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The Decedent’s Final Paycheck

The Decedent’s Final Paycheck

If the decedent was employed at the time of his death, his final paycheck can also be used to pay for the funeral and last expenses or his ongoing bills.  Texas law sets out how one can access the decedent’s final paycheck.

The Surviving Spouse Affidavit

Texas law provides for a relatively quick and inexpensive procedure for a surviving spouse to collect their deceased spouse’s final paycheck.  This remedy is particularly useful where the only asset of the estate is a final paycheck. This remedy can also be used when there is a probate, but before probate process is initiated.

To collect the final paycheck, the surviving spouse just has to provide an affidavit to the decedent’s employer stating that (1) the affiant is the surviving spouse and (2) no one has qualified as executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate.  

The affidavit applies to the deceased’s final paycheck, including any wages earned and unpaid sick pay or vacation pay.  It does not apply to the disposition of the decedent’s property the employer may have in its possession.

The employer is not required to inquire into the truth of the affidavit.  The employer who relies on this type of affidavit is released from liability to the same extent as if the payment or delivery is made to the decedent’s personal representative.  Instead, of holding the employer liable, Texas law holds the decedent’s spouse liable. The decedent’s spouse is liable to the estate for the amounts received if it turns out that the affidavit was false.  

When there is No Surviving Spouse

The surviving spouse affidavit is not available when there is no surviving spouse.  

In this case the paycheck will likely be direct deposited by the employer into the decedent’s bank account or, alternatively, issued by check in the decedent’s name.  This can be problematic if the loved ones do not have access to the decedent’s bank account.

To access the funds, one may have to start the probate process or file an emergency application to access the bank account.  We’ll address these topics soon.  But before we do that, let’s pause to consider how to access the decedent’s safety deposit box.  Click here to continue reading.  >>>>

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