DEAR ABBY: Much as it pains me to publicly disagree with another attorney, the letter you published from Max D. Rynearson about the value of an IOU was more wrong than right -- and your original advice to parents to get an IOU when lending money to their children was more right than wrong.
Yes, a detailed promissory note, with due dates, interest, default provisions and attorneys fees is nice. (A mortgage on the homestead or a security interest in the family Mercedes is even nicer.)
However, to say that a written IOU has no legal value is incorrect. I would hope that none of your readers, after seeing that in your column, would tear up an IOU or abandon their hope of repayment.
An IOU is written evidence of a debt. If signed by the borrower, it is even better evidence. As documentary evidence of a debt, a signed IOU is as good as any promissory note. Only the bells and whistles of a promissory note are missing. Any defense that could be used against a signed IOU can be used against a promissory note.
Not lending and not borrowing is best. Getting a note and secured collateral is next best. But if someone you cannot or do not want to refuse needs a loan at a time or place when you can get no lawyer, note or collateral, a signed IOU is enforceable written evidence of a debt. Surely, someone holding one should not think it has no legal value. -- JOHN D. RICE, ATTORNEY AT LAW, CHANHASSEN, MINN.
DEAR MR. RICE: Thank you very much for straightening this out. I'm sure that many readers will be relieved to know that the IOUs they are holding are valid legal documents after all. But the words of William Shakespeare seem even truer today than when he wrote, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be ..."