Is a check with “loan” in the ledger enough to claim a debt?

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011

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Is a check with “loan” in the ledger enough to claim a debt?

My parents passed away recently and my sister went through my mom’s checkbooks and found a check that my mother wrote 16 years ago to me for $25,000 (it does say loan in the ledger). Now she wants me to repay that amount. Money was given over the years to all siblings for X-mas, etc. I agreed that my gifts would be put towards my loan. NowI’im not sure how (if at all ) I can prove that to my greedy sister.

Asked on August 30, 2011 Nevada


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It is most likely too late to make you repay the money. In Nevada, the statute of limitations (SOL), or time to sue someone to collect on a debt they do not pay, is 6 years (that's the SOL for both written contracts and promissory notes). That's not 6 years from when the loan was given or made, but 6 years from when it would have been repaid. Assuming that, even if it was a loan, it was to have been repaid more than 6 years ago (likely, since it was made 16 years ago), then you can't be sued on it.

Second, if your mother passed away, it is your mother's estate which may have the claim against you, even assuming there was a claim (e.g. that the SOL does not bar the suit). Unless your sister is acting as the administrator or executor of your mother's estate, bringing an action on its behalf, it's not up to her to try to get you to repay; whomever is the representative of your mother's estate must make this decisions and decide what to do.

Third, there is no hard and fast rule for what it takes to prove that something was not a loan. In the absence of an actual promissory note or loan agreement/contract, a piece of writing in the ledger is some evidence, but does not prove matters--what is important is what was said when the money was given to you. If at the time it was a gift, writing "loan" later would not change that. Other than the ledgar, testimony (e.g. yours), what was written on the check itself, any correspondence, etc. can be sued to try to prove the existence and terms of the loan--or coversely, that it was a gift.

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 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.

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