Is there a statute of limitations on an IOU?

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Is there a statute of limitations on an IOU?

It’s dated 7/27/96; signed and witnessed. Was cleaning out old files and came across the IOU. I did not/have not pursued legal action.

Asked on August 2, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

An IOU is a contract, with the more formal legal name of a "promissory note."  Under New York law, the statute of limitations is six years, so I think you can safely write this debt off as far too late to be sued upon.

Unless, of course, the last payment was due less than six years ago!  In that case, it's likely that your cause of action "accrued" when the last payment became past due, for the purpose of the statute of limitations.  The question of when the lawsuit "accrues" is sometimes fought out at some length, and can decide the case all by itself if it comes out that the statute of limitations bars the case.


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