The date on a personal or business check can dictate the last opportunity the payee has to deposit or cash it. Banks are not obligated to cash checks more than six months after the check date, although they may choose to do so anyway. Banks also may honor postdated personal checks prior to the date indicated as long as they believe it to be a valid check.
A check's date is the date written or printed by the issuer on the face of the check. It appears to the right of the issuer contact information. Any void notices listed on the check and check expiration time period is based on the date written. This means that the check date starts the countdown for the payee to endorse the check, regardless of when the check was actually sent or when the recipient received the check. This also means that if the issuer wrote the wrong month or year on a check, you may be unable to cash it and will need to have the check reissued.
It's a popular practice to postdate checks. When paying for rent, utilities and other bills, individuals may send a check in early but postdate the check for the day the bill is due. There's a common misconception that banks will not or cannot cash checks until the date written on the check. However, this is not true. A bank can cash a check as long as it has no reason to believe it won't clear or unless it believes that the check is fraudulent.
Many checks have notices on them such as "void 90 days after check date." The "void by" date may or not be enforceable. If a company has specifically instructed a bank to abide by the "void by" date, the bank may refuse to endorse the check after the void date. Otherwise, it likely will cash the check up until six months from the date recorded. Under the Uniform Commercial Code, banks are not obligated to cash checks six months after the check date. However, if the bank thinks the check is legitimate and that the payer has funds to cover it, it may choose to endorse the check.
Implications of Stale Checks
If you have a check more than six months old and a bank won't cash it, you're not necessarily out of luck. Many states have unclaimed property laws that require individuals and business to hand over assets to the state if the payee hasn't claimed them. For example, the State of California requires companies to turn over uncashed paychecks after a year. If a bank will not cash your stale-dated check because the company has gone out of business or the account no longer exists, contact your State and inquire about unclaimed property.
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