Sharing can be hard, especially when that something is worth money. A multi-party or two-payee check means that the proceeds are not necessarily yours alone. Insurance, escrow account and deposit refunds checks are commonly made out to two payees— if two people are on the account or policy. All parties may be expected to endorse the check before it can be cashed.
Pay close attention to how the payees are addressed. Check whether it is paid to the order of "John Doe and Jane Doe," "John Doe or Jane Doe" or "John Doe and/or Jane Doe." Checks made out to one or the other party can be cashed or deposited by either individual, so one person can cash it or deposit it without hassle. Just sign the back and take it to the bank.
Get the other party's signature, in addition to your own, if the check is made out to you and someone else. This is the minimum requirement— don't bother trying to cash it without the other person's consent or signature. If all parties cannot sign, ask the check-writer if separate checks can be issued to each party.
Call your bank to find out whether it has any specific requirements for cashing the check. You may be able to use the ATM to deposit it into your account but ask first. Some banks may require all parties to go to the bank in person and show identification when cashing the check. Others are happy with all the signatures.
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.