Creating a notice of default on an installment promissory note

When a borrower fails to pay an installment promissory note, the lender can use a notice of default to begin the collection process. Find out how to use a notice of default.

by Brette Sember, J.D.
updated May 11, 2023 ·  2min read

When a borrower fails to make payments on an installment promissory note, a notice of default is usually the first response a lender uses to begin collection proceedings.

Man holding a piece of paper and reading from it

This notice provides legal notice of the default, offers a chance for the borrower to make the missed payments, and states the lender's clear intent to take action to collect if the borrower does not catch up on the loan.

Installment loans

A promissory note is a legal document between a lender and borrower setting out the terms of a loan. It includes the amount being borrowed, the length of the loan, and the amount of the payments, as well as other terms.

When a loan has regularly scheduled payments, it is called an installment loan, since the borrower pays it back in installments. The installment payments are of a set amount and are due on regularly scheduled dates, usually once a month, throughout the life of the loan. Each installment payment is usually made up of both interest and principal.

Defaulting on a loan

A default on a loan happens when the borrower fails to make the scheduled payments in full. Default could happen with one missed payment or might not occur until after several payments have been missed, depending on the terms of the note. The promissory note itself should set out what constitutes default, so that both the lender and the borrower are clear on the terms.

Notice of default

When a borrower defaults on a loan or promissory note and the lender wants to collect on the missed payments, the first things the lender should do is to read the promissory note and determine what procedures and steps are required when a default occurs.

Often, the first step is for the lender to send the borrower a notice of default. This is a legal document that states the following:

  • The date of the notice
  • The names of the lender and borrower
  • The date of the promissory note itself
  • The full amount of the promissory note (that is, the total amount that was borrowed)
  • The number of installment payments that have been missed
  • The dollar amount of the installment payments that have been missed
  • The dates the installment payments were due
  • A demand by the lender that the borrower pay the amount due and owing
  • The number of days the borrower has to make the missed payments (normally, a week or two is sufficient)
  • A statement that, if the missed payments are not made, the lender will pursue collection of the entire balance of the promissory note

You can write a notice of default on an installment promissory yourself, or you can work with an attorney or online service provider to help ensure that you comply with state and federal laws about debt collection. It's important to have proof that the notice of default was sent, so use certified mail with a signature required.

Collecting on an installment promissory note can be a complicated process. A notice of default is the first step a lender normally takes to collect on an installment promissory note that the borrower has defaulted on.

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Brette Sember, J.D.

About the Author

Brette Sember, J.D.

Brette Sember, J.D., practiced law in New York, including divorce, mediation, family law, adoption, probate and estates,… Read more

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.