Check deposits are generally governed by state commercial law, as well as the requirements and practices of your bank. Whether you can deposit an escrow check without your spouse depends on several factors, such as how the check is made payable and the ownership of the account where you intend to deposit it. Another important factor is whether you intend to deposit the escrow check only or intend to make a partial deposit and withdraw the remainder as cash.
If the escrow check is made payable to your spouse and you, and the account for deposit is in both names, you should not encounter any problem with your bank accepting the check even if your spouse cannot endorse it. Your bank will accept the escrow check for deposit if it includes the restrictive endorsement "for deposit only" written on the back of the check along with the account number. This type of endorsement does not require the signature of either your spouse or you.
Bank Deposit Requirements
All banks have their own deposit requirements, some of which may prohibit you from depositing an escrow check made payable to both your spouse and you without your spouse's endorsement. This typically arises if you attempt to deposit a jointly payable escrow check into an account for which you are the sole owner. As far as the bank is concerned, your spouse is a third party to the transaction because your spouse's name is on the check as payee but not on the account. Bank deposit rules usually state that the bank reserves the right to require checks to be endorsed by all payees. Depending on your relationship with the bank, the amount of the check or where it was drawn, the bank may refuse the deposit until your spouse has endorsed the check.
Property Tax Escrow Checks
Escrow accounts are commonly used to pay property taxes on homes with a mortgage by having your mortgage company send the tax payments directly to the local taxing authority. Sometimes circumstances result in an escrow check being sent directly to you and made payable to your spouse and you. Although your local taxing authority will accept the check from you for the property tax payment, it will most likely insist that the check be endorsed by all payees.
Check Cashing Requirements
If you intend to receive as cash any portion or all of the escrow check and your spouse's name is included as a payee on the check, you cannot do this without your spouse's endorsement. If the check is for a significant amount, your bank may even require your spouse to be present to verify the endorsement. Your bank typically reserves the right to take this action in its rules for deposits and withdrawals.