Only the personal representative of the probate estate can negotiate a check payable to an estate. It would be inappropriate for the personal representative to "cash" such a check, but should deposit the check into the estate's bank account.
If the check is less than $75,000 and there are no other probatable assets, you can use an alternative form of probate called "summary administration." In a summary administration, there must be no known or reasonably ascertainable creditors of the estate and the total non-exempt assets must not exceed $75,000. If you are the sole heir of the estate, you do not need the assistance of a probate attorney to file the petition for summary administration. If you are not the sole heir of the estate, then it will be necessary for you to retain a probate attorney to assist you with the filing of the petition for summary administration.
The petition for summary administration asks the probate judge to enter a court order directing the maker of the check payable to the estate to cancel the existing check and provide a new check payable directly to the benefactrices of the estate. Upon the entry by the probate court of the Order of Summary administration, the check should be replaced by a check payable to the beneficiaries.
You can find more information about probate in Florida at our website: http://www.thecolemanlawfirm.net/Florida_Probate_Law.html
C. Randolph Coleman