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How do I collect on a notarized promissory note in California? What kind of attorney do I need?

Escondido, CA |

My friend of 9 years signed a notarized promissory note stating she would pay me back for my financial support (I helped her through school paid her part of the rent, paid for her food, everything). I can prove at least 60-70 thousand dollars worth in damages. In the 9 years I repeatedly bailed her out of debt so she has maintained a excellent credit score. The language on the promissory note is vague so I would like to make sure I still have a case. She hasn't made a single payment to me and left the state. Does anyone know of a good lawyer I can hire to help me collect on the promissory note? I am seeking a judgement against her and would like to collect what ever I can. I am not intrested in letting this go. Even if I end up spending more than I recollect.

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Attorney answers 3


You may have some real problem with what you think is a "promissory note". It is a unconditional promise to pay a "sum certain" on a date (or on demand.) I think you may have a contract. Winning the lawsuit, however, is not the same as collecting, but first things first. The reason I mention it at all is that if the defendant has "fled" the state, I know of no lawyer who will then handle it on a contingency unless other facts demonstrate that a judgment would be collectable. Any competent business litigator should be able to help you.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


You probably need to bring the lawsuit in the state in which she now lives. Not sure what you mean by vague. Amount owed not specified? Date for repayment not stated?

Regardless, you'll need to show the vague promissory note to an attorney.

You might have a serious statute of limitations problem if the promissory note is vague.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


You are looking for a debt collections attorney (aka creditors' attorney). San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service might help.