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Thread: North Carolina: paycheck distribution for deceased (?) employee

  1. #1

    Default North Carolina: paycheck distribution for deceased (?) employee

    One of our managers received a telephone call from a person identifying herself as the sister of one of our part time, seasonal employees. She told her the employee is now deceased and asked that her last paycheck me mailed to herself rather than the address in our database. This is obviously problematic on several levels, including establishing that the information is true, that the person who called is her sister, and if so, whether it is appropriate to send the check to her.
    Would someone kindly suggest proper and legal protocol? The safest course would seem to be to just mail the check to the address the employee had given us, but can we legally consider a request like this from a family member? If so, what documentation would we require? Death certificate and, I don't know, Power of Attorney???
    I've never encountered this situation before, but there must be a default protocol. Help?

  2. #2
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    I don't know what happens at the Payroll end. However, for the payout of any death benefits, the cancellation of health insurance, etc., we require a copy of the death certificate. We'll also look online for obituaries and have been known to ask to see a copy of the program for the funeral service.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

  3. #3

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    Part time, seasonal employee, so no benefits. I just don't want to hand over her paycheck to someone whom we don't even know to be her sister, without confirming she's really her sister and she's really deceased. I'll try googling for an obituary. That's a good start. (Thanks!)

  4. #4
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    You can still ask for a death certificate or a funeral bulletin.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

  5. #5

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    We found the obituary, so we know she is deceased. It just seems that if we will only hand a paycheck to the person whose name is on it when they are alive, there must some legality about mailing it to a random person who claims to be her sister. That just doesn't feel right. I'm thinking we should just mail it to the address on the check or ask the person who says she's the sister to come pick it up and show ID.

  6. #6
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    The state probably has rules (not my state, no idea what they are). And you can always "esheat" the funds to the state if you are not sure.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

  7. #7
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    Pay nothing to anyone other than the employee or the employee's estate. You don't know this is the sister or what the employee's family situation and estate situation might be. The last thing you want is to pay the sister, then have the brother show up next week looking the same, and the following week the long estranged child. https://cs.thomsonreuters.com/suppor...statechart.pdf
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

  8. #8
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    The payment belongs to the person's estate, so giving it to any individual who is not the decedent's personal representative (executor, administrator or trustee, depending on how the estate is distributed) would expose you to liability. It is certainly possible that the decedent's left no will and the estate is so small that even filing a small estate affidavit (or similar document) is more trouble than it is worth for the heirs, but that gives you a problem.

    At a minimum, I would ask for a death certificate and Letters of Office or the equivalent in your state. If the person says that there is no probate estate and that she is the sole heir, and the obituary seems to support her claim (i.e., it doesn't list other family members who would seem to be equally entitled to the money), then you need to determine whether, from a practical standpoint, running the risk of paying the check twice is a less costly option for your company than spending time trying to gather the proper documentation to justify the payment to the sister. If her claim sounds like it is not backed up by the facts, then you have to think further about what supporting documentation you are willing to accept.
    David K. Staub (www.illinoisbusinessattorney.com)
    Forum posts are not legal advice, are for informational and educational purposes only, and are not a substitute for proper consultation with legal counsel.

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