Banking and commercial practices consider a check stale when it was written long ago and the person to whom it was written never cashed it.
- Will a Bank Honor a Stale Check I Wrote?
- What Can I Do if My Bank Honored a Stale Check without My Permission?
- How Do I Know if My Bank Acted in "Good Faith?"
- Is There Anything I Can Do to Prevent a Stale Check from Being Honored?
- What Can I Do if a Bank Will Not Cash a Stale Check?
- Do I Need a Lawyer?
Unless you write on the check that it will not be valid after a certain number of days, banks may honor the check. Generally, banks are not required to honor checks that were written more than six months prior. In some states, a bank will consult with the person who wrote the check if it is presented with a check older than six months. Certified checks, which are guaranteed by a financial institution, cannot go stale and will be honored at any time.
Your bank is not responsible for any damage to you if they honor a stale check in good faith. If your bank did not act in good faith, an attorney may determine what remedies are available to you.
While there is no definitive definition of "good faith," there is some consensus as to what it means. Essentially, a bank acted in good faith if they did not notice the date of the check. However, if a bank employee notices the date of the check before cashing it, and does not consult you, courts will often determine the bank acted in bad faith.
Most likely a bank employee will not notice the date the check was written. Besides writing a "valid until" notice on the check, you can contact your bank and request a stop payment if the check has not been cashed yet.
While a bank may no longer accept a check dated more than six months ago, the person who wrote the check is still liable to you for the debt or obligation that they wrote the check for.
An attorney specializing in banking laws or regulations may advise you of your remedies if you believe a bank honored a stale check in bad faith. If you are unable to cash a stale check, a business lawyer can help you recover the debt or obligation from the person who owes you the money.