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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.


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