the account). While this struck me as a bit shady, it seemed to be the typical result. If the two names were in fact two different people, this is how we would’ve signed the checks to deposit them into the account. When she signed her new name, she was endorsing the check for deposit anywhere (you can write, “For Deposit Only” on the check to force it into an account your name only). It seemed tricky but the Bank of America tellers (two at two different branches) seemed to think that was business as usual and an accepted practice. Either way, no one will be disputing the deposits so it’s no big deal either way.

After those shenanigans, I needed to sign the check in order to deposit it. If a check has two names (with an “and” between them, rather than an “or”), both have to endorse the check before it can be cashed, deposited, etc.

{ 41 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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41 Responses to “Endorsing Checks With Two Names After Marriage”

  1. Posco says:

    When we were married, we received a number of checks, some payable to me, some payable to my wife with her maiden name, some payable to “Mr and Mrs – my name”, and some as you mentioned, with both of our names. We opened a joint account with both of our married names. We kept her old bank account with the maiden name open for some time to handle the checks addressed to her. I have not seen anyone write a check to Mr. Husband and Mrs. Wife-with-maiden-name.

    How strict are banks on the naming of the payee these days? Back when I was a kid, my brothers and I formed a musical ensemble and played at some gigs. Some parties inadvertently paid us with checks payable to our ensemble’s name. My mom had little trouble explaining the situation and instructing the teller to deposit the check by splitting the amount across all of our individual checking accounts.

  2. David says:

    We never had any issues with needing both signatures. Even today we still get checks made out to both of us, and as long as one of us signs it, the bank doesn’t care.

    Congrats on getting married, I hope you had a great time!

  3. Tameika says:

    Why can’t you just deposit the check by writing “For Deposit Only” on the endorsement line? That’s what we did. No problem and the checks went through just fine.

  4. giles says:

    to this day we still have only one person sign checks made out to both of us, and we haven’t had a problem.

    also, checks were made out to Mr. & Mrs. __ at our wedding,e ven though she didn’t change her name. Still no problem.

    I tend to think tellers aren’t responsible for that. Am I being to harsh? I think it’s the giver’s responsibility to make sure the check was not deposited into someone’s account who it wasn’t intended for.

  5. Adfecto says:

    One of the funny things I learned when my wife and I got married is that there is nothing “special” you need to do in order to change your name. In fact, in all of the places I’ve lived, if you start calling yourself by a new name and using it for documents it becomes a “new name” that is equally valid to your “old name.” I was surprised that there isn’t some official court proceeding that is needed to complete this process. Thus, there is no reason why your wife could not simply sign only her maiden name and deposit the checks. Deposit of a check does not have to go into an account with a matching name as long as it is endorsed. Her old name is still valid no matter if she is now married. The only time this is not true is with the Social Security Administration and your state issue ID which make you pick a name to be printed on your card, but even those don’t really matter.

  6. jim says:

    I talked to my mom about this and she actually said that my cousin, who was new to the country and never had checks because of her age, didn’t even know you were supposed to sign them. Checks had been written, cashed, and everything without her signature on them. How scary is that?

  7. justme says:

    We didn’t have any problems with this either. One or both of us just signed the back and deposited the money. To this day I have still have checks with my maiden name on them and I don’t have any problems using those either.

  8. Stngy1 says:

    A bit off topic, but we ran into a potentially awkward situation with an account listed in the name of our living trust. Because of the lack of a sentence within the trust documents, I was almost unable to deposit a check issued, in my name alone, from that account. In truly anti-Orwellian fashion ( or right hand/left hand issues), the solution was to deposit through an ATM. No one noticed. Same thing happened with joint checks, checks for a large sum, etc. Those who handle ATM stuff really haven’t seemed to care about the nuances of legal documentation.

  9. First, Congratulations!

    Second, I’m sure you probably already know this, but I thought I’d throw it out there. I was told when hubby and I got our joint checking account to make sure that the checks read Jenn or Bill, not Jenn and Bill. Supposedly if the check says “and” that would mean that both parties need to sign the check when it is written to make it valid.

    Don’t know if it is true or not, but we went with “or” just to be safe.

  10. The Law that governs commercial paper (a fancy name for all types of negotiable paper, including checks is the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). (The UCC with minor changes is adopted in virtually, if not every state). According to the UCC, a bank can actually endorse a check on behalf of the depositor if the check is deposited in an account bearing that person’s name. As an extra safeguard, however, many banks will not do this. Theoretically you can simply walk into a bank with a check made out to you and deposit it into your account – with no signature whatsoever. The best place to try it is at an ATM. (Simply deposit a check made out to you into your checking account without endorsing it). Banks tend to be more lax here because they don’t want to go through the hassle of dishonoring the check (which costs administrative dollars).

    This is also true for husband and wife couples where the check is made out with an “AND” instead of an “OR” — technically, if it is being deposited into a joint account, neither one of you needs to sign it. But, some banks don’t honor this, and some tellers don’t really understand the law. Drives me nuts whenever my wife tries to deposit a check made out to both of us.

  11. I had an interesting case because I was changing my last AND first name — but I didn’t do either for a few years after getting married, even though I had been going my future first name unofficially for a year and people assumed that I took my husband’s last name immediately (I didn’t because I wanted to change it all at the same time).

    So, in most cases, I was depositing checks that didn’t have my legal first or last name on them.

    Needless to say, I was nervous about how that was going to work.

    The scary part is that I didn’t have trouble depositing any of them. I submitted them via ATM and never had a single issue.

  12. I had the same problem. You would think people would realize her name is going to change. Oh well. Anyway, congrats!

  13. RacerX says:

    The important part first…Congratulations!

    Every new couple goes through this. We had an issue with a Credit Card that wouldn’t take the change, and had to fight them as they were pulling all kinds of games to have us hit late fees…No more CC issues thank goodness

  14. Patrick says:

    Congrats, Jim!

    We had checks made out to both of us, maiden name, new name, just one of us, etc. We just called our bank, explained the situation and they made a note in our account. We mailed them all in at once (we don’t have a local branch), and they took care of everything. They were very accommodating. 🙂

  15. Molly says:

    We had no trouble depositing checks made out to all combinations of our names (correct and incorrect), including one made out to Myfirstname & Hisfirstname, with no last names at all (older, slightly crazy relative), and one made out to me and an incorrect name for my husband (since one relative was kind enough to give us a gift despite not knowing my husband’s first name, apparently). All of these checks were signed by one or the other of us, with our current legal name (no matter what was on the check) and happily accepted by a cashier at Bank of America. It’s definitely a scary thought, but that laxness worked in our favor in this case.

  16. Geoff says:

    Considering that I know people who have successfully deposited checks that were made out to someone else (accidently), and that my wife had a paycheck that someone else accidently deposited successfully into their own account, I don’t think most banks care who signs it.

  17. I kept my maiden name after I got married, but we often get checks addressed to Mr and Mrs. My-Husbands-Last-Name. I’ve never had any problem depositing these.

    One thing you can do, whether you change your name or not, is set up an “alias” name with your bank. That way, whether the check is made out to your new name, former name, or husband’s name that you didn’t take, you won’t have a problem.

  18. pfodyssey says:

    I like how you said “some” were checks. I’ll best most, by a mile. Also, I was SHOCKED that you thought signing a bazillion checks TWICE was better than just getting the account changed. Of course, it was your wife who had to sign those checks, not you!

    The recall of signing all of those checks when I got married both hurts my hand and blurs my vision. Of course, a newlywed husband worth his salt would have offered to sign some of those for her. Of course, admittedly, I was more partial to pepper (did not think to do such a thing myself).

    Congratulations again and look forward to the day very soon where she will be signing both your names all the time (more efficient that way).

  19. thomas says:

    my wife’s grandmother still sends her checks with her maiden name. We’ve never had a problem cashing it.

  20. My wife and I were just married about 9 months ago and it was the same scenario. We had absolutely zero problems. The banks really don’t seem to have an issue when making deposits. She simply deposited the checks signing both her maiden name and new, (better ;), name as your’s did.


  21. MoneyNing says:

    In general, US banks don’t really care about the actual names. They let you deposit it and then will just complain when the person who sent it complains.

  22. Carol says:

    I have a similar problem. I am divorced and my ex recieved an insurance rebate check made out in both of our names. But he refuses to endorse it saying he rather give up his half just so I won’t get any!! Does anyone know what to do about this? Would it be possible for me to deposit it in my account if only I endorse it. I would appreciate comments about this.

  23. TrayCee says:

    Can somebody help me with my situation? My husband has a bank account in his name only and I have for months wrote checks off his account signing his name with his permission of course, however, he has recently had an affair and got caught and he is now telling me he is going to file fraud charges against me for writing checks off his account. I am very worried that I am going to be in serious trouble for this. We live in Colorado and I am not familiar with all the laws here. The thing is I have wrote checks off this account for months yet he is just now going to say that I did this without his permission. The bank has never questioned it but I fear they will back him as it is I’m sure a liability. Please help me with some advice if you have any.

  24. mike says:

    i have a question, my fiance and i are about to get a nice check from my pops for an apartment we found, and he is making it out to me and her with both our names on it. is this gonna be problem when depositing it?

  25. Linda says:

    I have a problem. My disaster insurance check was made out in my ex-husbands’s name and my name with an “and” in the middle. I am having trouble cashing this with the bank of America. They say both parties have to come into the office. My ex refuses to do this. He’s being nasty. Long story but I’ve already tried depositing it into the ATM. It was declined and mailed back. Everybody that I’ve spoken to cannot believe that This bank that I’ve dealt with for more than a decade is doing this. I went to the bank on the check but they said that they check should be written out as “or” instead. Can a check be written out as “and/or”. Help me I need to make repairs on my house and yard.

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