Statute of Limitations for Written Contracts

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Debts have a time period that they're legally enforceable - that creditors can use the courts to force you to pay a debt. This time period is known as the statute of limitations on debt. The specific statute of limitations can be different depending on the type of debt you have: an open-ended account, oral agreement, promissory note, or written contract. It's important to know which type of debt you're dealing with, so you're using the right timeframe to consider whether that debt is past the statute of limitations.

What Is a Written Contract?

A written contract is an agreement made on a printed document that has been signed by both the lender and the borrower. Written contracts are legally binding and easier to enforce than oral contracts. In a written contract, one party agrees to perform a service or provide a product, and the other party agrees to certain payment terms.

The terms of written contracts can vary from one contract to another.

How They Become Bad Debts

Once you've signed the written contract, you're bound by the terms of the contract. If you default on the terms of the contract by failing to make the payments as agreed, the other party may take certain actions to pursue you for what you owe. One of those actions could include filing a lawsuit against you to get you to pay up.

If the court finds that you owe the debt, a judgment could be entered against you requiring you to pay the debt. With a judgment against you, the other party can sue to have your wages garnished if you still don't pay the debt.

The court can only force you to pay what you owe under a written contract as long as the statute of limitations has not expired for the debt. The clock starts ticking on the late day of activity on your account. The date of last activity could be the last date you made a payment, payment arrangement, or even acknowledged the debt.

It's important that you keep records regarding your debts so you can properly track the statute of limitations.

The Statute of Limitations

The specific statute of limitations for written contracts varied by state. The number of years often exceeds the statute of limitations for open-ended accounts which includes credit cards and line of accounts. Use the table below to find out the statute of limitations for written contracts in your state. If you're faced with a lawsuit from someone you created a contract with, consult with an attorney to verify the timing for the statute of limitations and discuss how you can use it as a defense against your lawsuit.

Alabama6Montana8
Alaska6Nebraska5
Arizona6Nevada6
Arkansas6New Hampshire3
California4New Jersey6
Colorado6New Mexico6
Connecticut6New York6
Delaware3North Carolina3
Florida5North Dakota6
Georgia6Ohio15
Hawaii6Oklahoma5
Idaho5Oregon6
Illinois10Pennsylvania4
Indiana10Rhode Island15
Iowa10South Carolina3
Kansas6South Dakota6
Kentucky15Tennessee6
Louisiana10Texas4
Maine6Utah6
Maryland3Vermont6
Massachusetts6Virginia5
Michigan6Washington6
Minnesota6West Virginia10
Mississippi3Wisconsin6
Missouri10Wyoming10

The statute of limitations will continue to run as long as you don't take any action with the debt.

Be careful that you don't take an action that could restart the statute of limitations. It would give the creditor more time to sue you and win a judgment against you.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a worldwide audience, and ​​laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.­­