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I wrote a check three months ago, and the recipient has not deposited it yet. Stopping payment and giving them cash would cost me more than the amount of the check. Is there anything else I can do? I do have a carbon copy of the check.

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    contact the recipient and ask them what's happened perhaps? Sep 15 at 21:57
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    What country are you in? In some countries checks expire, in others bank may reject stale checks even if they're not officially expired.
    – littleadv
    Sep 15 at 23:53
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    Unless they claim that you haven't paid them, I don't think there's anything you actually need to do except remember that the check is still out there and -- unless the bank can confirm it won't be honored -- could be cashed at some point. I've had friends get distracted and not realize a check didn't get deposited for years; when they tried and it was rejected, I issued a new one. If you want to be picky about it, you can ask them to mail you the old check or void it and send you a picture of that, to have a bit more confidence that only the replacement will be cashed.
    – keshlam
    Sep 16 at 10:33
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    Is it causing you harm (like preventing you from closing an account), or just mild irritation that the check is still uncashed and that you might forget about it? (I've been there: daughter gave a check to her teacher for something, and I carried it in my checkbook register for four months; called the school, and it was deposited a couple of weeks later.)
    – RonJohn
    Sep 16 at 16:08
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    @RonJohn just mild irritation. I have overdraft protection from my savings account, so it won't bounce even if it does overdraw my account; it would just be nice to not have to remember it.
    – Someone
    Sep 16 at 17:56

2 Answers 2

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Contact your bank to determine that bank's policy regarding aging of personal checks. You'll note that many commercial operations issuing checks will have an expiration period printed on the check. For personal checks, it's going to be up to the bank.

You can then notify the recipient of the expected period of expiration. At this point, you'll not have had to place a hold on the check, costing you nothing, and placing the onus on the recipient.

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  • This is assuming an actual person actually checks the date when processing the check. I've seen checks clear with no signature, no date, and for different amounts than they are written for.
    – spuck
    Sep 16 at 18:06
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In the US checks become stale after 6 months and banks are no longer required to honor them. Bank may still honor them, you should check your bank's specific policies. Many banks process checks electronically and may not notice that the check is stale when deposited/cashed.

In the US, unclaimed property is managed by States and different States have different rules. Depending on the situation you may or may not be legally required to follow the unclaimed property reporting requirements. Here's example from my State of California:

California law requires corporations, businesses, associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies (referred to as “holders”) to annually report and deliver property to the State Controller’s Office if there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner for a specified period of time (generally three years).

California law requires all holders (corporations, businesses, associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies) of unclaimed property to attempt to contact owners before reporting their property to the State Controller's Office.

Holders are required to send a notice to the owner’s last known address informing them that the property will be transferred to the State Controller's Office for safekeeping if the owner does not contact them to retrieve it

Check the requirements in your State on how to handle unclaimed property, you may need to deliver the funds to the State on behalf of your recipient.

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  • So if I write a check and the recipient doesn't deposit it, it's my responsibility to report that to the government?
    – Someone
    Sep 16 at 4:03
  • @Someone if you're a business, yes. If you're a private party, at least in California you're not required to do this, but I think you still can.
    – littleadv
    Sep 16 at 4:13
  • Oh, okay. I'm in Oregon.
    – Someone
    Sep 16 at 4:14
  • @Someone Oregon seems to have rules similar to CA: unclaimed.oregon.gov/app/faq-report#whats-a-holder
    – littleadv
    Sep 16 at 4:31
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    "if there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner" OP said the recipient is making excuses, not unreachable
    – Ben Voigt
    Sep 16 at 15:24

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