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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3139
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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My exwifes sister is contacting me to collect money she gave

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My exwife's sister is contacting me to collect money she gave me almost 10 years ago. The money, in the amount of $7,000, was owed by us both, but she is now saying I must give her the total amount. I called her and told her I would give her $500 now, followed by $100 a month, but only for $3,500. She texted my phone yesterday stating that since it has been so long, she does not feel comfortable doing a payment agreement because it has been so long and wants $7,000 by the end of the month or she will take me to court. In my state, the statute of limitations to collect a debt is four years. She has acknowledged it has been almost 10. I did not respond to her text or give her a payment yet towards the debt. What should I do?

Since the statute of limitations is only 4 years, you can just wait until she sues you and then you can raise the statute of limitations as a defense and her case will be dismissed. Keep in mind however that the statute of limitations begins to run not from the time when the money was lent to you, but from when payment was due. So if payment on the debt was due within the past 4 years, then she would be able to successfully sue you. But if this was just an oral agreement she would have a difficult time proving her case.

In any further communications with her, I would not admit to owing the money. I would just respond that the statute of limitations has expired and that if you were sued you would raise this as a defense.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The agreement was verbal, but there was never a set timeframe to pay the money back. I had originally told her I would pay her when I could, but again this was verbal and almost 10 years ago.

Since the agreement was verbal she would have a difficult time proving when the debt was to be paid, and if no set time agreed upon then the court could likely just treat the money as a gift. And gifts do not have to paid back. Someone who brings a lawsuit has to prove the terms of the agreement (if there was one) and it sounds to me that she will simply not be able to prove that there was a loan. So, I would just rely on the statute of limitations and/or that the money was in essence a gift as there was no agreed upon date to pay the money back.


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