If my mother was recently sent a 9 year old invoice for a bill, does she have to pay?

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If my mother was recently sent a 9 year old invoice for a bill, does she have to pay?

My mother was required by the county to repair a faulty septic system 11 years ago. We were directed to a company that did the work. The work was done about 10 years ago. As a single mother, she was unable at the time to pay the full invoice and negotiated to try to lower the bill. It is unclear if the owner told her she did not have to pay, however he intimated something of that nature and no bill or invoice was ever sent. No follow up or attempts to collect on the bill were done until about 6 months ago, after the owner and his wife suddenly passed away. Someone at his company apparently found an invoice for the work and sent it to her expecting payment. She sought legal advice from a local lawyer, who said to not contact them as they had no legal recourse to collect on the debt, so she made no reply. Last week, the company started calling her work and her work cellphone, and today she received an invoice, different from the original, dated 6 months ago, setting the original date for the amount owed as originating then, instead of 10 years ago. Is there anything that she can do about this?

Asked on March 13, 2017 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that the bill is for work completed 11 years ago. Therefore, while she may technically owe this company money, they can do nothing legally to collect it as the statute of limitations (i.e. the time in which they could file suit to collect) for such a matter would have long since expired. Further, trying to "re-age" the debt to make it look as though it was incurred within the last 6 months is illegal.

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that the bill is for work completed 11 years ago. Therefore, while she may technically owe this company money, they can do nothing legally to collect it as the statute of limitations (i.e. the time in which they could file suit to collect) for such a matter would have long since expired. Further, trying to "re-age" the debt to make it look as though it was incurred within the last 6 months is illegal.


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