It is clear that delivery of a check is necessary to make it a binding obligation. "Delivery," generally means "voluntary transfer of possession." The most significant delivery of a check is the issuance, or initial delivery. "Issue" means "the first delivery of an instrument by the maker or drawer for the purpose of giving rights on the instrument to any person.

If a Person Has Signed and is No Longer in Possession of a Check, is the Check Considered Delivered?

Delivery is presumed by most courts where a person’s signature appears on a check and they are no longer in the possession of the check. In court, this presumption of valid delivery may be rebutted (argued), but the burden is on the drawer to show by way of defense that there has been no valid delivery.

Is There Such a Thing as a Conditional Delivery of a Check?

One who does not have the rights of a "holder in due course" (i.e. one with rights to take the money right away) takes an instrument subject to conditional delivery. In other words, as between immediate parties, or as against anyone else who is not a holder in due course, the delivery of a check may be shown to have been conditional, or for a special purpose, and not for the purpose of immediately transferring the property in the instrument.

When Do the Rights to a Check Pass when a Check is Delivered by Mail?

When a check is sent to the payee by mail, the rule is that title to the check passes to the payee and there is a complete delivery of the check at the time of mailing.

Can a Person Deposit a Check Lacking a Signature or an Amount?

A check that is incomplete as to "amount" or "payee" confers no rights on anyone until completed. However, it has been indicated that recovery may be had where a check is issued incomplete as to the amount, on proof of the existence and amount of the debt.

Where there is unauthorized completion of an incomplete instrument, it is treated as an alteration, whether or not the instrument was delivered. This means that if the completion is unauthorized and fraudulent, the drawer is discharged.

Should I Contact a Lawyer Regarding my Check Problems?

Check issues largely fall under contract law. A good contract or business attorney should be able to help you with these contract problems whether you have written a "bad" check or received one. Also, if you believe you have been wrongly charged with liability for a check because your name appears on the check, a good contract lawyer may be able to help you get out from under the liability.