Who Signs Checks?

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
mbs6
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Who Signs Checks?

Postby mbs6 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:54 am

I have served as a financial clerk in 4 different wards over a period of quite a few years. And yet, some confusion remains in my mind about who can/should sign checks and in what circumstances. I believe my confusion arises from having been told conflicting information by various clerks and auditors and perhaps by policy changes. I understand that the Bishop is required to approve all expenditures; my questions are specifically regarding the signing of the actual checks. I was recently called again as a finance clerk, so please answer the following questions according to current policy:

1) Is the Bishop required to sign all checks?
2) Is the Bishop required to sign all fast offering checks?
3) Is it against policy for the people listed on the signature card to sign checks made payable to themselves?
4) Is it against policy for the people listed on the signature card to sign checks made payable to family members?

Finally, what should I consider as the definitive source of policy? Between MLS instructions, information on LDS.org, instructions from auditors, church handbooks, and verbiage on audit forms, I'm not sure the policy is always clear and consistent.

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aebrown
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:08 am

mbs6 wrote:1) Is the Bishop required to sign all checks?

No. He's required to approve each expense, but nowhere will you find any official documentation that says that he must sign each check. The documentation simply says that two authorized signers must sign each check.

mbs6 wrote:2) Is the Bishop required to sign all fast offering checks?

No. Specifically, in the RKATS article Paying Expenses of Ward Members, it is affirmed that the bishop must approve all fast-offering expenses, but regarding the signing of the check, it only says that two authorized signers must sign.

mbs6 wrote:3) Is it against policy for the people listed on the signature card to sign checks made payable to themselves?

Yes. See Handbook 1, 14.6.7.

mbs6 wrote:4) Is it against policy for the people listed on the signature card to sign checks made payable to family members?

In the RKATS article I linked to above, you'll see that it is specifically against policy for someone to sign a fast offering check for someone they are related to. But I don't see any prohibition like this for other checks.

mbs6 wrote:Finally, what should I consider as the definitive source of policy? Between MLS instructions, information on LDS.org, instructions from auditors, church handbooks, and verbiage on audit forms, I'm not sure the policy is always clear and consistent.

The handbook is authoritative, but not always completely explicit on all these details. Instructions on the RKATS site are official. Audit instructions are also authoritative, but what a particular auditor may say (except for quotes from authoritative sources) is not necessarily official. I would say that MLS instructions aren't always kept up to date, but they are from an official source as well.

I find it rare for official sources to be inconsistent, but different sources will have varying levels of specificity. If you find inconsistencies, feel free to raise them here on the LDSTech Forum and then report them to the appropriate Church department.

mbs6
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby mbs6 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:55 am

Excellent. Thank you for the clarity. Of all the questions raised, the one which gives me the most trouble is whether the Bishop must sign all checks, most especially fast offering checks. I've encountered several auditors and clerks over the years who insist the Bishop must sign all checks. I prefer to have counselors sign the checks once I have the Bishop's approval. The Bishop has enough to do without me inventing requirements for him. Having him sign every check often requires me to interrupt and command his attention toward paperwork when he is busy with ecclesiastical matters.

bastahmer
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby bastahmer » Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:30 am

mbs6 wrote:I've encountered several auditors and clerks over the years who insist the Bishop must sign all checks.

I have been a financial clerk for many years and an auditor for many years (currently, I am both) and I can tell you that there is guidance and there is opinion. While performing an audit, one thing that I am careful to do is to NOT give my opinion about how another clerk should do something, unless I am asked and it is understood as opinion. What aebrown said above is absolute guidance, since it is linked to sources. One thing to keep in mind about your call is that (in my opinion) one of the primary purposes of clerks is to take as much of the administrative burden off of the bishop as possible (to allow him to minister to the members). Having him both approve payments and sign checks puts an unnecessary adminsitrative burden on him.

lajackson
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby lajackson » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:30 pm

mbs6 wrote:I've encountered several auditors and clerks over the years who insist the Bishop must sign all checks.

There was a time many, many years ago when the bishop normally signed all the checks, and this became evidence that he had approve the expenditure. That was a long, long time ago, and no longer required. We obtain his approval for the expenditure in other ways today.

russellhltn
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby russellhltn » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:39 pm

bastahmer wrote:One thing to keep in mind about your call is that (in my opinion) one of the primary purposes of clerks is to take as much of the administrative burden off of the bishop as possible (to allow him to minister to the members).


That's not just your opinion. The video Role of the Ward clerk says "How can I help lighten the administrative burden of the bishop?"
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

Gary_Miller
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby Gary_Miller » Sun Jul 07, 2013 5:54 pm

bastahmer wrote:I have been a financial clerk for many years and an auditor for many years (currently, I am both) and I can tell you that there is guidance and there is opinion.

I'm sure that the Handbook 1, states if a person is serving in the position of clerk they cannot be an auditor also.

Gary_Miller
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby Gary_Miller » Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:03 pm

Since the bishop has to sign the report that prints out (can't remember the name), after the checks are written I have him sign the checks as well. I usually write checks on Tuesday, I staple the approval forms with the checks to the report and place them in a folder which I place in his box to sign at his conveyance, usually on Wednesday when he is in the building for YM/YW. I very seldom track him down to just sign a check.

mbs6
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby mbs6 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:50 pm

I appreciate all the responses and suggestions. I like Gary's suggestion, but I worry about leaving printed checks in any location that's not fully in my control. Our clerk's office is shared with two other wards and gets lots of foot traffic. Isn't there a policy which addresses the leaving of checks unattended?

Gary_Miller
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Re: Who Signs Checks?

Postby Gary_Miller » Sun Jul 07, 2013 7:03 pm

mbs6 wrote:Isn't there a policy which addresses the leaving of checks unattended?

The only policy I know of is leaving Blank Checks unattended. Never the less if that's a worry you could leave the folder in the bishops office.


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