The Statute Of Limitations For Florida Debts
Conventional wisdom about personal finance holds that ignoring debts can only make them worse. Meanwhile, debts have a statute of limitations, which means that, if you have not made payments toward a debt after a certain amount of time has gone by, there is little that creditors and debt collectors can do to get you to pay. Debts do not automatically get forgiven if the statute of limitations expires, but in some sense, they do fade away. When you can claim the statute of limitations defense depends on the type of debt and on your interactions with the creditor since you incurred the debt. It is so complicated that, even if you have been planning to use the statute of limitations defense since day one, it is still very easy to make mistakes. A Boca Raton debt lawyer can answer your questions about the statute of limitations on your debts.
The Four Types of Debt in Florida
Almost every debt fits into one of four categories, as follows:
- Oral agreements – The parties agree during a spoken conversation, in person or by phone, that one will pay the other a certain amount of money. For example, it is an oral agreement if a friend lends you $300 and you promise to repay him when you are able. It is also an oral agreement if a neighbor sells you a used smartphone and you promise that you will pay her $200 for it later. In Florida, the statute of limitations for debts formalized by oral agreement is four years.
- Written agreement – When you purchased a product or received a service, you physically or electronically signed a written document outlining your payment obligations. Examples of this kind of debt include medical bills and cell phone service contracts, among others. The statute of limitations for this kind of debt in Florida is five years.
- Promissory note – This is a loan formalized by a written agreement, including specifics such as interest rate and a timetable for installment payments. Examples include mortgage loans and car loans. The statute of limitations for promissory notes in Florida is five years.
- Open-ended accounts – These are agreements, formalized in writing, where the lender keeps lending you money, up to a certain amount, after you repay the debt in full or in part. Examples include credit cards and revolving lines of credit. The statute of limitations for these debts in Florida is four years.
How to Avoid Resetting the Statute of Limitations
The clock starts counting down toward the statute of limitations based on your last activity on the debt. That means that if you make a partial payment toward a debt, renegotiate its terms, or even make a verbal promise to pay, the clock resets. This is why creditors sometimes sue people over debts they incurred a decade ago or even longer.
Contact a South Florida Debt Lawyer About Dealing With Debts That You May or May Not Still Owe
A South Florida debt lawyer can help you navigate the statute of limitations on your debts. Contact Nowack & Olson, PLLC in Boca Raton, Florida to discuss your case.