Stimulus check: Pay to the order of deceased Memphian

By , Special to the Daily Memphian Updated: May 06, 2020 9:46 AM CT | Published: May 06, 2020 4:00 AM CT

The federal government sent a $1,200 stimulus check this week to Memphian James D. “Jimmy” Edwards, who died 18 months ago.

“I just could not believe it,” said Dr. Scott Edwards, the son who received the check Monday in his mailbox as executor of the estate.

The check was one of about 90 million the Treasury Department so far has rushed to eligible citizens to combat the toll that COVID-19 has taken on the economy.

Waiting for the stimulus, jobless look to expanded unemployment relief

The dentist’s father died of natural causes on Oct. 23, 2018, at age 91.

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Jimmy Edwards’ full life included a 36-year career in retail advertising at The Commercial Appeal, 61 years of marriage to his wife, Margaret Jane, golf, attending University of Memphis football and basketball games, dancing twice weekly and being one of the oldest living members of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

The Treasury Department’s mistake is not that rare. A number of national news stories have been published in recent weeks about the CARES Act stimulus checks being mailed to dead people.

Many of the stories have put the errors into context, noting the sense of urgency created by the deadly pandemic. The nation had a collective will to get money into the hands of Americans as quickly as possible as the economy deteriorated.

Politico reported that among the $250 checks sent to seniors and veterans during the Great Recession a decade ago, 71,000 of the 51 million payments were addressed to dead people.

And some reports have explained that the federal government depends on state governments for death information, and that mistakes occur when there’s a lag in passing on the data.

An IRS spokesperson told The Daily Memphian on Tuesday the agency does not yet have guidance on what relatives and estate executors should do when they receive such checks. However, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal April 28 that recipients should return that money.

<strong>James D. Edwards</strong>

James D. Edwards

Evidence exists that Treasury already knew that James D. Edwards was deceased when it sent his $1,200 check. Printed on the front of the check is: “Pay to the order of James D. Edwards DECD.”

The abbreviation presumably means deceased.

And another federal agency, the Social Security Administration, knew to stop depositing the monthly Social Security payments the month after his father’s death, Scott Edwards said.

He has no intentions of cashing the check.

“I might just frame it … Might be something to pass on to one of my kids,” Edwards said.


COVID-19 CAREs Act coronavirus stimulus package U.S. Department of Treasury
Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey retired in January as a business reporter at The Daily Memphian, and after 40 years in journalism. A Tupelo, Mississippi, native, he graduated from Mississippi State University. He has lived in Midtown for 36 years.


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