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Supacase's avatar

How late is too late to cash a gift check?

Asked by Supacase (14488 points ) September 21st, 2009

I just found a check from my grandparents that was sent as a gift for my birthday in April. I didn’t meet them until I was 21 and have not kept in touch with them at all. I am somewhat in touch with my father, but not a lot. They almost always send a check to my husband, daughter and me for Christmas and our birthdays.

Now I wonder if I have upset them by not cashing it. I am even more concerned that cashing it now would mess up their banking. What would you do? BTW, I did write a thank you note immediately after I received it.

I keep thinking about the Seinfeld episode where Jerry didn’t cash his nana’s checks, but at least this is just one for $20.

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11 Answers

MrItty's avatar

Don’t cash it. If they ever ask, lie and say you framed it. :-)

I generally think after 2 or 3 weeks, it’s sketchy whether or not it’s “acceptable” to cash it. I mean, I’m anal retentive about my finances, so if I wrote you a check and you didn’t cash it, I’d probably be contacting you on a weekly basis asking you why you haven’t. But other people are less detail-oriented, and after writing it, it probably slips their mind, so cashing it a month or more later will be an unexpected deduction from their account.

<shrug> Just my 2ยข

deni's avatar

This happened to me too with a check from my grandpa last year. I just didn’t cash it. Rather than calling him, asking, going out of my way and his way for thirty bucks. Eh. But if you really want it, maybe write to them?

ubersiren's avatar

I think checks are only good for a certain amount of time after they’re written anyway. I think. It may depend on the bank, too. Maybe call their bank and ask what the policy is. Their policy may take your dilemma away.

casheroo's avatar

Oh, I’m so bad at this. We receive checks for my son, for his birthday or Christmas…but we still haven’t set an account up for him. So, we put off depositing them. We still have some from I believe July. If the person records that they no longer have the money, then I don’t see why it’d be an issue.

JLeslie's avatar

My husband’s nephew has not cashed two of our checks. We were trying to decide whether to call him, and ask if he lost them, and write another one for him, but a couple of years ago it took him a long time to cash one, we finally called, and he finally cashed it, so we have opted to say nothing this time. He is 17 and old enough to be responsible about these things, and his sister has cashed hers. I would be very happy if he had called and admitted to misplacing it, apologized and ask if it was ok to still cash it. We are very aware he has failed to cash it, we want him to have the money, that is why we wrote the checks to begin with, but question whether he is able to admit when he has made a mistake, able to apologyze when he has made a mistake, and correcting things like this in relationships. I worry about this because his family does not much believe in saying I’m sorry, or I screwed up, especially his mother, and I have a secret hope that the children will not inherit that trait. Now, my nephew has never written me a thank you card, and when he was younger failed to even call and say thank you at times, so I don’t think it is quite the same as the OP. Some of it might have to do with how different families and cultures function. My husband’s family leaves things unsaid all of the time and it drives me crazy. Always the elephant in the room. In my family I would call right up, or my grandma would have called me by now.

I think it might vary by state, you should be able to cash somewhere between 90 and 180 days after the check is dated. But, I think you should call, in case they have adjusted their accounting of their checking account already assuming you are not going to cash it.

We all have misplaced things, I think they will understand, and be happy to hear from you. I love getting texts and calls from my niece and nephew, which is very rare. I think if you were my granddaughter I would be thrilled you called.

Supacase's avatar

Having never called them in my life, I would feel very awkward calling them to ask about this. I think I will probably not cash it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Supacase Oh, I had not realized you never have called. I guess it would be odd for the first time be about money. Maybe you should call just to say hello, since they want to acknowledge you and your family through gifts.

YARNLADY's avatar

Banks usually consider a check ‘dead’ after three months, but if the account is still open and active, there probably won’t be a problem. Cash it and write them another thank you note, explaining what happened.

XOIIO's avatar

LOL! The second I started reading this I though of that sienfeld episode!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Checks are good for 6 months, after which they become stale dated. You have probably messed up their checkbook, and they would welcome seeing the check come through. Since you wrote the thank you note, they know you received it, so probably have not put a stop payment on it.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with Pandora after reading that answer. Cash it.

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