Here are different ways to cash a check for someone in jail:
- Deposit the check into their bank account
- Use their debit card
- They should fully endorse it into a third-party check
- Becoming a Power of Attorney for that person
It is important to note though these may be dependent on a number of factors including:
- The type of check
- Laws governing the state in which the person is in jail
- Access to personal information like a PIN code
- Bank requirements and regulations
Remember that you don’t need to be married or related to the person in jail to be able to cash a check for them.
Who can cash a check for someone in jail?
If they need help and are willing to give you relevant information, you may be able to help them, regardless of how you know them.
Exactly how you can help them, however, depends on whether you can obtain their signature on the check, if they have a bank account, if you have access to their debit card, or if they have granted you power of attorney.
How to deposit a check for an incarcerated person who has a bank account
If you are in possession of the check and have knowledge of the incarcerated person’s bank account number, you can simply write their name, account number, and “For Deposit Only” on the back of the check.
This is called a restrictive endorsement. It means that the funds designated on the check can only go into the payee’s bank account.
When writing on the back of the check, just be sure to keep it contained in the area designated for a signature. This is usually the far-right hand side on the back of the check, above the line.
After doing this, you can then deposit the check into the jailed person’s bank account using a generic deposit slip at the bank.
With this method, you will not be able to retrieve any portion of the check amount in cash. All the funds will be deposited directly into the person’s bank account.
How to cash a check for someone with their debit card
If you have access to someone’s debit card, regardless of whether they are in jail or not, you will also require their PIN code in order to cash a check for them.
You can then simply write the payee’s name and “For Deposit Only” on the back of the check and deposit it into the individual’s bank account at an ATM.
You can also cash the check and retrieve up to $3000 of the check’s value immediately (depending on the bank, current balance, and other factors).
For large checks or those larger than the account’s current balance, it may take several days for the check to clear before cash may be withdrawn against it.
In this case, a second visit to the ATM days later will be required to withdraw the cash from the deposited check.
How to cash a check for an incarcerated person who doesn’t have a bank account
If someone in jail doesn’t have a bank account, it may still possible to cash a check made out to them by having them sign the check over to a friend or family member.
The check should be signed on the back with the written statement, “pay to the order of [the person’s name they are giving the check to]”, giving it a full endorsement.
When this is done, the check becomes known as a third-party check, where the funds go from the payer, through the payee, and onto a third party.
Where to cash a third-party check
Once you have the check signed over to you, you may then proceed to cash it.
Note though that not all check cashing businesses accept third-party checks. Grocery stores and convenience stores never do. And neither does Walmart.
Some large banks or certain check cashing chains do cash third-party checks. But it is not guaranteed in every instance.
Because third-party checks are at higher risk for fraud, no bank is required to accept them. And there are often extra requirements.
Some banks will only accept third-party checks with the check’s original payee present. This will make it particularly difficult if that person is in jail.
Whether or not the presence of the original payee is required, an ID is always required to be shown by the third party.
You have the best chance of cashing a third-party check at a bank where you are personally known. In any case, it may also be helpful to call or stop by the bank in advance to see what their requirements are.
How to cash a stimulus check for someone in jail
Government-issued stimulus checks are different from other types of checks.
They are not eligible for third-party endorsements and cannot be deposited into an account owned by anyone other than the payee.
Stimulus checks will need to be deposited in the payee’s bank account only, using a method described above, either at a bank branch in-person or by using the payee’s debit card at an ATM.
Why you might want to get Power of Attorney for someone in jail
For ongoing assistance regarding cashing checks or with other financial matters like real estate, it’s best to obtain a Power of Attorney (POA) from an incarcerated individual.
Having POA allows you to set up a trust account for someone who’s incarcerated, for example.
If both your name as well as the name of the person in jail is on the account, you won’t need any kind of endorsement to deposit checks into it.
The rules for setting up a Power of Attorney depend on the laws of the incarcerated individual’s legal residence.
A lawyer’s help may be required to draft the document and it will usually need to be signed by the incarcerated person in the presence of a witness and a notary.
The person granting the Power of Attorney will decide what power will be given, and it is not something that can be implemented without the grantor’s agreement and cooperation.
If you and your friend or family member in jail decide to go this route, it will be wise to contact the bank initially to find out their requirements in accepting a POA.
This will ensure that you can fulfil their requirements properly the first time before drafting and signing documents and checks.