38 CFR 3.1003 - Returned and canceled checks.
Where the payee of a check for benefits has died prior to negotiating the check, the check shall be returned to the issuing office and canceled.
(a) The amount represented by the returned check, or any amount recovered following improper negotiation of the check, shall be payable to the living person or persons in the order of precedence listed in § 3.1000(a)(1) through (5), except that the total amount payable shall not include any payment for the month in which the payee died (see § 3.500(g)), and payments to persons described in § 3.1000(a)(5) shall be limited to the amount necessary to reimburse such persons for the expenses of last sickness and/or burial.
(1) There is no limit on the retroactive period for which payment of the amount represented by the check may be made, and no time limit for filing a claim to obtain the proceeds of the check or for furnishing evidence to perfect a claim.
(2) Nothing in this section will preclude payment to an otherwise entitled claimant having a lower order of precedence under § 3.1000(a)(1) through (5), if it is shown that the person or persons having a higher order of precedence are deceased at the time the claim is adjudicated.
(b) Subject to the limitations in § 3.500(g) of this part, any amount not paid in the manner provided in paragraph (a) of this section shall be paid to the estate of the deceased payee, provided that the estate, including the amount paid under this paragraph, will not will not revert to the state because there is no one eligible to inherit it.
(c) The provisions of this section do not apply to checks for lump sums representing amounts withheld under § 3.551(b) or § 3.557. These amounts are subject to the provisions of §§ 3.1001 and 3.1007, as applicable.