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a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z



Acceleration - in financing terms this is when a debtor either fails to make timely payments on a loan or defaults, then the Lender may accelerate the terms of the loan making the entire loan amount, either with or without interest, due immediately. Acceleration may also mean a shortening of a time period in which something is to occur.

Acquit - in a criminal proceeding when the defendant is found to be not guilty. Typically, an acquittal means that the prosecutor was unable to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Act - is the law that is passed by any legislature within a jurisdiction. Activity Waiver and Release- document waiver Actus Reus - is Latin term that refers to an act or omission in a crime. Actus reus refers to the physical element of a crime, while mens rea refers to the criminal intent or state of mind.

Administrator - is the person appointed by the court to handle the estate of someone who has passed without a Last Will and Testament, as there is no nominated executor.

Affiant - is the person signing an affidavit, making a sworn written statement before a notary public or county clerk.

Affidavit - is a voluntarily sworn statement of written facts. Many times, affidavits are used as evidence in court and the signature of affiant, the person making the statement, is notarized.

Alternate Beneficiary - is an alternate recipient of property or gifts under a Last Will and Testament or policy, if named therein. However, the Alternate Beneficiary only receives such property if the first named beneficiary is either unable to receive or refuses to accept such property or gift.

Amendment - is the act of changing or altering an existing agreement or contract between the parties. Examples of amendments to agreements include such items as extending time frames, changing party obligations, adding or altering payment amounts, addresses, method of notice, etc.

Annulled- is when a marriage has been declared null and void. Annulled marriages are seen as if they never existed.

"As-Is"- is a term used in sales agreement where the buyer agrees to purchase the item, be it a house, car, boat, appliance or any other item in its present condition, without the right to complain if the item is found to be faulty. It is a good idea to take the time to inspect an item being sold "as is" for any defects before purchasing the item.


Beneficiary - is a person or an organization that is legally entitled to receive property through either a Last Will and Testament, a Trust, Life Insurance Policy or other legal agreement.

Bequeath - is the act of leaving personal property to a beneficiary through a Last Will and Testament.

Bequest - is the leaving of personal property, any item other than real estate, through a Last Will and Testament.

Bill of Sale - is a written statement of the transfer of ownership of either property, goods, possessions, vehicles, and other items from the seller to the purchaser. The Bill of Sale typically includes the terms of the sale, date of transfer of ownership, price, identifying information about the item being sold and other provisions. At times, the Bill of Sale may act as a sales receipt.


Chattel - is an item of personal property, not real property, that can be moved from one place to another and is not affixed to one place. Examples of chattel include: desks, computers, curtains, microwave, chair, etc.

Codicil - is an addition or a supplement, typically a minor one, to a Last Will and Testament. A codicil is a document added to a will after it is written to either explain, modify, delete, revoke, or add a provision to a Will. A codicil, like a Will, must be signed in front of witnesses and in certain states notarized as well.

Collateral - is a property, either real or personal, that a borrower promises to a lender as a guarantee in case the borrower is unable to pay back the debt. This created what is called a secured debt. If the borrower should default, the lender then takes ownership of the property that was promised as collateral.

Corporation- is a legal structure that allows a business to be organized as a separate entity from its owners. Corporations may enter into contracts, sue, be sued, have bank accounts, and may conduct many other acts necessary to carry on a business, similar to what an individual can do. The corporation's owners are called shareholders, who are shielded from personal liability from the corporation's liabilities, obligations and debts. In terms of taxes, corporations are taxed twice- once on any profits earned and then the shareholder's also pay personal income tax on any dividends received from the corporation.

Creditor - is the lender, the party that is owed either money, land, property or services from the borrower or debtor.


Damages - is the amount of harm caused to a party who is injured. Damages may also refer to the money awarded to a party based on the injury or loss caused by the other party. There are many categories of the type of damages available, some examples include: actual damages, punitive damages, special damages, etc.

Debtor - is a person or entity who owes money to another, being a lender or a creditor.

Dissolution - refers to the termination of either a contract or an agreement or may refer to the termination of either a partnership or joint venture due to certain events, such as death, bankruptcy or conflict.


Easement - is a right to use another person's real property for a very specific purpose. There are various types of land easements, some examples include the right of way- which allows one to travel over another person's land, there are also easement for utility poles, water lines, or sewer pipes.

Effective Date - is the date by which a contract or agreement comes into effect. Typically, the effective date of an agreement or contract is the date that all parties sign the agreement or if the parties are signing of different days, then the effective date is the date that the last party signed the contract or agreement. The Effective Date can also be any other date that the parties agree to cause the contract or agreement to come into effect.

Estate - is generally the property, real and personal, a person owns at the time of their death.

Executor/Executrix - is an individual or an organization that you trust and is responsible enough to carry out your wishes as stated in your Last Will and Testament. Some responsibilities of the Executor include paying debts, collecting any assets, and distributing those assets according to your Will. An Executor is a male version, while Executrix refers to female version, however today most commonly the term Executor is mainly used. An Executor is also known as a Personal Representative in certain states.


Fiduciary - is a person or company that has the power and obligation to act on behalf of another person or entity in specific circumstances, which require trust, good faith and honesty. Being a fiduciary requires that the person or entity act in the best interest of the other person. Examples of a fiduciaries include: the trustee of a trust, an attorney, stockbrokers. The fiduciary has two main fiduciary duties- the duty of loyalty and the duty of care.


Gift Causa Mortis - is a gift given in contemplation of death. Good Samaritan Rule - is the doctrine that protects a volunteer who comes to the aid of an injured or ill person from being sued by the injured or ill person for any contributory negligence caused by the volunteer, as long as he acted with reasonable care.

Grantor - is either (1.) a person who transfers ownership of real property through a grant deed to a grantee; (2.) grantor is the person who creates a trust and transfers property therein; or (3.) a grantor is a person who gives possession of something to an entity or to someone else.

Guardian - A guardian is a person whom you nominate to take care of your minor children or dependent children, in your place. Your nomination of the guardian only takes effect once the court accepts the nomination and appoints the specified guardian in your Will.


Health Care Directive - outlines a person's wishes regarding what type of medical treatment they wish to receive in the event that they are incapacitated and unable to make known their wishes.

Heir - is the person who has a right under law to inherit a deceased person's property. In general, any person who inherit property from the estate of a deceased person is considered an heir.

Holographic Will - is a will that is handwritten, dated and signed by the person creating it. Generally, holographic wills are not witnessed. In certain states holographic wills are legal and recognized, however in many it is not. It is never recommended to create a holographic will as it can be easily contested or not even recognized depending on the jurisdiction it was created in.

Homestead - is a term used to refer to real property that a person dwells in as their primary residence. A person can only have one homestead at any one time.


Incapacity - is when a person is unable to understand or lacks physical and mental ability to manage his or her own personal care, finances and property.

Incorporation - is the legal process by which a corporation is organized and created.


Judgment - is a final court order or ruling resolving the issues in a lawsuit, and determining the rights, obligations and damages of the parties involved in such a suit.


Kin - is a blood relative.


Last Will and Testament - is also known as a "Will". A Will is a document that states a person's wishes as to who should inherit any property, real or personal, that person leaves behind once they die. A Will also directs how debts and taxes should be paid and can also name a guardian for minor children if there is a need for one. A will is written, signed by the creator/testator of the will, as well as two witnesses and in some jurisdictions must be notarized as well.

Legalese - denotes old, archaic language that is used by lawyers and legal scholars.

Lienholder - a bank, person or other entity that holds a financial interest, such as a loan, in a property, which can include real property, vehicles, boats or other personal property.

Living Will - is a document that allows one to express their wishes as to the type of medical care and treatment the person wishes to receive when they are dying and are unable to communicate on their own behalf or are incapacitated to make such decisions.


Maritime Law - is the laws and rules that regulate and exclusively govern any activity at sea.

Mediation - is a way parties can resolve a dispute, without having to go to court. Usually, a neutral third-party is selected who meets with the parties and helps to bring about a mutually accepted resolution to the dispute. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator has no power to impose a binding resolution.


Naturalization - is the process by which a foreign person become a citizen of the United States of America, by following certain rules including residency requirements and passing a test.

Nee- a term that indicates a surname previous to marriage or a maiden name. it is a French word meaning previously known as.

Negligence - but for the actions that caused that damage or the actions that could have been avoided if the person had used due care.

Net Estate - is what remains of an estate after all debts have been paid.

Net Profit - is the profit that remain after all taxes, expenses and liabilities have been paid.

Notary - also known as a Notary Public. They do Notarial Acknowledgment of a person's signature by authenticating and identifying that the person signing the legal documents is the person that they claim to be.


Obligation - is a legal duty to do something.

Odometer - is an instrument in a car that measures how far a car has been driven.

Onus of Proof - is another term for "burden of proof", where the person bringing the accusation in a lawsuit has the burden to show the proof or the evidence of the claims and charges brought.

OSHA - is the abbreviation for the Occupational Safety and Health Act. This Act is a federal law that establishes the safe and healthy standards for the workplace.

Of Counsel - is an attorney that is affiliated with a law firm, however, the attorney is not fully employed by the law firm. Many times, of counsel attorneys are attorneys who are semi-retired or who consult only on certain matters.

Origination Fee - is a fee paid to a lender to process a loan application.


Parcel - is a piece of real estate.

Par Value - is the face value of a stock assigned by a corporation at the time that it issues such stock.


Quiet Enjoyment - is the right of a property owner or a tenant to enjoy the real property without any interference, disturbance or nuisance.

Quiet Title - is a lawsuit that is brought in order to obtain a determination or ruling as to who the owner or the title of a parcel of land or property is.

Quorum - is the number of people, which may include directors, shareholders or members, required to be present at a meeting before a vote can take place. The amount of quorum required may be set in the bylaws or operating agreement of any business.


Real Estate Investment Trust - also known as REIT, is a trust that is formed by a group of people who are investing money in order to purchase and sell real estate.

Real Estate Purchase Agreement - is a sales agreement for the purchase of a home. Real Property - This term refers to land and the and any property or structure located on that land. In general terms this refers to real estate, such as a house, condominium, vacation homes, buildings, and can also include empty parcels of land as well.

Registered Agent - is a representative of a corporation for the purposes of receiving important tax and legal documents on behalf of the corporation. States require that corporations have a registered agent in order to properly receive all important communications. Registered Agents must have an office within the state and be designated in the corporation's article of incorporation or an LLC's articles of organization. In some states the registered agent can be designated to the be the secretary of that state.

Residue of Estate/Residuary - is also known as remainder of an estate, which is all the property that has not been gifted or bequeathed to any specific person or entity or been used to pay any debts.

Right of Reentry - is the act of taking back possession of property by a landlord that had leased the property someone else, i.e., a tenant. Rightful Heirs- are the descendants or heirs of someone who have the right to inherit the estate of a deceased who dies without a Last Will and Testament.


Separation Agreement - is an agreement that outlines that terms of a legal separation between a married couple.

Share - is a portion of ownership in a corporation represented by a stock certificate.

Sole Custody - when a single parent obtains all the legal rights to make all childcare decisions for the child, without the need to consult the non-custodial parent.

Spendthrift Trust - is a trust that is created to protect a person, called the beneficiary, from his own spending habits or incompetence in handling money and property. An independent Trustee is then given full authority on how to handle any monies or properties placed in the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary.

Statute of Frauds - is a law in every state that requires certain types of agreements be in writing and signed in order to be enforced. If these types of agreement are not in writing and signed then they cannot be enforced. Examples of such agreements include: any agreement or contract for the sale or transfer of real estate, contracts lasting for one year or more, a will, an agreement to sell goods worth more than $500.


Temporary Insanity - is a defense used in criminal cases, where the defendant/accused says at the time of the alleged crime they were briefly insane and did not understand and were incapable of knowing the nature of the alleged crime.

Tenant - is a person who is either leasing a land, building, apartment or house from a landlord.

Testamentary - is anything relating to a Last Will and Testament.

Testamentary Disposition - is the disposition of property, bequests and gifts in accordance with the wishes of the creator of Last Will and Testament after their death.

Testator - is the person who is creating a Last Will and Testament.

Time is of the Essence - is a phrase used in contracts to denote and emphasize that any delay will be grounds for termination and voiding of the contract.

Title - is an owner's interest in real property, giving the person holding title the right to dispose of and control the property in the manner they see fit. Title is also the name of the legal document vesting ownership in a property.

Title IX - is a law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in any education program or activity, that receives federal funding.

Trade Name - is the name a company conducts business or provides services under. A trade name is not necessarily trademarked.


Uncontested Divorce - is a divorce in which the parties are able to agree to all the terms of the divorce, include how the property should be divided and how custody of any children will be shared.

Unjust Enrichment - is a principle that if a person receives money or other property unfairly and at the expense of another, then the person receiving the money or property should return it to its owner.

Unlawful - illegal.

Usurp - is to seize control or hold something that you no right to seize or control.

Usury - is when a lender lends money but charges exorbitant or illegally high interest rate. Each state has a set of laws that establish the maximum, allowed interest rate one can charge. Courts will not enforce loan payments were the rate being charge is usurious or above the maximum allowed rate in that jurisdiction.


Vacate - is (1) when a judge set aside an order or judgment that the judge finds to be incorrect; or (2) to move out of an apartment, house, building or any real estate.

Validity of a Will - is the term used to apply to the legal adequacy and sufficiency of a Last Will and Testament that is being contested.

Vehicle Identification Number - aka VIN, is a set of unique numbers and letters that are used to identify a vehicle. Each vehicle has a unique VIN, that manufacturers typically etch into the vehicle.

Venue - is the appropriate location, according to the law, to hold a trial.

Verdict - is the Jury's decision after a trial, which then is accepted by the judge presiding over the case.

Vest - is to give over title or ownership to another.

Void - to become null, invalid or unenforceable.


Warranty Deed - is a type of real estate deed that is used in the transfer of ownership that contains certain express warranties and assurances about the title being transferred.

Will Contest - is a lawsuit that challenges the validity of a Will after the person has died.

Witness - is a person who testifies under oath either at a trial or deposition and provides a firsthand account of the matter at hand. A Witness may also be someone who watches another sign a document and then signs their name attesting to the signature.