If I pay an individual for handy man jobs by check and on the final check post “Paid In Full”, is this final payment when cashed?

UPDATED: Aug 19, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Aug 19, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If I pay an individual for handy man jobs by check and on the final check post “Paid In Full”, is this final payment when cashed?

I paid an individual for construction work and he did not finish the job. Even though he verbally agreed to do the job for free if he did not finish, I still paid him for what he completed and now he is asking for more money. He cashed my “Paid in Full” final check and is not asking for more money. I thought PIF meant that was the final payment and you could not come back and ask for more money. Am I wrong?

Asked on August 19, 2011 Alabama


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, such a marking on the memo line of a check is no legally binding effect. By cashing it, your payee (the contractor) gave up none of his legal rights to collect the full sum owed (or allegedly owed).  The reason is that if someone owes money, they may not arbitrarlily change the amount owed or terms of payment by merely making a check notation of this kind.  There is a common misconception that the memo line on a check has legal dorce - it does not.  This line is strictly for informational purposes only; it helps to identify the reason that a check was written. It does not bind the recipient.  Think about it, if it was that easy to alter the terms of a payment, everyone would do it. 

Bottom line, if you can't come to terms with your contractor, a court may have to decide what (if anything) is still owed.  

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption