DEAR HARRIETTE: I was given a check by a family friend for Christmas last year, and I just found it. It’s more than a year old. I feel horrible about that, because he is close to our family. I don’t want him to think that I ignored him, and I also want to cash the check. Do you think it’s too late to deposit it? If so, do you think it would be all right for me to ask him to write me a new check? I feel a little uncomfortable because he did not write me a check this year. -- Outdated Check
DEAR OUTDATED CHECK: Sadly, many people misplace gift checks -- and other checks -- only to discover them many months or even years later. Typically, a check is no longer valid after 180 days of being issued. Hence, your year-old check is worthless. This regulation protects the issuer of the check so that money is not being held hostage for too long.
You should shred that check and chalk it up to your mistake. Since this friend did not give a check this year, you should not ask for him to rewrite it. This is your loss, but so be it. Next time you get a check, deposit it immediately. It’s a lot easier to do now that you can deposit a check electronically by using your smartphone, if you have one. If you don’t, just make a trip to the bank right away.