In mammals, tail-anchored (TA) proteins that are posttranslationally captured by the chaperone SGTA are triaged by the BAG6 complex into one of two fates: handoff to an ER targeting factor for membrane insertion or polyubiquitination for destruction by the proteasome. In this issue, Culver and Mariappan (2021. J. Cell Biol. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.202004086 ) show that a fraction of newly synthesized TA proteins is polyubiquitinated in HEK293 cells independently of the BAG6 complex yet evades proteasomal degradation by undergoing deubiquitination en route to becoming stably inserted into the ER membrane.