promissory-note-elpWhile Commercial Code 3118(a) provides for a 6 year statute of limitations which can apply to a promissory note (9-109(a)(3).  The key is this ONLY applies to a negotiable instrument (Comm. Code §3102)  So,  you have to make sure your promissory note falls under the Commercial Code.  Most real estate promissory notes do NOT qualify as negotiable instruments.  Here are some factors to consider :

1st, is the promissory note a “negotiable instrument”?   (Comm. Code §3104)  If the note contains any “additional promises”, other than payment of money, e.g. an environmental indemnity agreement, provide a personal guarantee, etc., then it is NOT a negotiable instrument.  (Comm Code §3104(a)(3); §3106(a)(2).  See also Growth Equities Corp. v. Freed (1991) 227 Cal.App.3d 506-510.  Further, if the promissory note was assigned to collect on a debt, another rule kicks in.

There are no California cases directly on point, however other jurisdictions have opinions on this issue.  See (See Savich v. Estate of Savich (Pa.Super.Ct. 2012) 55 A.3d 1161, 1164.

Guniganti v. Kalvakuntla (Tex.App. 2011) 346 S.W.3d 242, 249-250; Whitaker v. Limeco Corporation (Miss. 2010)
32 So. 3d 429, 434-435 [same]; see also Krajcir v. Egidi (1999) 305 Ill.App.3d 613, 620-621 [712 N.E.2d 917, 922-923] [statute of
limitations in section 3-118 of the UCC did not apply to notes that did not qualify as negotiable instruments; plaintiffs claim was subject to statute of limitations governing ordinary breach of contract claims]; Emerson v. Zagurski (1995) 3 Neb.App. 658, 663 [531 N.W.2d 237, 214] [“If the promissory note is not a negotiable instrument, the 5-year statute of limitations for actions on written contracts [in Nebraska] is applicable”].)

Consequently, the 4 year statute of limitations of Civil Code §387(1) probably applies.