Is writing that “accepting this check constitutes payment in full” legally binding?

UPDATED: Aug 29, 2014

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Is writing that “accepting this check constitutes payment in full” legally binding?

I am settling an estate with no money in it. There has been a judgement against the estate by a collection agency and I am trying to settle the judgement for less money.

Asked on August 29, 2014 under Bankruptcy Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not, UNLESS there is something in writing (e.g. a settlement agreement) from the creditor that they agree to settle the claim for less. However, the debtor may not unilaterally write that "accepting this check constitutes payment in full" and have that have any legal effect whatsoever, since the creditor has an absolute right to receive, cash/deposit, and apply partial payments without giving up their claim for the rest of the money; so again, you need the creditor, not you, to put something in writing indicating that the debt is being settled for less.

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