If I have a judgement againest me for $20K that is in collections, can I send a check for 5K with some verbiage that this if final payment?

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If I have a judgement againest me for $20K that is in collections, can I send a check for 5K with some verbiage that this if final payment?

The collections agent Ad I agreed to pay 5K, pending my talking to my husband. In the months that followed however, I had 2 concussions and was in bed, very dizzy, my father was ill and eventually passed and our home office had a mold issue and we couldn’t go in it. Meanwhile, the collections man left dozens of messages that I never returned. I have the 5k and would like to pay. I called and the collections man who is now really mad saying that I had ignored his calls and he lost all credibility with the person I owe the money to. Can I send check with verbiage” cash only if agreed as final payment?

Asked on August 3, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't do this--you cannot bind them to accept $5k as payment in full without their agreement. Unfortunately for you, they may cash or deposit the check without agreeing to your terms, since if someone is owed money, the law allows them to cash/deposit any payments they receive and apply it to that amount. Since they have the legal right to cash/deposit the check, they do not give up any rights by doing so--and will not be deemed to have agreed to accept it as final payment or payment in full.

Everyone would do what you suggest if the law allowed it--send in a partial payment marked "final payment" or "payment in full"--and debts would be worthless; that's why the law does not allow this.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't do this--you cannot bind them to accept $5k as payment in full without their agreement. Unfortunately for you, they may cash or deposit the check without agreeing to your terms, since if someone is owed money, the law allows them to cash/deposit any payments they receive and apply it to that amount. Since they have the legal right to cash/deposit the check, they do not give up any rights by doing so--and will not be deemed to have agreed to accept it as final payment or payment in full.

Everyone would do what you suggest if the law allowed it--send in a partial payment marked "final payment" or "payment in full"--and debts would be worthless; that's why the law does not allow this.


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