In the hustle and bustle of daily life, cutting a few corners to get things done is often a necessity. Anyone can endorse your signature on a check if you ask them to, and in most states, this is perfectly legal. The same might apply if your elderly father is no longer able to sign his own name. With his permission, you can endorse checks for him.
Permission Is Critical
If you’re going to endorse a check for the rightful payee, you must have his permission to do so. Otherwise, the act could be construed as forgery. A charge of forgery usually requires that you signed someone else’s name with the intention of defrauding him, such as if you kept the cash or deposited the check into your own account. In most jurisdictions, the person who issued the check wouldn’t be held responsible for covering it if he can prove that you weren’t authorized to sign it.
You can protect yourself from accusations of forgery when signing someone else's check by obtaining written authorization from that person. A power of attorney document allows you to sign for another person in other legal matters, not just their checks. However, if you are only being asked to sign checks for an individual, then you can make this fact known by writing the initials "p.p." on the check next to the signature. This indicates to whoever sees the signature that you were procured to sign on behalf of another person.
Possible Criminal Charges
In some states, such as California, a forgery offense is a “wobbler.” This means it can be charged as a misdemeanor, but if certain aggravating factors are present, such as prior forgery convictions, they could tip the scales into a felony.
In most states, you can sign someone else's check, with their permission. Permission is necessary, otherwise, signing a check that isn't yours may constitute forgery.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.