Can I cash a check made out to my husband's name?

You cannot cash a check payable to your husband unless you are acting as his power of attorney. The Uniform Commercial Code, which is the basis for states' check cashing laws, says that only the named payee of a check may cash it. However, you can cash a check made payable to both you and your husband if your names are separated by the word "or." If your names are separated by the word "and," you cannot cash the check unless you are with your husband.

Power Of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a document that gives an individual the power to act on another individual's behalf. Typical POA powers include the ability to transact on bank accounts. Military personnel often establish POAs before being stationed overseas so that loved ones can access their accounts at home. In order to use a POA, you must first provide your bank with a certified copy of the POA agreement. The bank's compliance department must ensure the POA complies with state laws before allowing you to transact on the account. If the bank approves the POA, you can cash checks made payable to your husband as well as performing other transactions on his behalf.

Joint Account

You cannot cash a check payable to your husband at your own bank even if you and he own an account jointly. However, you can deposit the check into the account by writing "deposit only" on the bank. Having made the deposit, you can make a withdrawal for an amount equal to the check you deposited. If your bank does not make deposits immediately available for use, you should wait until the next business day before making the withdrawal.

Known Customers

Most banks enable branch managers to use their discretion when handling unusual situations. If you have held your accounts at a particular bank for a long time, the branch manager may allow you to cash a check on your husband's behalf. However, you cannot forge his signature, so you can only cash a check that he has already signed. The branch manager who approves the transaction assumes responsibility for the check: If your husband later claims you had no right to cash the check, the branch manager could end up being fired. Therefore, branch managers seldom use their discretionary powers to approve transactions.


Banks have no way of knowing whether the person named on a check wishes the person presenting the check to cash it. A couple with a joint account can have a falling out and decide to get divorced, but it could take a few weeks or longer for either spouse to close the account. In the meantime, the husband or wife could steal one another's paychecks if rules did not exist that limited the ability of people to cash checks payable to other people.

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