Low & Partners is committed to making the law simpler, more affordable, and available to everyone. In the spirit of this goal, we've created the Plain Language Legal Dictionary.

What is the Plain Language Legal Dictionary? Simple. It's a collection of over a thousand common legal terms defined in simple, everyday language. We cut out the legalese so anyone can make sense of their agreements, contracts, and documents.

If you've come across a term you don't quite understand, click the letter it starts with above. If your term isn't in there, let us know. We'd be happy to add it.

Browse By Letter

Absolute: Unconditional; complete; final; without any restrictions or conditions.

Acceleration: Causing a debt to become due immediately, before its scheduled date, due to a default.

Accident: An unexpected, unforeseen event. It may be a mishap or a fortunate occurrence.

Accommodation: 1. A favor done without consideration of monetary or other reward. 2. A friendly solving of differences.

Accord: An agreement by two or more parties to settle their differences or claims.

Account: An unsettled claim, based upon dealings that have created a debtor and creditor relationship.

Accounting: A statement or record summarizing all activity regarding a particular activity or item.

Accredited: Recognized as worthy and approved. An accredited law school is one approved by the licensing agencies of the various states.

Accrue: To increase, such as to gain interest that is added to principal.

Acknowledged: A verification that a document was signed voluntarily and intentionally.

Acquainted: Having knowledge of; familiar with.

Acquire: To buy or gain possession of property.

Acquisition: Something that one has purchased, been given as a gift, or has inherited.

Acquit: To declare not guilty; to set free.

Acquittance: A declaration that nothing is owed.

Adjournment: To conclude a meeting until another time.

Adjudge: To pass upon; to sentence; to render judgment.

Adjustment: A settlement of a claim, often involving the determination of a mutually agreeable compromise sum.

Administrator: The personal representative of a deceased person's estate. Also, a manager.

Adopt: To take as one's own; to approve, such as adopting a law.

Adult: Legal age of majority. In most states, one is an "adult" at age 18.

Advance payment: A payment made before it is due; a payment made early in anticipation of a future debt.

Adverse interest: Interest that displaces one's own interest, partially or completely.

Adversely: Negatively affecting one's interest, right or position.

Advise: To counsel; to give advice; to give notice.

Advocate: An attorney; one who gives legal advice and pleads for a client in a lawsuit.

Affair: A lawsuit; a matter. Also, a love relationship, usually nonmarital.

Affiant: One who makes an affidavit; a deponent.

Affiants: One who makes an affidavit; a deponent.

Affidavit: A written statement of facts, sworn to and signed by a deponent before a notary public or some other authority having the power to witness an oath.

Affinity: The ties and relationship between a person and the blood relations of his or her spouse. (A judge is disqualified from a case if he is in any way related to, or has any affinity to, any one of the litigants.)

Affirm: To confirm or ratify; a Court Of Appeals affirms or disaffirms a decision of a lower court.

Affix: To attach to; to sign; to attach one's signature.

Agent: An individual authorized by another to act for her or him; one entrusted with conducting another's business affairs.

Aggregate: The total; the entire sum; the complete amount.

Alimony: The monetary support that one is entitled to from a spouse after a separation or divorce. The Court usually fixes the amount of such alimony.

Allegation: The contention of a party in a lawsuit, including what he intends to prove.

Alleged: Claimed; charged.

Allocate: To allot; to ration; to assign.

Alter: To change, either by increasing or decreasing; an assessment may be altered.

Alternate beneficiaries: Persons who are to receive a gift because the first choice (primary beneficiary) is dead.

Amend: To correct; to change; to alter so as to correct defects in a document.

Amortization: The paying off of an indebtedness through regular installments. (A mortgage on property is amortized over a period of years through regular payments.)

Ancestor: A person from whom one is descended; a progenitor. (Specifically, a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc.)

Ancillary administration: A proceeding in a locality where a deceased person owned property, but which is a different locality from the one in which the estate is being administered.

Annex: To join; to attach.

Annual: Yearly; occurring once a year.

Annuity: A yearly payment, usually paid by an insurance company to an insured. The annuity may be for a certain specified number of years or for life.

Annulled: Dissolved or voided.

Annulment: The act of canceling something; making it void. An annulment of marriage is a legal decision that the marriage never existed. (An annulment is not a divorce.)

Anticipation: The right to pay off a mortgage before it is due, without the payment of a penalty for such action.

Appeal: The request for a review by a higher court of a verdict or decision made by a lower court.

Appearance: The actual presence in court of the defendant and plaintiff in a suit. (By making an appearance, the parties to the suit place themselves within the authority of the court.)

Appellate court: A court with the authority to review the handling and decision of a case tried in a lower court.

Append: To attach or add.

Applicant: Someone who files a petition or makes an application; a petitioner; a person who applies for a legal remedy to his problem.

Appraisal: An evaluation of the worth of property. When ordered by a court, such estimation of value may be carried out by one or more reputable, qualified, disinterested parties.

Appropriation: The act of taking control of something, such as the taking over of private property for public use.

Approval: The act of agreeing and sanctioning.

Arbitration: The submission by two contesting parties of their disagreement to an impartial arbitrator, usually agreeing that his ruling in the dispute will be binding and final.

Arbitrator: A disinterested person, chosen by the parties in a dispute, who will hear the details of the dispute and who will render a decision as to how the dispute shall be settled.

Argument: A presentation in a legal case that attempts to convince people that their contentions are right.

Armed force: A posse; a group of armed civilians authorized by the official peace officers of the community to aid in the capture of criminals and the prevention of crime.

Arrest: The taking of a person into custody by an officer of the law. To deny an individual his personal liberty by placing him under the jurisdiction of the law.

Articles: The various provisions of a law, an ordinance, or a contractual agreement. (a partnership agreement, for example, may contain many articles or clauses making up the total arrangement.)

Articles of Incorporation: The document by which a corporation is formed and organized under the corporation laws of the state. (Each state has its own laws of incorporation.)

Articles of Organization: Document filed with a state's Secretary of State, used to form a limited liability company. Sometimes referred to as a "Certificate of Organization" or "Certificate of Formation", depending on state law.

As between: The relative position of two people in reference to a third person, with one party having a different relationship from the other in regard to the third person.

As is: An expression denoting the fact that goods are being sold in the condition the seller has stated they were in. Such goods are sold as is. (It is the purchaser's responsibility to discover if such goods are damaged.)

Ascertain: To find out; to make certain, without doubt.

Assert: To declare; to maintain; to charge as true.

Assess: To fix the value of something. (Private property is assessed in order to determine the amount of taxes to be paid.)

Assessed: To fix the value of something. (Private property is assessed in order to determine the amount of taxes to be paid.)

Assets: Property of any kind.

Assign: Transfer to another. In the context of a lease, the transfer by a lessee to another person of all of the lessee's interest in the leased property; an assignment differs from a sublease in that a sublease does not transfer all of the lessee's rights in the property.

Assignable: Negotiable; transferable.

Assigning: Transferring to another. In the context of a lease, the transfer by a lessee to another person of all of the lessee's interest in the leased property; an assignment differs from a sublease in that a sublease does not transfer all of the lessee's rights in the property.

Assignment: The transfer of property from one person to another.

Associate: An attorney practicing with another attorney, or with a firm of attorneys, but not as a partner or member of the firm.

Association: A group of people who have formed an organization to pursue a common purpose.

Assumption: The act of assuming responsibility; the act of taking for granted; the act of adopting an obligation.

Assurance: Insurance.

Assured: Insured.

At law: According to law. (This implies that an issue depends upon an existing law, not upon equity or fairness.)

Attest: To state to be true; to bear witness to.

Attorney general: The chief law officer of a state or of a nation.

Attorney-in-fact: An individual who is authorized by a written document to act for another. The individual need not be an attorney and the written document is often called a Power of Attorney.

Auction: A sale, open to the public, of items and property sold to the highest bidder.

Authority: 1. The power and right to do a certain act. 2. A person who has been given certain powers and rights.

Authorize: To empower someone to act; to give the authority for someone to carry out a certain act.

Authorized: To empower someone to act; to give the authority for someone to carry out a certain act.

Autopsy: Necropsy. The examination of a dead body by a pathologist for the purpose of finding the cause of death. Also known as a post-mortem examination.

Award: The decision of arbitrators in giving moneys to a party who has claimed damages; the awarding of money to a worker injured during the course of his work. This latter award is said to be a compensation award.

Backup withholding: The IRS requires backup withholding for certain taxpayers, usually because of their past failure to pay taxes. Persons making certain payments to such taxpayers must withhold and pay to the IRS 31% of such payments.

Bad faith: Conduct in which there is a design of ill-will or an ulterior motive to commit deceit or fraud.

Balance sheet: A financial statement showing the assets and liabilities of a business. Bankrupt: Unable to meet one's obligation and pay one's creditors. The term may apply to an individual, partnership, or corporation. Legal bankruptcy is decreed by a court.

Bankruptcy: The state of being unable to pay one's debts. Such person or company is subject to being proceeded against by his creditors, according to prevailing bankruptcy laws.

Battery: Physical violence inflicted upon someone without his consent; unlawful injury to someone's body.

Bear interest: When making a loan, the lender usually asks that the money be augmented by the payment of interest. Thus, a loan of $1,000 may bear interest of six percent per annum, or sixty dollars per year.

Bearer: The person who has a document in his possession and who will receive any payment that is due on said document. As an example, when a check or note is payable to bearer, anyone who presents the check or note will receive the payment therefrom.

Beneficiaries: An individual who receives benefits granted to him by another. As examples, an heir is given money in a will by someone who has died; a person who is named to receive the moneys from a life insurance policy. (Institutions, corporations, charitable organizations, etcetera, may all be beneficiaries.)

Beneficiary: An individual who receives benefits granted to him by another. As examples, an heir is given money in a will by someone who has died; a person who is named to receive the moneys from a life insurance policy. (Institutions, corporations, charitable organizations, etcetera, may all be beneficiaries.)

Benefit: Money that is paid as a result of a claim made on a medical or disability insurance policy.

Bequest: A gift given in a will.

Bind: To cause a legal obligation. This obligation may come about as the result of a law, a contract, or a decree of a court. (One can bind himself as well as another person.)

Biological parents: A person's natural mother and father.

Birth certificate: A certificate filed with the proper authorities upon the birth of a child. Such certificate records the date and place of birth, the parents' names, etc. Birth certificates may be filed in local communities, counties, or seats of state governments.

Board of directors: A group of people who represent a corporation and run its business.

Board of health: A group of people whose duties involve the safeguarding of the public's health. They have many functions, including overseeing the hygiene and sanitary conditions of a community, the administration of immunizations to prevent communicable disease, and the keeping of health statistics. (Boards of health may have county, city, or state jurisdiction.)

Bodily injury: Any harm coming to the body as the result of external force. Such injury may come from a blow or it may come from malpractice of a physician, or as the result of rape or attempted rape.

Bona fide: True; honest; acting in good faith.

Bond: 1. A fiduciary bond is similar to an insurance policy because it represents an arrangement where one party (the "surety") agrees, for a fee, to pay money or perform an obligation in the event the fiduciary (trustee, conservator, executor) fails to properly perform its duties. 2. An investment bond is a promise by the issuing company to repay a loan/investment at the end of a term, plus interest.

Bonus: A commission; money paid by an employer to an employee as a reward for good performance; an extra dividend; money paid by a mortgagor to a mortgagee for prepayment of a mortgage debt.

Born alive: A newly delivered child, born with a heartbeat, but who never establishes breathing, and thus dies within minutes after being born.

Borrow: To obtain a loan. Implied in borrowing is the intention and promise to repay or to return.

Bound: Being controlled by an obligation. (Someone is bound to perform a certain act whether he wants to or not. Similarly, one is bound by the clauses in a contract.)

Bovine: A Cow.

Breach: Failure to perform an obligation; a violation of the terms of an agreement.

Bring suit: The initiation of legal proceedings; to start an action.

Broker: A person employed as an agent for the purpose of buying or selling something at the request of another individual, in compensation for which he receives a commission. Also, a middleman; a negotiator between two parties; a dealer in securities; an individual who sells property for an owner.

Buy-out provision: A provision in a lease which allows the tenant to purchase the property being leased.

By virtue of: By authority of; because of. (Payments made to a public official by virtue of his rightful function, according to law.)

Bylaws: Rules and regulations adopted by corporations, associations, benefit societies, etcetera, to govern their ongoing activities. Such bylaws must be compatible with the charters of the various organizations and must be in conformity with their aims and goals.

Cancel: To strike out; to cross out; to annul a document by erasure or by defacing it. When a debt is owed, it is canceled upon payment.

Candidate: A person seeking an office. In politics, an individual who has been nominated by his party and who will stand election.

Capable: Competent; having legal power; qualified.

Capital gains: Profits from the sale of capital assets in excess of costs and values. Such gains are subject to special taxation, as specified by tax laws.

Capital investment: Moneys spent to increase the worth of an asset.

Capitalize: To estimate the value of a stock; to authorize the issuance of a certain number of stocks and bonds in the charter of a corporation; to supply with capital.

Capture: To seize. The right to possess that which is on one's own property. Thus, an owner captures the oil which lies beneath his land.

Cargo: The goods and merchandise carried by a merchant ship.

Cash flow: An accounting term for the total net income plus moneys allowed for depreciation of equipment and plant.

Cash surrender value: The value of an insurance policy at any specific time before the policy is due. This amount is calculated according to established rules. The insured who is canceling his insurance is entitled to a certain amount of money, determined by how much premium he has paid in during the life of the policy.

Cash value: The amount for which something can be sold in a free market. Also known as market value, fair market value, clear market value.

Certainty: Without the shadow of a doubt; Clarity; particularity; accuracy; distinctness. (The opposite of uncertainty.)

Certificate: A written statement serving as verification and authentication of the fact set forth. Such a document is often signed by a notary public.

Certified check: The signing of a check by a bank officer showing that the depositor has adequate funds to cover the amount of the check.

Certified copy: A copy of a document signifying that it is a true copy. Such copy is certified by the officer to whose custody the original document is entrusted.

Certify: To vouch for the authenticity of something. Certification is often carried out by signing a document, thus attesting to its validity.

Challenge: An obligation; an exception.

Chambers: The private office of a judge.

Change of beneficiary: Switching a bequest or beneficial interest from one person to another.

Charitable organization: One that issues no capital stock and has nothing in its charter providing for dividends or profits.

Charitable trust: A trust whose assets and income shall benefit the general public, or a significant segment of the public.

Charter: An act of a legislature creating a corporation and setting forth its franchise; also, a document defining the organization of a corporation.

Child support: A legal obligation to financially support one's child.

Children's trust: An arrangement created by a parent, to be effective immediately or, more typically, upon the parent's death, whereby assets of the parent are transferred to a trustee to be held for the benefit of the parent's children.

Choate: Complete; justifiable against other claims; the opposite of inchoate.

Chose: A case of action; chattel or personal property; a personal right; a chose in action.

Citation: A notice of a court proceeding; a writ commanding a person to appear in court on a certain day.

Cite: To summon to appear in court. This is usually carried out by serving the cited individual with a summons. Cite also means to quote or to refer to a preceding case.

Citizen: An inhabitant of a town, city, state, or country, entitled to all its privileges. There are two main types of citizens of a country, namely, the native-born citizen (one born in his country) and the naturalized citizen (one born in a foreign country but who has adopted the citizenship of his present country).

Civil liability: A sum of money assessed against a defendant. It may be single, double, or treble the original amount of the actual damages.

Claim: A demand for property or money, or its equivalent; an assertion that one is entitled to something or that one owns something.

Clear and convincing proof: Proof beyond a reasonable doubt; evidence that has convinced an unbiased jury, composed of competent, reasonable jurors.

Cleared: Acquitted; forgiven; declared innocent.

Client: Someone who retains or employs an attorney.

Closing: Completing a transaction for the purchase or sale of real estate; making the final argument in a trial.

Code: A collection of laws; the published statutes governing a certain area, arranged in a systematic manner, such as a penal code, sanitary code, etcetera.

Codicil: An addition or supplement to a will. It may also delete or modify various provisions of a will. (Codicils must be witnessed and signed in the same manner as the original will.)

Codicils: An addition or supplement to a will. It may also delete or modify various provisions of a will. (Codicils must be witnessed and signed in the same manner as the original will.)

Co-executor: One of two or more people designated to administer someone's estate; joint executor.

Collateral: Property pledged to a creditor to secure a debt. Columbarium: A structure, often adorned with stained glass or other decorations, containing chambers to hold urns for cremated remains.

Command: An order, usually implying that some action must be taken, as directed.

Commingle: To put together into one fund moneys from several different sources.

Commission: An authority; an authorization; a directive from a court authorizing a person or group of persons to exercise some special function or to perform certain specific act.

Commissioner of Oaths: A public official who is authorized to witness signatures on documents, to administer oaths, and to perform other tasks, such as attesting to the genuineness of various papers.

Commit: To send someone to prison, to a mental institution, a reformatory, etcetera, by authority of a court order.

Common stock: Common stock is a form of stock in which the owners have voting powers and rights to participate in the profits of the corporation. However, the rights to profits are subject to any superior rights that may have been granted by the company to the holders of preferred stock.

Community: A society of people living in a particular neighborhood or vicinity. It presupposes common interests.

Compact: A serious, important contract; an agreement setting forth rights and obligations. Compacts often refer to agreements between nations.

Compensation: Remuneration; payment for services rendered; money paid to an injured employee.

Competence: Duly qualified; able; possessing the required legal qualifications.

Competency: The presence of those attributes that makes a witness fit to give testimony; qualifications to perform; capability.

Competent: Duly qualified; able; possessing the required legal qualifications.

Complaint: The pleading by which a plaintiff brings a suit and sets forth the reasons for his action.

Comply: To act in accordance with one's obligations; to yield; to carry into effect; to accommodate.

Compromise: An agreement to make concessions in a dispute or litigation, thus settling outstanding claims. Such arrangement may take place out of court, or in court.

Conclusion: Closing argument.

Concur: To agree; to happen at the same time.

Condemn: To judge guilty; to declare a building unfit for occupancy and to therefore order its destruction; to pass judgment upon someone convicted of a crime.

Condominium: The joint ownership of a multiunit dwelling, each of whose owners has exclusive ownership of an individual unit, but in which all common elements (the lobby, the grounds, swimming pool, etcetera) are owned by the tenants in common with no single tenant having exclusive rights to such facilities.

Conduct: To regulate or to manage and direct. Also, a term meaning behavior, such as good conduct or bad conduct. (A criminal in jail may be given special consideration because of good conduct.)

Confidential information: Information that is received in confidence and therefore should not and can not be revealed, unless the giver of the information approves such revelation.

Confidentiality: The quality of being confidential, privileged, or secret.

Confirmation: A written document stating that certain outstanding matters have been agreed upon and made binding; an affirmation.

Conformity: Resemblance; agreement; correspondence in form or use.

Congress: 1. In America, Congress is composed of the two legislative bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. 2. In international law, a Congress is an assembly of representatives from different countries who meet to consider matters for their common good.

Consent: To voluntarily agree; to permit or approve.

Consequence: The natural result that takes place from an event; that which one would expect to happen. A painful lump on the head is a consequence of a severe blow to the head.

Consequential damages: Loss or injury that results indirectly. As an example, a store owner who has a fire loses not only the goods and fixtures that have been burned, but he loses what he would have earned had there been no fire and he could have continued to sell his merchandise.

Conservator: An individual appointed by a court to have authority over anotherÃ?s affairs. Depending on the state, a conservator may have authority over property, business, or personal matters.

Consider: To think about, to study or ponder, to examine carefully. Consideration: 1. A term applied when a matter has been heard and decided; consideration has been given. 2. A matter of contract wherein one party agrees to do something in return for something the other party agrees to give him, such as money, goods, property, etc.

Consign: Delivery of goods from the owner to another party ("consignee") to be sold by the consignee for the benefit of the owner.

Consignment: Delivery of goods from the owner to another party ("consignee") to be sold by the consignee for the benefit of the owner.

Consistent: In agreement with; not contradictory.

Constitution: A document containing the fundamental laws governing a political entity, such as a nation or state. Also, a document stating the principles and rules by which a society or company or corporation shall be governed.

Constraint: Restraint; compulsion; an interference or restraint of free will or of liberty.

Construction: The process of determining the real meaning of a law, or a contract, when its real meaning is somewhat obscure.

Construe: To interpret; to ascertain the meaning of, especially the language of a document.

Construed: To interpret; to ascertain the meaning of, especially the language of a document.

Consumer rights: Legal rights given to purchasers of goods or services for personal use. These rights may be created by federal, state, or local laws and may vary from state to state.

Contemporaneous: Taking place at the same time as another occurrence.

Context: Those parts of a spoken or written passage that precede or follow a specific word, phrase, or sentence. Taking words out of context often alters the meaning of the entire passage or text.

Contingency: The possibility of happening; an event that may occur.

Continuance: The postponement or adjournment of a case pending in court to some future date.

Contract: An agreement between two or more people, one party (or parties) agreeing to perform certain acts, the other party (or parties) agreeing to pay for or give other consideration for said performance. A contract places an obligation on one party to do something and an obligation upon the other party to reward the doer.

Contractor: Someone who is engaged to do a job or perform an act but who maintains control over how the job or act is to be carried out. In medical jurisprudence, a surgeon who agrees to perform a certain operation is an independent contractor.

Contributory: In terms of a pension plan, a plan to which both the employer and the employee make contributions.

Controversy: A suit or civil action; an issue appropriate for determination in a court of law. Controversies take place between plaintiffs and defendants.

Conversion: 1. The taking of another's property without permission or cause. It is an unlawful act. 2. In equity, conversion is the exchange of property from real to personal, or vice versa.

Convey: Transfer.

Convict: Someone who has been found guilty of a crime or misdemeanor; to find an accused guilty.

Convincing proof: Proof that is sufficient to establish a charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Corporate seal: An emblem or symbol of a corporation, often embossed on a corporation's stock or bond certificates, or on a contract of the corporation.

Corporation: A legal entity composed, usually, of a number of people who have joined together for a common purpose. Such legal entities are formed under city, state, or federal laws. Some corporations are public and some are private; some private corporations are organized for profit, others for nonprofit. Private corporations often issue stock to their owners in return for the money they invest.

Co-Signer: Someone who signs a document along with another person or persons, often assuming obligations to be shared with the other signers.

Co-Trustee: One of two or more people who jointly hold, manage and distribute property for the benefit of another under a trust; joint trustee.

Counsel: A lawyer; an attorney; a counselor. To counsel means to advise.

Count: To state or plead a case in court; to argue a case; a particular charge in an indictment.

Court: A place where justice is administered. There are dozens of different types of courts, each especially set up for the administration of a particular type of justice.

Covenant: A written agreement, signed and notarized, between two or more people, in which one party or parties promises to perform certain acts and the other party or parties agree to recompense him or them for such performance. In other words, a covenant is a binding contract between two or more people. Suits for violation of a covenant are ex contract, arising out of a written contract.

Coverage: The items or occurrences that an insurance company will pay for if a claim is made; the amount of money that is paid for a loss.

Credibility: The believability of a witness; worthy of belief.

Credit: The ability of someone to borrow, based upon the opinion of the bank, or other lender, as to his capability to repay and his reliability to repay.

Credit bureau: A business that collects and sells information regarding the payment history and creditworthiness of persons and organizations.

Credit report: A summary of a personÃ?s past performance and current ability to pay debts, usually prepared by a credit bureau.

Creditor: A person to whom a debt is owed. (The one owing the creditor is known as the debtor.)

Crime: A violation of an existing law or a failure to perform an act required by law.

Criminal: Someone who has committed a crime of a serious nature. The word also means wicked.

Cure: To remedy a default or violation.

Current liability: An existing debt; an indebtedness that should be paid off within a year's time.

Current value: The prevailing price or value; the common market price at the place where the commodity originates.

Custodian: An individual employed to safeguard and watch over somebody's property.

Custody: The care and control of property, or of a person or persons. Custody does not necessarily imply ownership. A child may be given over to the custody of a parent or guardian; a prisoner may be held in custody by being placed in jail.

Custom: An oft-repeated mode of conduct; a form of behavior acceptable to the majority of society, such as working five or six days a week. A custom, by its universal adoption and repetition, acquires the importance and effect of a law in a particular community or country.

Customarily: According to the usual order or procedure; in accordance with the industry norm.

Damages: Compensation that the law awards to someone who has been injured or suffers a loss because of the action of another.

Data: A fact or facts from which conclusions are drawn; information, collected in order to reach a conclusion.

Deal: A transaction between two or more people; a business arrangement to attain certain desired results.

Death: The end of life. Most states legally define death as either the irreversible cessation of (a) brain function (brain death), or (b) circulatory and respiratory function.

Death Benefit: Money that is paid by an insurance company or employer to a beneficiary when a person dies.

Debt: Money owed; money owed as the result of an agreement or contract, oral or written.

Debtor: A person who owes money; someone liable by contract to pay a claim.

Deceased: A person who has died.

Decedent: A deceased person.

Declarant: The person who makes a statement, usually written, such as a Living Will. Declaration: A formal statement intended fo legal significance; e.g., a "declaration of trusst" creates the trust.

Decree: The decision of a court of equity. A judgment is a decision of a court of law.

Deductible: The portion of a loss that an insured must pay before payment is made by an insurance company.

Deed: A written document transferring the ownership of land, and the buildings thereon, to another person or persons.

Deem: To determine; to consider; to judge.

Default: The failure of a person, persons, corporations, or municipalities to pay their debts; the failure to carry out an obligation.

Defend: To attempt to defeat a claim or charge; to represent a defendant.

Defendant: The party who refutes a claim made by a plaintiff; the person accused in a lawsuit.

Defense: The denial of charges, brought by a plaintiff against a defendant; an answer to a complaint.

Deletion: The crossing out or removal of certain words, sentences, or clauses from a legal document.

Deliberate: 1. An act that has been thought out and considered. (The opposite of spontaneous or impromptu.) 2. To deliberate means to think about or consider, or to plan beforehand.

Delinquent: An individual who does not carry out that which is expected of him or that which he has promised to do; a debt that is due and has not been paid; neglectful of duty.

Demand: A legal obligation; a claim; to claim as one's right; to insist upon; a positive request that presupposes that there is no defense to the claim or right.

Demise: A deed; a lease; a transfer of property; a conveyance or creation of an estate to someone else for life. In medical jurisprudence, demise is a death.

Denial: A defense against a charge; a contradiction; a traverse. (When a defendant answers a plaintiff's charges, he or she often denies them. Even if it is stated that the defendant has insufficient information to respond to a complaint, this will constitute a denial.)

Deny: To issue a denial; to contradict; to protest.

Dependent: Someone who relies upon another for his partial or total support and maintenance. (A spouse or minor child is referred to as a dependent.)

Depose: To make a statement under oath.

Descendant: A child, grandchild, great-grandchild, and so forth, down through the generations.

Descent: Inheritance from one's parents, grandparents, etcetera.

Designate: To choose or select a person to serve in a specified role or capacity.

Designee: The chosen recipient of certain rights or obligations from another person.

Determination: The end of a lawsuit, terminated by a decision of the court. (A case is determined in favor of one or the other of the parties to the suit.)

Device: A deceit or plan to trick. A gambling device may be a machine specially designed to cheat those who gamble.

Devise: A gift originating from a clause in a will, usually a gift of real estate. However, a devise may refer to a gift of personal property.

Direct: 1. Immediate; proximate; the opposite of indirect and remote. 2. To order; to guide; to command; to control; to regulate.

Disability: 1. The state of being legally incapable to perform an act; a lack of competence or power to perform. 2. An injury or illness which incapacitates one from carrying out his usual duties. Such a disability may be physical or mental, total or partial, temporary or permanent.

Disabled:  1. The state of being legally incapable to perform an act; a lack of competence or power to perform. 2. An injury or illness which incapacitates one from carrying out his usual duties. Such a disability may be physical or mental, total or partial, temporary or permanent.

Disapprove: To disallow; to render an unfavorable judgment; to refuse to confirm a nomination or appointment of an official.

Discharge: 1. To satisfy a financial obligation. 2. To release; to terminate an individualÃ?s employment; to dismiss a healthcare provider. 3. To release a patient from a hospital.

Disclaim: To give up a legal claim.

Disclaimer: The refusal of a beneficiary to accept an inheritance.

Disclosure: The making known of something; a revelation; the uncovering of something that had been kept secret.

Discontinuance: The failure of a plaintiff to continue to press the suit. As a consequence, the case is dismissed.

Discrepancy: An inconsistency between the contentions of a party to a suit and the actual facts; a variance; a lack of conformity.

Discrimination: The denial of equal protection of the laws; the failure to treat all people alike despite differences in race, color, creed, sex, or social position.

Disposition: The final determination of a matter, arrangement. Method of handling the body of a deceased person, for example by cremation or burial.

Dispute: A controversy; an argument. In law, a dispute arises when one party presents an argument or a point of view that he contends is factual and such point of view or argument is denied by the other party.

Disqualify: To render unfit; to make someone ineligible; to revoke qualification. A judge may disqualify himself from trying a case because he may have an interest in its outcome, or he may believe that he cannot be completely impartial.

Dissolution: The cancellation of a contract or partnership; the act of revoking or canceling a legal proceeding, as when a court dissolves an injunction; the act of terminating a marriage; the dissolving of a corporation.

Dissolve: To cancel or terminate.

Distress: To take property away from a wrongdoer and to give it to the party he has injured, in order to give satisfaction for the wrong.

Distribution: The transfer of the assets of a deceased person's estate to the heirs, after all debts, claims, and taxes have been paid.

Distributions: The transmission of the assets of a deceased person's estate to the heirs, after all debts, claims, and taxes have been paid.

District court: A court of the federal government or of a state, having jurisdiction over a particular geographic area. Such area may be a whole state, several states, or only part of a state, depending upon the size of its population.

Dividend: A fund set aside by a corporation composed of profits that will be apportioned to its various stockholders. When a corporation is profitable, its board of directors will usually declare a dividend. When the corporation fails to make money for any prolonged period of time, it may skip or fail to declare dividends.

Divorce: A legal ending, by court order, of a marriage. The legal basis for divorce differs from state to state; there is no national divorce law.

Divorced: A legal ending, by court order, of a marriage. The legal basis for divorce differs from state to state; there is no national divorce law.

Divulge: To disclose information previously unknown.

Doctrine: A belief; a tenet; a government policy, such as the Doctrine that all people are created equal.

Donee: Someone who receives a gift; a person who is granted with a power of appointment.

Donor: The giver; one who makes a gift or sets up a trust. In medical jurisprudence, one who gives blood or an organ to a recipient.

Dower: The right that a widow has to her dead husband's property. Dower rights vary from province to province in our country, as each province has its own laws on the subject.

Draft: A written instruction from one person to another, ordering the payment of a specified sum of money to a third person on a specified date in the future. Also known as a bill of exchange.

Due care: The type of care that a sensible person exercises in a situation requiring carefulness. A good example would be when a person, prior to taking a long automobile trip, has his car checked out thoroughly before embarking upon the trip.

Due date: The date upon which a debt falls due; the date upon which taxes should be paid; the date upon which a promissory note is to be paid. due-on-sale A loan provision requiring the loan to be repaid immediately if the underlying security for the loan is sold.

Duly: Suitably; according to legal requirements; properly executed; according to law.

Durable: Able to remain in existence for a long period of time regardless of the existence of obstacles, impediments or other adverse conditions. A power of attorney is said to be durable if it remains in effect even after the principal becomes incapacitated or incompetent.

Duress: Undue pressure by one person against another in order to get him to do something he does not want to do. This pressure might take the form of threats of bodily harm, or of exposure of information that the threatened person wants to keep secret, etcetera.

Dwelling: A house or building in which people live.

Easement: The right of a non-owner to use land. Such a non-owner may be a next-door neighbor, the general public, or the government. An easement would be the right of an owner of property, who has no land on the street, to use another individual's property to reach the street. Easements must be negotiated and voluntarily agreed to by the owners of property.

Effective: Refers to the date on which an agreement takes effect.

Elimination period: The amount of time a person must wait before benefits can be collected on a disability insurance policy.

Empower: To grant authority; to delegate; to commission.

Enable: To give someone the power to do something.

Encroachment: Extending one's property onto that of another; a trespass, such as building a fence that intrudes upon or obstructs a public highway.

Encumber: To burden property with debt, such as to mortgage or otherwise grant a security interest in property to another.

Encumbrance: A liability that lowers the value of a piece of property, such as a lien or a mortgage.

Endorsement: Signing a check or note, or other negotiable document, so that the rights granted by the check or note are transferred to another person. (When someone endorses a check, it permits the check to be cashed or deposited by another person.)

Enforceable: Capable of being performed; a contract is enforceable if a court of law would find it valid and effective.

Engage: To apply oneself; to be employed or provide service to another under an agreement.

Ensue: To follow or to come later. When one is given a large dose of sleeping pills, sleep ensues. The word implies that there is a direct connection between a certain act and what follows said act.

Entitle: To give the right to a claim; to grant a title or right; to furnish sufficient grounds for a title or claim. 

Entity: Something that exists as its own separate unit.

Entry: The written record of a court proceeding.

Enumerated: Mentioned specifically; specified.

Enure: Come into operation; take effect.

Enurement: To operate or to take effect upon something.

Equitable: Fair; just; according to the principles of justice. An equitable settlement of a dispute is fair to both sides.

Equity: The value remaining after subtracting corresponding debts; excess of assets over liabilities; net worth.

Escape: The unlawful departure of a prisoner from his place of confinement.

Estate: 1. Property in which someone has an interest; a person's right to property, such as real estate. 2. An estate is composed of a person's total possessions, including money, securities, land, etcetera. (The word estate is synonymous with the word property.)

Eviction: The act of getting one to leave lands or quarters he has been occupying, such an act being authorized by a court of law.

Evidence: Information tending to prove a claim.

Examination: The questioning of an individual or individuals in connection with a legal matter.

Exception: The disagreement with a judge's refusal of a request made by one of the attorneys in a case. The request usually takes the form of an objection, and the refusal is stated by the judge in the words objection overruled. The exception is duly recorded and may possibly form the basis for a future appeal from the court's decision in the case.

Excess: 1. Overreacting to a situation; using more force than is necessary in protecting oneself. 2. The holding of more moneys than is necessary by a corporation. (Such excess moneys, profits, might have been distributed to stockholders.) 3. Too much.

Exclusion: Shutting out; denying participation. Allowing or including only strictly-defined members of a group or category, with the implication that those not specifically named are not included.

Exclusive: 1. Restrictive; controlled by one person alone. (An exclusive right to sell merchandise means that no one else may sell the product.) 2. An exclusive organization is one that limits its membership strictly, according to its own rules and regulations.

Excuse: 1. A reason given for doing, or not doing, a thing. 2. A request to a court to forgive an unlawful act because of extenuating circumstances.

Execute: To finish; to sign as complete; to carry out all formalities.

Execution: Completion of all formalities; performance of an action.

Executor: The person named by a maker of a will to carry out the directions as set forth in the will. The executor's duties include the payment of all outstanding debts and the disbursement of property to the heirs, as designated in the will. Also, the executor makes all bequests to charitable organizations, etcetera, as directed in the will.

Exemption: The act of being freed from a certain obligation that would ordinarily prevail, such as an exemption from serving on a jury because of a house-confining illness.

Exhibit: A paper or document which contains information relevant to the subject matter, that is attached to the principal document to supplement or help explain that document. For example; a list, map, chart, schedule, another document, or a detailed description.

Exonerated: Absolved of a charge; declared not responsible; not guilty; released from liability; exculpated.

Expending: Spending.

Expert witness: A witness with special knowledge in a particular sphere, such as a scientist, an engineer, etcetera. Such a witness gives expert testimony.

Express: An affirmative, definite statement. Express warranty: 1. A warranty that is bound by the explicit statements of the seller. 2. A statement by an insured person, expressed in the insurance policy, that certain facts are true.

Face: Material that appears on a document or statute without any explanation or modification.

Facsimile: An exact copy.

Fact: Something that took place; an act; something actual and real; an incident that occurred; an event.

Fair and equitable: In a bankruptcy, fair and equitable is a term used to signify that everything is being done to see that creditors are paid fairly and reasonably, and that the stockholders are also treated equitably. Such treatment generally takes place during the reorganization of the bankrupt company.

Fair market value: The price that a willing buyer and a willing seller would agree to.

False pretenses: A premeditated, calculated, thought-out misrepresentation of fact or situation, frequently entered into to defraud someone of property or money.

False statement: A deceitful, purposely untrue statement made for ulterior motives.

Familiarity: Knowing someone through frequent contacts, not usually implying intimacy; more than a casual acquaintance.

Fault: Negligence; a wrongful act; a departure from that which is expected of someone; a neglect of obligation or duty; mismanagement; bad faith.

Fed: Abbreviation for the Federal Reserve System, the central United States Bank that controls the nation's monetary supply (usually referred to as the Fed).

Fee: A recompense for a service.

Fetus: An unborn child beyond three months in its development. (Prior to that period, the unborn child is known as an embryo.)

Fictitious: Pretended; false; imaginary; counterfeit; not genuine.

Fiduciary: A person or organization who is given authority and responsibility over assets not owned by that fiduciary, such as an executor or personal representative in an estate, a trustee for a trust, or a conservator in a conservatorship.

Final: Definitive; terminating; completed. The term final is used in contrast to the word interlocutory.

Financial statement: A written statement that an individual submits to a bank prior to receiving a loan; a credit statement.

Findings: The results of the deliberations of a court or jury; the decisions expressed by a judicial authority after consideration of all the facts.

Fine: To impose a monetary penalty upon someone convicted of an offense.

Firm: A partnership or company that is unincorporated; a business concern.

First publication: The copyright by an author prior to publication of a manuscript; the date upon which the first copies of a work were placed on sale.

Fiscal: An adjective referring to financial matters in general. (Fiscal affairs are financial affairs.)

Fiscal Year: A repeating twelve-month period chosen by a business for accounting purposes. A fiscal year can, but need not, end on December 31—the "calendar year." For value received: An expression denoting that a bill has been paid, acknowledging having received full value.

Force majeure: In contracts, a clause excusing non-performance of the contract if non-performance is due to unforeseen events beyond the control of the parties, such as acts of God.

Foreign trade: Import and export trade between countries.

Forfeit: To lose the right to do something, especially because of defaulting an obligation or because of an offense.

Forfeited: To lose the right to do something, especially because of defaulting an obligation or because of an offense.

Foundation: A charitable organization; an endowment of moneys to a charitable organization. An individual can establish a fund or foundation, the earnings of which are designated to go for charitable purposes.

Fraud: An intentional distortion of the truth perpetrated upon someone in order to convince him to give up money, property, some right, or other thing rightfully belonging to him; deception; deceit, trickery.

Fraudulent: In bad faith; dishonest.

Free and clear: A "clean" title; a title to property that is free of liens or other possible hindrances.

Free on Board: The term, or its abbreviation "f.o.b.", is used in a quotation or in a contract between a seller and a buyer of goods to be delivered. The term, which is usually followed by a defined location—often either the sellerÃ?s or the buyerÃ?s place of business, means that the seller is responsible for delivering the goods to that defined location and assuming the risk of loss until then.

Frequency: The number of times that a payment is made, for example, monthly, quarterly or annually.

Fringe benefits: Benefits received by employees in addition to their wages. Health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and pension benefits are all classified as fringe benefits.

Full disclosure: The telling of all that one knows, not hiding or concealing anything that might be pertinent to the case.

Furnish: To provide, equip, or supply.

Garnishment: A legal proceeding in which a creditor seeks to obtain payment from a debtor out of money, salary, or property of the debtor. The procedure takes place after a judgment against the debtor has already been handed down.

General instruction: An instruction by a judge to a jury, setting down the salient points in the case that must be considered before bringing in a verdict. In this instruction, the judge will state that the merits of the case must be decided only on the evidence. The judge will also state the limitations of the issues to be decided.

General partners: Owners of a partnership who are responsible for the management of the partnership, receive a share of the partnership's profits and losses, and who are personally liable for the actions of the other partners and the debts of the business.

General partnership: An unincorporated business owned by more than one person, where all of the partners share equally in the management, profits and losses.

General Power of Attorney: A document in which a person authorizes another person or entity to act on his or her behalf in a variety of situations.

Gift tax: A tax on the transfer of property from one living person to another. The tax is levied on the transfer, not on the property transferred.

Give notice: To inform someone that a legal suit is about to take place. Such notice is usually served legally, although it may be informal notification.

Good faith: Honest intentions; fairness; equity. (One deals in good faith when one attempts, without guile or deception, to settle a controversy.)

Grace: A favor; dispensation; indulgence.

Grandchildrens Trust: An arrangement where property or money is transferred by a grandparent (grantor) to a person (trustee) for the benefit of the grantor's grandchildren (beneficiaries).

Grant: 1. A transfer of property by deed. 2. To give; to bestow. 3. A gift.

Grantee: The recipient of property from a grantor. For example, using a Quitclaim Deed, a grantor can transfer property ownership to a grantee.

Grantor: A person who sets up, and transfers property to, a trust.

Gross income: The total income of a person or business, prior to deducting expenses.

Gross negligence: 1. Failure to act where duty demands that one act. 2. Acting in such a manner that one ignores the safety of others. 3. Willful neglect.

Gross Revenue: Total receipts of a business.

Guarantee: An individual to whom a guarantee is made.

Guarantor: One who makes a guarantee.

Guaranty: 1. A statement by a producer that his product meets certain standards, and that if it proves to be defective, he will make restitution; a warranty. 2. To undertake the responsibility of paying someone's debt should he fail to pay it himself.

Guardian: A person who has been given the legal right and duty to take care of another individual and/or that individual's property. Guardianships are granted when a person does not have certain legal rights, such as a minor, to take care of himself and his affairs, or a mentally ill or debilitated person not being capable of managing himself and his affairs.

Guilty: The opposite of innocent; the verdict that is handed down when one has been convicted of a crime or offense; the plea of admission that a defendant may make, be it guilty of a parking violation or guilty of a murder.

Hanging: Suspending a person from the neck by a rope until dead; a common death penalty prior to the twentieth century.

Hazard: 1. A danger; a risk. 2. To wager; to risk.

Health Care Power of Attorney: A document in which a competent adult grants another person the authority to make Healthcare decisions for him or her.

Health insurance: An arrangement whereby an insurance carrier, in return for the payment of a specified premium, agrees to pay for part or all of the medical expenses incurred by the insured when he, or a member of his immediate family, is ill or has met with an accident.

Hearing: 1. The ability to hear; the auditory sense. 2. A procedure during which evidence is taken to determine an issue of fact and to come to a decision based on that evidence. A hearing may take place out of court, but it must be presided over by someone with judicial authority.

Heir: A person who inherits money or property, or who will naturally inherit property if someone dies without making a will.

Heirs-at-law: People who inherit money or property, or who will naturally inherit property if someone dies without making a will.

Held in trust: Property held by someone other than the owner, such as a trustee or an agent. Such trustee or agent is responsible to the owner and, for a fee, may manage the property and turn over to him any moneys earned by the property.

Herein: An adverb referring to a certain phrase, sentence, clause, paragraph, or page in a document.

Hoc: This (Latin).

Hold: 1. To possess, such as a title or a piece of property. 2. To judge, as a court holds someone to be innocent or guilty. 3. To be a tenant of another. 4. To hold in custody, such as a prisoner. 5. To administer. 6. To keep.

Hold harmless: An agreement in which one party agrees to protect the other party from liability for any damage that may occur in connection with a particular transaction, such as a lease.

Homestead: The house and land upon which a person or family makes their permanent residence. A personÃ?s homestead is generally exempt from debt collection (except by the lender who financed the homestead). The extent and definition of the homestead exemption varies by state.

Homicide: Murder; the killing of a human being by another human being. There are many types of homicide.

Honorable: A vague title of respect, given to various public officials, judges, etcetera, as the honorable justice.

Hospital records: Medical records of patients who are, or have been confined to a hospital. Such records belong to the hospital, but they can be subpoenaed and brought into court, if necessary.

House of Representatives: Legislative body of the United States government to which members are elected every two years from various congressional districts, such districts being determined by population. Various states also have legislative bodies known as houses of representatives.

Household goods: Items in a home of a permanent nature. This phrase often appears in a will.

Identical: Exactly the same.

Identification: Proof that a person, or a thing, is what it is represented to be.

Identity: The fact that a person or thing is the same as he or it is claimed to be.

Illegal: Contrary to law; unlawful.

Imperative: Commanding; something that must be done; mandatory.

Implication: Something that is assumed though not actually expressed. In a will, property may pass to an heir by implication without the heir being specifically named.

Implicit: Implied; not expressed; can be assumed based upon the surrounding circumstances of an event or agreement.

Implied: Intended, but not expressed in words. An implied agreement is one that the parties intend to implement but have not declared in a written document.

Impose: To tax; to levy; to place a burden upon someone, as in imposing a heavy fine.

Imprison: To place a person in jail; to restrain a person's liberty, against his will.

Improper: influence Bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone in order to get him/her to do something he/she would not ordinarily do.

Improvement: Anything that increases the value of property, such as installing air-conditioning in a building, etcetera.

In common: Something for the general use and enjoyment of all. The land, gardens, beaches, pools, etcetera, surrounding a condominium are in common, for the use of all tenant-owners.

In lieu of: Instead of.

In person: An individual who acts as his own attorney in a case is said to appear in person. In re: In the matter of; concerning (Latin).

In trust: The status of property given over and entrusted to someone to guard and take care of. Money or property of an estate is held in custody, or in trust, by a trustee until it is turned over to an heir.

In witness whereof: An expression making it clear that someone signing a legal document is signing as a witness.

Incapacitated: Unable to perform one's usual functions or duties, due to a physical or mental disability.

Inception: The beginning; the commencement, as the start of an agreement or contract.

Inchoate: Unfinished; incomplete, as an agreement that has not been put into final form. Inchoate lien. A lien that has not yet been put into effect, as a tax lien prior to the time when a tax assessment has been made.

Inchoate interest: Ownership of an unfinished and/or undetermined claim or agreement.

Incident: 1. Anything that is connected with or is dependent upon another thing or event. 2. An event, a happening.

Income: The amount someone earns from a salary or from a business or profession. Gross income includes all moneys earned before expenses and taxes; net income is that which is retained after payment of all expenses and taxes.

Incompetent: Incapable; inefficient; lacking the qualities necessary to discharge one's obligations and duties.

Inconsistent: Contradictory; contrary; repugnant.

Incorporate: To form a corporation. Each state has its own laws of incorporation.

Increment: An increase; a steady growth; an enlargement.

Incurred: To have brought upon oneself; to have happen to oneself, such as a person who incurred an injury.

Indemnification: An agreement to financially protect or reimburse a person if the protected person suffers loss arising out of defined circumstances.

Indemnify: To financially protect or reimburse a person if the protected person suffers loss arising out of defined circumstances.

Indemnity: Insurance against a possible loss; security with compensation for damages or loss.

Independent contractor: Someone who is engaged to do a job or perform an act but who maintains control over how the job or act is to be carried out. In medical jurisprudence, a surgeon who agrees to perform a certain operation is an independent contractor.

Individual liability: The liability of a person, as distinguished from the obligations of a partnership, company, or corporation.

Industriously: Hard working; to be diligent about a task.

Ineligible: Not qualified; legally disqualified from holding a public office or trust.

Inevitable accident: An accident that is unavoidable, such as an accident due to an act of god (floods, lightning, earthquakes, tornadoes, etcetera); an accident that could not have been prevented no matter what precautions one had taken.

Informed consent: Assent given only after all the facts have been fully explained. Before undergoing surgery a patient should have all the possibilities explained to him/her. Then, informed consent can be given, or withheld.

Infringement of trademark: Deceiving the public by copying, or devising an almost identical copy of, a trademark.

Inherit: To receive money and/or property from someone who has died. Some may inherit as a result of a specific bequest in a will, or as a consequence of being a member of the family of a person who died without leaving a will.

Injunction: A restraining order issued by a judge that a person or persons can or cannot do a particular thing. For example, a judge may order a labor union not to strike until a court hearing can be held. Injunctions may be temporary or permanent.

Injury: Harm done to a person's physical or mental well-being; harm to one's pride or reputation; harm to one's rights and privileges. Often the harm has resulted from the violation of one's legal rights by another.

Inscription: 1. The registration or recording of a deed, a mortgage, or other document in a public record or registry. 2. A writing on a substance of permanency such as stone or metal.

Insolvency: Inability to pay debts, either by an individual, a company, or a corporation; bankruptcy.

Insolvent: Being unable to meet one's obligations and liabilities.

Installment: A regular, periodic, partial payment of a debt. Goods bought on installment plans are usually paid for by regular monthly payments.

Institute: To start, such as to commence a lawsuit.

Instruct: To transmit information to another person or persons, as when a judge instructs a jury, or an attorney instructs his client.

Instrument: A written document, such as a deed, a mortgage, a negotiable security, a contract, a will, etcetera.

Insured: The person who is entitled to the protection under an insurance policy.

Intangible personal property: Property that has no value in and of itself but which represents value. Franchises, stocks, bonds, promissory notes, etc., all fall into this category.

Intellectual Property: Property rights in trademarks, copyrights or patents.

Intent: The purpose in carrying out a particular act, such as criminal intent; design; resolve.

Interest: 1. The right to use or benefit from property of any kind. 2. The cost of using borrowed money.

Interference: 1. A wrongful act by a person who prevents or disturbs another in the performance of his usual activities, or in the conduct of his business. 2. In patent law, a situation wherein two people claim the rights to the same invention or discovery.

Intermediate: Taking place during the middle of, or between the beginning and end of a lawsuit or other pending matter; intervening.

Interpretation: The explanation of the true meaning of a statement or written document; a translation.

Intervention: An act wherein a third person seeks to become a party to a suit between two other persons. He may wish to join the plaintiff in pressing a suit against a defendant or he may wish to join the defendant against the plaintiff.

Intestate: Dying without leaving a valid will.

Inure: 1. To become effective; to come to one's benefit. 2. To become accustomed to.

Invalid: 1. Not valid; illegal; void; having no effect. 2. A permanently incapacitated person.

Invention: The creation of something new. Original inventions can be patented under the provisions of the patent laws.

Inventor: Someone who creates something new.

Invest: To place money in a business venture in the hope of making more money; the giving of money in exchange for securities; to use money to make more money.

Invoice: A list of merchandise sent to a consignee or purchaser containing the identities of the items sent and their prices.

Involuntary: 1. Against the will; without consent. 2. Unintentional, as an involuntary twitch of a muscle or an involuntary movement during sleep.

Irrevocable: Unable to be canceled or nullified.

Issue: 1. To come forth; to put out; to put into circulation. 2. A point of law about which there is controversy. 3. A matter to be decided by a court. 4. Stocks, bonds, or other securities that are offered for sale to the public. 5. Descendants, such as children, grandchildren, etcetera. Itemize To record each item or article separately.

Joinder: Joining another person in a common suit; the acceptance by a party to an action of an issue tendered (formally presented).

Joint: Combined; united; coupled in a joint action (suit).

Joint living trust: A cancelable arrangement created by a married couple ("Grantors"), whereby the Grantors transfer property to a trustee to be held for the benefit of the Grantors while alive, then distributed to named beneficiaries.

Joint: Tenant An individual who owns real or personal property together with one or more people in equal shares, usually in an arrangement where, upon the death of one joint tenant, the surviving joint tenant(s) automatically owns the deceased personÆs share.

Judge: A public official, appointed or elected, authorized to hear and often to decide cases brought before a court of law.

Judgment: The decision of a court having the appropriate jurisdiction to have tried the case; the final determination of a case; a ruling of the court.

Judgment creditor: A person who has won his case against a debtor but who has not yet collected his debt.

Judgment debtor: A person who has lost his case to a creditor but has not yet paid his debt.

Judicial: Anything related to the administration of justice; anything that has to do with a court of justice.

Jurisdiction: The power and right to administer justice; the geographic area in which a judge or a court has the right to try and decide a case.

Jury: A specified number of men and/or women who are chosen and sworn to look into matters of fact and, therefore, to determine and render a decision upon the evidence presented to them. Juries may be of different sizes in various jurisdictions and in various categories. A grand jury may have anywhere from 12 to 24 jurors.

K: K is the short-hand abbreviation for contract.

Knowingly: In general, a person acts knowingly when they are reasonably certain a result will come from a specific action.

Label: 1. An addition to a written document or clause, such as a codicil. 2. A slip of paper attached to a deed so that a seal may be applied.

Labor: 1. To work; to toil. 2. The work force; employees.

Landlord: An owner of a house, apartment, or land, to whom a tenant pays rent. One who leases property; a lessor.

Language: A body of words which, when put together, offer a means of communication among people. There are many different languages, each used and understood by groups of people. Thus, there are languages of individual countries, or languages of different professions, such as the language of the law.

Last will and testament: The will that is valid and in force at the time of death.

Law: The rules, regulations, ordinances, and statutes, created by the legislative bodies of governments, under which people are expected to live. The law is interpreted by the courts; the facts are determined by juries. The laws of the land are the results of our moral thinking, the edicts of nature, and our experiences in living.

Legal right: Any privilege or right which, if challenged, would be supported in court.

Legatee: The recipient of a legacy; an individual who inherits something.

Legislation: 1. The making of laws by a legislative body, such as the senate, the house of representatives, the various state and municipal bodies, parliaments, etcetera. 2. In general terms, the product of any legislative body.

Legitimate: Real; bona fide; reasonable.

Lemon law: A law enacted to protect purchasers of new and/or used automobiles when the vehicle requires frequent repairs and does not operate properly. The purchaser is usually given the right to a refund if certain conditions are met.

Lender: An individual or entity from whom money or an item is borrowed.

Lessee: Someone who leases or rents something, such as an apartment or an automobile.

Lessor: The person who grants a lease to a lessee.

Let: 1. To rent or lease. 2. To award a contract to one of the bidders, as to let a contract.

Levy: 1. A tax; an assessment. 2. To tax; to assess; to collect upon; to impose, such as a fine.

Liability: Legal responsibility; the obligation to do or not to do something; an obligation to pay a debt; the responsibility to behave in a certain manner.

Liability Insurance: Insurance purchased to protect the insured against liability to third parties for injuries to their person or property. Liability insurance differs from property insurance which pays for damage to the insuredÆs own property.

Liable: Legal responsibility; the obligation to do or not do something; an obligation to pay a debt; the responsibility to behave in a certain manner.

License: 1. A right granted by one person (or company) to another giving permission to the other person to do something that he could not legally do without such permission. The person granting the right is the licensor; the one receiving the right is the licensee. 2. Unrestrained conduct, as the license to act in a certain manner.

Licensee: One who is granted a license.

Licensor: Someone who grants a license.

Lien: A claim on another's property.

Lieu: Instead of (French).

Life expectancy: The number of years that a person in relatively good health, and of a particular age, can expect to live, according to recognized mortality statistics. Life expectancy tables are published by many of the large life insurance companies and are statistically most reliable.

Limitation: A limit; a restriction; a specified period of time during which a litigation can take place and after that period, the statute of limitations has expired; a time limit.

Limited liability company (LLC): A relatively new form of business which combines the limited liability protection of the corporation with the flow-through tax advantages of the partnership.

Limited partners: Owners of a partnership who share in the profits and losses of the business, but who are not allowed to participate in the management of the business, and whose liability risk is limited to their investment in the partnership.

Limited partnership: A financial agreement under which a contributor to a partnership is liable, if the company should fail, only for the sum of money he invested. (Other partners in the same enterprise, however, may not be limited partners but are general partners and have much greater obligations and liabilities.)

Line of credit: The maximum amount of credit a bank or businessman will give to a customer.

Liquidated: Paid, settled; wound up, as a company that has gone out of business.

Liquidation: The conversion of an asset into cash.

Litigation: A lawsuit; a legal action; a suit.

Living trust: A trust that is in effect while the maker of the trust is still alive, as opposed to a trust set up by a will. Also known as an inter vivos trust.

Living Will: A document which authorizes a person's healthcare provider to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining procedures if the person has a terminal condition with no reasonable hope of survival.

Local law: Law whose application is limited to certain restricted areas, such as municipal ordinances.

Lockout: An employer's dismissal of employees because of a labor dispute, such lockout resulting in the closing of the plant.

Loss of use: In compensation law, the loss of use of an organ or part of the body such as a finger, hand, leg, etcetera. Such loss may be partial or total.

Lump sum payment: A one-time payment, as opposed to payments made in installments.

Majority: 1. The major portion of; more than one-half. 2. The age at which someone is legally regarded as an adult, and therefore able to consummate a contract, vote, and marry without parental consent.

Mandate: An order or command (oral or written) that must be obeyed; a judicial command directing enforcement of the court's decision.

Mandatory: Compulsory; something one must do; not a matter to be acted upon only if one wishes to; obligatory.

Margin: The actual amount of money one must pay toward the purchase of a stock when buying on margin. Such sum is only part of the total cost of the security, with the broker having the right to receive the balance should the value of the stock decline markedly.

Marital deduction: The amount of money a wife or husband can inherit without paying estate taxes. For federal tax purposes, such deduction is equal to no more than one-half of the gross estate.

Market price: The price at which a seller is willing to sell and a buyer is willing to buy.

Marriage: A contractual arrangement between a woman and man that they shall live together as wife and husband. The proof of such a union is usually certified by registering a marriage certificate in a public hall of records.

Matter: The subject of a legal dispute or lawsuit; the substance of the issues being litigated; the facts that go into the prosecution or defense of a claim.

Maturity: 1. The end of the time period agreed upon for a loan or obligation, after which time the loan or obligation is due and must be paid. 2. The attainment of adulthood. A child is said to reach maturity when he or she attains 18 or 21 years of age.

Maxim: Principles and rules generally recognized and accepted because they have been in use and have proved to be fair and reasonable over long periods of time.

Medallion Guaranteed: A method of authenticating the identiy of a person signing a document, similar to, but of a higher level than, a notary public

Medical records: Written material about the patient, including office and hospital charts, X rays, laboratory data, etcetera, detailing a patient's medical history and past and present illnesses. Medical records are the property of the physician or hospital, not the patient. However, medical records are subject to subpoena in cases involving medicolegal matters.

Meeting: The gathering together of a group of people to discuss matters in which they share common interest; an assembly; a convention.

Menace: To threaten harm.

Mental competence: A state in which one is in possession of one's mental faculties and capable of the usual normal ability to express oneself. A mentally competent person recognizes right from wrong, is well-oriented, and is able to stand trial or to serve as a witness.

Mental illness: A disorder of the mind, whether of physical or emotional origin.

Mental incompetence: The opposite of mental competence.

Minor: A male or female who is under the age of legal competency and rights, usually considered to be 21 years old but now frequently regarded as 18 years; a person too young to make a legal contract.

Minutes: A recording of what takes place during a trial, made by the court clerk, or the record of proceedings of a grand jury, etcetera.

Misconduct: Improper behavior; conduct that breaks a law or is contrary to established practice.

Misrepresentation: A statement that is untrue and not consistent with the facts. Misrepresentation may be innocent if a person thinks he is telling the truth; it is termed negligent misrepresentation if someone fails to find out the truth. Misrepresentation is fraudulent if there is intent to deceive and not tell the truth.

Mitigate: To lessen, as in reducing the punishment of a convicted person or decreasing the amount of damages a plaintiff may have been awarded. Also, to reduce the charges, such as from first-degree murder to manslaughter, because of extenuating circumstances.

Modification: A change or alteration in matters under discussion and at issue. Modification may take the form of addition or deletion of new elements in the involved issue, but it usually does not change the main thrust of the involved issue or matter under consideration.

Monetary: Referring to money; pecuniary.

Money order: An order for the payment of money, as issued by one post office or bank to another post office or bank. (A person in one city may obtain money from a bank or post office in another city if the bank or post office in the original city issues a money order.)

Moral: A principle for deciding what is right and what is wrong; virtuous; law abiding; adhering to society's concept of righteousness.

Mortgage: The putting up of land or a building, or both, as security against a loan of money. Should the person who obtains the mortgage fail to pay off the loan as prescribed in the mortgage contract, the lender will take title and possession to the property.

Motion: An oral or written application to a court or a judge for a ruling or order. In most instances, the motion requests a ruling to be made in favor of the one making the motion (the applicant).

Move: To move is to make a motion before a court, an application for a court to take a certain action.

Municipal: Pertaining to the local government of a city or town.

Mutual: Agreeable to both parties; reciprocal; carried out together; the exchanging of similar duties and obligations by two or more people.

Nation: A country; a body politic; a people united under the same government and laws; a country occupying a certain limited territory, over which it has independent control.

Native: A natural-born citizen; one who was born in the country of which he is a citizen.

Natural: Pertaining to nature and to the operation of natural law. (Natural law does not originate from enacted laws and statutes but from the inner instincts and desires of human beings.)

Natural Person: A human being, in contrast to an organization. (A corporation, partnership, etc. is a legal "person", but not a "natural person.")

Necessity: A situation in which one is forced to do something. Someone who has had no chance but to act in a certain unlawful manner may be excused from this behavior if necessity was the cause of carrying out the act.

Nee: A word added after a married woman's name, to indicate the name of her family before she was married. For example, Mrs. Mary Jones, nee Smith (French).

Negligence: Failure to do what a reasonable, careful, conscientious person is expected to do; doing something that a reasonable, careful conscientious person would not do.

Negotiate: Discussions leading to the conclusion of a business transaction or agreement. (Management and labor undergo negotiations in order to reach an agreement on labor contracts.)

Net income: Earnings after deducting all expenses from income. Income may be in the form of money from sales or services, from interest on investments, etcetera.

Net proceeds: Gross income, minus deductible expenses.

Net worth: The value of a company, or the amount of money an individual is worth, after subtracting all liabilities and obligations.

Next of kin: The closest relatives. The term is frequently used to describe the closest blood relations who will inherit property from a person who dies without making a will.

No-fault: A common type of divorce in which neither party presents evidence of wrongdoing. It's important to note that no-fault divorces are not necessarily uncontested, as uncontested divorce means that both spouses have agreed upon issues such as alimony and child custody.

Nominate: The act of proposing an individual for a position, office, or appointment.

Nonpayment: Failure to pay a debt, according to an agreement. Nonpayment may serve as the basis for a suit to recover.

Nonprofit: To engage in an activity without intent to make a profit.

Normal: Conforming to an accepted standard. In law, a normal person is a mentally competent person, able to defend himself and to act as a witness or member of a jury.

Notary public: A public official who is authorized to witness signatures on documents, to administer oaths, and to perform other tasks, such as attesting to the genuineness of various papers.

Notify: To give notice; to make facts and circumstances known to someone.

Nul: No; no one (Latin).

Oath: A pledge to tell the truth; a sworn promise to perform a duty; a calling on god to witness a statement.

Object: To disagree; to pose an objection; to protest. Attorneys in trials frequently object to testimony or procedures.

Obligated: Required by law or contract.

Obligation: Something a person is bound to do or bound not to do; a moral or legal duty. Penalties may be imposed upon people who fail in their obligations.

Obliterate: To cancel out or erase written material in a legal document.

Occupant: A tenant; a person who takes possession of property that belongs to no one.

Occupation: 1. A situation in which someone takes possession and control over land, such as when a country is victorious in war and takes over the defeated enemy's land. 2. A person's profession or line of business.

Occurrence: An event; an incident; something that takes place without prior planning.

Of record: Entered on the record; duly recorded.

Offer: An attempt to conclude an agreement through making specific proposals; a tender.

Office: 1. A place where business is transacted; a place where someone practices a profession. 2. A position held by an officer. (The presidential office is held by the President.)

Official: 1. An officer. 2. Pertaining to an office, such as the official duties of a mayor, a judge, a governor, etcetera.

Offset: A claim made by an opposing party in a suit, such offset tending to cancel out the original claim of the plaintiff; a counterclaim.

Ombudsman: A person appointed by a local, state, or federal government to hear complaints from private citizens against their governments (Swedish). Such complaints are frequently transmitted to the appropriate governmental authority.

Omission: Failure to act; failure to do something one should do; failure to perform what the law requires one to do.

On account: A part payment, as distinguished from payment in full; to be charged to one's credit.

On call: A debt payable whenever demanded; a debt to be paid immediately; on demand.

On demand: An existing debt, payable when requested by the creditor.

Open account: An account that has not been settled because continuing transactions are in progress or will take place in the future.

Operation of law: A term referring to the determination of rights and obligations merely through application of the existing laws covering a situation. As an example, if a person dies without having made a will, the heirs automatically inherit the property through the operation of law governing inheritance.

Opinion: 1. The reasons given for a court's judgment, frequently pointing out the law that governed the court's conclusions. 2. A belief; a judge's or court's reasoning in a particular matter.

Oral contract: A spoken contract; a written contract that. Is incomplete but has been completed by oral (spoken) agreements.

Ordinance: A local law; a law passed by a legislative body of a city or township or other local government; a statute; a rule.

Ordinary: Usual; normal, as opposed to extraordinary.

Organize: 1. To establish; to make something functional. 2. To form a union out of unorganized, nonunion working people.

Out-of-pocket expenses: Money that one must pay to defray expenses while carrying out the usual duties and obligations in the performance of a job.

Overdue: Past due; unpaid.

Owing: An unpaid debt; an obligation that is due; due; unpaid.

Owner: A person who has the legal title to property; a proprietor.

Pact: A contract; an agreement; a treaty; a covenant.

Panel: A list of potential jurors who might serve in a particular trial; the members of a commission.

Paper: A legal document; an instrument; a written statement or memorandum.

Par: Equal; average; normal.

Par value: An arbitrary minimum price at which each share of corporate stock can initially be sold by a corporation.

Pass: 1. To pronounce or declare, such as to pass judgment or to pass sentence. 2. To be approved, such as a tax declaration that is passed by the revenue authorities.

Past due: Overdue, such as a payment of an obligation or debt.

Patent: 1. The right of monopoly over the manufacture, sale, and use of a device or process that one has discovered or invented, such patent being granted by law or statute. 2. A grant of mineral rights to public land. 3. As an adjective, patent means obvious or evident. Payable: Due; a legally enforceable debt.

Payee: The person to whom a bill is to be paid.

Payoff: The time for a settlement of a debt; a reckoning.

Peculation: The unlawful taking over of government property or funds for personal use by an individual who has had such property or funds entrusted to his care.

Pending: Not yet decided; often used to refer to a suit that has been started but not yet finished.

Pension: A sum of money paid periodically to a retired employee, with such funds derived from accumulated contributions made over the years by the employee and employer, or by the employer alone.

People: The citizens; the state; the nation; the constituted government. A criminal prosecution is stated as the people against ________, meaning that all the people are prosecuting an alleged perpetrator of a crime.

Per annum: By the year. Interest due per annum means interest due each year (Latin).

Per se: By itself (Latin); taken alone; simply stated.

Percentage: A portion of 100.

Performance: The fulfillment of a contract or agreement, thus terminating an obligation.

Perjury: False testimony; the telling of an untruth when acting as a witness in a court proceeding; the making of a false statement in an affidavit; the willful swearing to a falsehood in a matter before a court. Perjury occurs when someone has taken an oath to tell the truth and then knowingly tells an untruth; lying under oath. Perjury is punishable by severe fines and/or imprisonment. Permission: Legal consent to perform an act, without which consent, the act would be illegal; the license to do something; sufferance.

Permit: 1. A license; a permission given in writing. 2. To tolerate; to license; to grant permission.

Personal injury: 1. Damage (injury) to the body. 2. A personal wrong or violation of a personal right. Such personal injury is frequently the basis for lawsuit against the wrongdoer. Personal injury is not limited to physical body harm.

Personal liability: The obligation to pay business-related debts from an owner's personal, non-business assets.

Personal property: All property, except real estate, that can be owned; includes money, jewelry, vehicles, stocks, copyrights, etc.

Pertain: To relate to; to belong to.

Pertinent: Relevant; directed toward the issue being discussed; apropos; related; germane.

Petition: A written, formal request for a particular thing to be done or a certain act to be carried out. In equity proceedings, a petition is in actuality a complaint.

Plaint: A complaint; the presentation of a plaintiff's claim in a lawsuit.

Plaintiff: The party who is bringing a lawsuit against a defendant; the person or persons who are suing.

Plan: 1. A procedure designed to reorganize a company so as to pay off debtors and to continue the operations of a business, such a plan taking place in a bankruptcy proceeding. 2. A sketch or outline of something to be done.

Plea: The response by one who is accused of a crime; the answer the law requires of a defendant who is accused.

Pledge: The granting of physical possession of goods or personal property to a person to whom one owes a debt. The creditor holds such property as security until the debt is paid.

Policy: 1. A course of action to be followed or avoided. 2. The programs and aims of a government in caring for its people. 3. A document issued by an insurance company.

Political: Pertaining to government; pertaining to the establishment of policies for governing a community, state, or nation.

Poll: To question each juror to hear whether he agrees with the verdict.

Pool: An association of merchants who jointly buy or sell a certain commodity or commodities.

Portion: 1. A share; a part. 2. The part of a parent's estate that is given to a child.

Positive evidence: 1. Eyewitness testimony 2. Testimony by a witness that he has himself seen or heard something take place.

Post-mortem: An autopsy; an examination of a dead body carried out to determine the cause of death. In Latin, post mortem means after death.

Postpone: To delay; to put off to a later date; to defer.

Potential: Possible, as distinguished from actual; capable of coming into being; a latent possibility, such as a person who has great potential to become successful but has not presently achieved success.

Pour-over will: A specialized will that simply "pours over" the testator's remaining assets into the testator's Living Trust or Joint Living Trust.

Power: The authority and ability to do something; the right and capability of carrying out some act; the right of jurisdiction.

Power of attorney: 1. A written document stating that one appoints another to act in his behalf as an agent, giving him the authority to carry out certain specified acts. 2. A written document giving an attorney the authority to appear in court on someone's behalf.

Powers: The authority and ability to do something; the right and capability of carrying out some act; the right of jurisdiction.

Practicable: Something that can be accomplished; feasible; workable.

Practice: 1. The way things are usually done; custom; habit. 2. A method of proceeding in courts for the enforcement of rights or the correction of wrongs. 3. A continuing occupation, such as the practice of law or the practice of medicine.

Prayer: A request, such as is usually contained in a complaint asking for relief occasioned by a wrong committed by the defendant.

Precaution: Measure taken in advance, in order to avoid a mishap or to produce a good result; foresight; prevention or preventive measures.

Precedence: The right to precede or to go before; to take precedence means the privilege of going ahead of, rather than after; to consider first.

Preclude: 1. To make impossible; to stop; to prevent. 2. To exclude; to rule out.

Predecease: To die before another person dies.

Predecessor: A person who precedes, or goes before, another person. (President Ford was President Carter's predecessor in office.)

Preferred stock: A type of stock that gives the shareholder greater rights to dividends or other benefits than those rights held by common shareholders.

Premarital agreement: An agreement made between a man and woman prior to their marriage. It often includes provisions for the disposal of property should separation, divorce, or death ensue; an antenuptial settlement; a prenuptial agreement; an antenuptial contract.

Premises: 1. The basis or bases for an argument presented to a court; the real substance of a lawsuit; the introductory proposition that should lead to a conclusion. 2. Property.

Premium: The amount paid for insurance coverage.

Prescription: 1. A means of acquiring a right through continued possession and use over a prolonged period of time. As an example, a person who has used a right of way across another person's land for the past ten to twenty years may be said to have become entitled to that right of way through prescription. 2. A written order by a physician, given to a patient for presentation to a pharmacist. Such prescription orders a medication or medications that the pharmacist will prepare and contains information on dosages and use.

Presence of the testator: A signing of a will within the sight of the testator. This implies that witnesses are present and that the testator is conscious and knows what he is signing.

Present: 1. Being at a certain place at a certain time. 2. To lay a motion or case before a court for consideration and action.

Preservation: The act of keeping something in good condition and safeguarding it from damage or harm; the act of preserving.

President: The chief executive officer of the United States; a presiding or managing officer of a legislative body, business, organization, committee, etcetera.

Presume: To believe; to accept as true, even before conclusive evidence has been presented; to assume.

Pretenses: Acts of pretending or making believe; a false pretense is a calculated, thought-out misrepresentation of facts.

Previous question: A parliamentary procedure carried out to end debate and cause a question to be voted upon immediately. As an example, someone moves the previous question. If the legislative body approves such a motion, then the issue must be voted without further debate.

Primary: 1. Chief; first; principal. 2. A convention, meeting, or voting of voters to select a candidate who will represent their political party.

Primary Beneficiary: Person who is the first choice to receive a gift. If the primary beneficiary is dead, the gift goes to an alternate beneficiary.

Principal: 1. An amount of debt or loan, excluding any accumulated interest. 2. Primary, most important, main. 3. In a Principal-Agent relationship, the Principal authorizes the Agent to act for the Principal.

Principle: A doctrine; a fundamental belief; a clear truth, universally accepted, such as the principle of law that one should be punished for committing a crime.

Priority: The right to take precedence over another; the state of being ahead in time, therefore, having priority; a legal preference.

Privilege: A benefit or right enjoyed by an individual, a group of people, a company, etcetera, not enjoyed by others; special dispensation; an exemption from the performance of some act that others are required to perform; an immunity.

Probability: Likelihood; something that may be true or may have happened has a probability of truth or fact. Probability may be great or small.

Probable consequences: Those results or consequences that have a good likelihood of taking place following a particular act or event; outcomes that a reasonable person could have foreseen.

Probate: The legal process of recording a WILL in the appropriate place, generally a probate court, and proving that it is valid.

Proceeding: 1. The presentation and prosecution of a lawsuit before a court. 2. A case in court.

Process server: A person who hands a summons or subpoena upon a witness or defendant.

Produce: 1. To exhibit; to show; to place before one's view, as the promise of attorney to produce a particular witness in court.

Profess: To declare publicly; to acknowledge openly.

Profit sharing: An arrangement in a company or corporation whereby employees and officers share in the profits of the business. Such profit sharing usually constitutes only part of the pay the employees receive for their work.

Prognosis: The probability of recovery from an illness.

Prohibit: To prevent or forbid by legal means.

Promise: A statement that binds a person to do something. A promise may be a matter of law, of conscience, or of honor; it may be written or verbal.

Promissory note: A written document stating that a certain debt will be paid at a specified time or within a specified period of time. The note will bear the signature of the debtor and will state to whom and when the money will be paid.

Proof: The establishment of truth through evidence; the effect of evidence; a conviction of the mind that a certain fact in issue has been established as true.

Property: 1. Anything that can be owned, such as land, buildings, stocks, securities, jewelry, money, patents, copyrights, various rights, etcetera. 2. The legal right to ownership of a thing or things.

Proposal: 1. A suggestion put forth for the purpose of obtaining acceptance. 2. A measure put before a legislative body. 3. An offer.

Proprietary: Ownership of a thing by a particular person; an exclusive claim to the rights of ownership of an item.

Proprietary Information: Information that the owner has a right to protect.

Proprietary rights: Rights and privileges of an owner of property.

Prosecute: To proceed and to maintain a legal action, such as a prosecuting attorney who tries in court to prove an accused person to be guilty; to attempt to enforce by legal action.

Prosecution: Following an established procedural process.

Protest: 1. Dissent; disapproval; a written statement, by someone making a payment, that he thinks the payment is illegal, exorbitant, unwarranted, etc. , thus reserving the right to get the money back. 2. An objection to a legal rule or judgment.

Protocol: 1. Accepted methods of procedure among diplomats, heads of state, etcetera; ceremonial rules and procedures. 2. A rough draft of an agreement or contract, or of a treaty between nations.

Provided by law: A phrase denoting that something has been prescribed (provided for) by an existing statute (law).

Proxies: 1. An individual authorized to act for another. A Proxy acts as a substitute or a representative. A Proxy can be authorized to vote for a shareholder of a corporation. In some states, a Proxy can be authorized to make health care decisions for another. 2. The document which authorizes an individual to act for another.

Proximate: Direct, as opposed to indirect; immediate, as opposed to delayed.

Proxy: 1. An individual authorized to act for another. A Proxy acts as a substitute or a representative. A Proxy can be authorized to vote for a shareholder of a corporation. In some states, a Proxy can be authorized to make health care decisions for another. 2. The document which authorizes an individual to act for another.

Psychiatrist: A physician who specializes in and treats disorders of the mind and mental disease.

Public: 1. Belonging to an entire community, whether it is a town, city, county, state, or nation. 2. The citizens of a town, city, county, state, or country. 3. The body politic. 4. Owned by a government, as distinguished from something that is privately owned.

Publish: To let it be known to the public; to print for general circulation; to give publicity to; to print a manuscript.

Punitive damages: An award to a plaintiff beyond actual possible loss. Such damages are by way of punishing the defendant for his act.

Purport: To imply; to claim; to mean; to convey law; the full scope of an enacted statute.

Pursuant to: Conforming to; done in consequence of; following; according to.

Pursue: To follow through, as to pursue a claim until it is finally established; to continue actively a cause of action until its final conclusion.

Quittance: Exoneration; a release.

Quorum: A majority; the number of people who must be present to permit an organization, a group, a body, etcetera, to conduct its business and reach valid decisions.

Quota: 1. The proportional part of a whole that is owned to a person, or to a group of people or to a particular district or state. 2. The limited number of people that are permitted to emigrate to this country from various foreign countries. Each country has its own number, or quota, allotted to it.

Ratify: Confirm, republish, redeclare. To approve, to confirm, to reconfirm. A legal expression denoting absolute ratification.

Ratio: Proportion; the relation between two numbers of the same kind; the relation that exists by dividing one quantity by another.

Real property: Land; immovable property on land, such as a building, an apartment house, etcetera.

Recall: 1. To call back, as a witness is recalled to the witness stand.

Receiver: A disinterested outside individual appointed by a court to manage and administer property or money that is in dispute in a lawsuit. Often when an apartment building or a hotel goes into bankruptcy, the court will appoint a receiver to manage the building until the bankruptcy proceeding has been concluded and the creditors have been paid. The receiver is responsible to the court for the administration.

Record: A written document attesting to an event, a transaction, agreement. Contract, act, etcetera, drawn up under the authority of the law. A record is permanent evidence that some event, transaction, agreement, contract, act, etcetera, has taken place legally. Recordation of verdict. The reception by the court clerk of the jury's verdict, thus ending the trial. Such verdict will be placed by the clerk in the court records.

Recourse: 1. The seeking of assistance and help. 2. The right of a person to get his just due by taking legal actions toward that end.

Redemption: The act of redeeming; turning in something, such as a bond, for cash.

Reference: 1. The act of sending a matter to a referee for his consideration and decision. 2. An agreement between two parties to place their dispute before an arbitrator or referee for his consideration and decision.

Refusal: 1. The denial of a demand or a request. 2. A negative response to comply with an order of a court.

Register: 1. To record something formally.

Registered: To be officially recorded or listed.

Registered agent: The designated corporate contact person in a given state.

Registration: To be officially recorded or listed.

Regulation: A rule for controlling public affairs, such as a law, a statute, or an ordinance; a governing principle.

Reimburse: To pay back; to restore moneys that have been taken.

Release: 1. To give up a right or claim; to relinquish. 2. A discharge from duty or obligation.

Relief: 1. An award of damages; the receiving of a favorable judgment; the winning of a lawsuit; a decree of a court granting the plaintiff part or all of his claim or claims against a defendant.

Relinquish: To abandon; to give up; to renounce a claim or right.

Remainder: 1. The rest; the portion remaining after a part has been taken away; the residue. 2. The portion of an estate or property which is to be distributed after other portions have been disposed of. 3. An estate to take effect and be enjoyed after another estate has been determined.

Remaining assets: Trust assets that remain after paying debts and expenses of the trust and making the specific distributions as specified in the trust.

Remedies: The means employed by the law to correct injuries or to enforce legal rights.

Remission: A pardon; a release from a debt or obligation; an exoneration; the act of remittance (payment).

Removal: A change in residence; the depriving of one's position, such as taking one's job away, the transfer of a thing or person from one place to another.

Remuneration: Payment for services rendered; salary; reward; recompense.

Render: To perform, such as to render a service; to deliver; to yield; to give up.

Renewal: The giving of more time for the payment of a debt or the fulfillment of an obligation; the revival or reestablishment of an issue that is in dispute.

Rent: 1. To pay for the temporary use of a property, such as the renting of an apartment or an automobile. 2. Moneys paid in exchange for the use of property.

Reorganization: The process of planning anew and of making changes, frequently referring to the reorganization of a corporation that is in financial trouble so as to make it into a profitable business.

Reparation: The act of making amends for an injury or for damages that have been committed; the making good of a wrong.

Repeal: The annulment of an existing statute or law; to revoke a law and to substitute a new one in its place.

Reply: A replication; the plaintiff's answer to the defense by the defendant of charges he has leveled against him.

Represent: 1. To make an appearance in place of another, such as attorney who appears in behalf of his client. 2. To state as factual.

Representative: A person given the authority to act on another's behalf, such as a trustee, an executor, an officer of a company, an elected member of a legislative body, etc.

Residuary assets: What is left in an estate or trust after paying debts, expenses and specific bequests and distributions.

Residuary estate: The remaining assets of an estate after payment of debts, expenses, and specific bequests.

Resignation: The formal notification of giving up one's office.

Resolution: Written documentation of the formal approval of certain action by a corporation.

Retirement: 1. The voluntary fulfillment of an obligation or payment of a debt. 2. The giving up of one's work, position, or professional activities.

Return: 1. The act of an officer of the court, such as a sheriff, in bringing back to the court the process (summons, subpoena, etcetera) that he was ordered to serve, along with a report of his activities. 2. A written report of one's earnings, expenses, etcetera, as recorded in a tax return. 3. The amount of interest or profit one earns from an investment of money. 4. To give back; to bring back; to place in the custody of.

Revenue: Sales; gross receipts of a business before deducting expenses.

Revocable: The voiding, annulling or revoking of a thing.

Revocable Living Trust: A trust established while the maker (grantor) is still alive and which can be changed or cancelled by the grantor.

Revocable Trust: A cancelable arrangement created by a person ("Grantor"), whereby the Grantor transfers property to a trustee to be held for the benefit of the Grantor while alive, then distributed to named beneficiaries.

Revocation: The voiding, annulling or revoking of a thing.

Revoke: The voiding, annulling or revoking of a thing.

Right of first refusal: The priority right to purchase property simply by meeting a competing offer.

Right of representation: Per stirpes. The method of determining how a gift will be distributed, especially if a beneficiary is dead, namely, in equal shares to the deceased beneficiary's surviving children, with the share of a deceased child distributed, in turn, in equal shares to that deceased child's children, etcetera.

Risk: The possibility of loss or harm.

Roll: 1. A record of court or other official proceedings. 2. A list of taxable properties or persons.

Royalty: 1. A payment to an author by a publisher, usually based upon a percentage of the retail price at which a book is sold. 2. A payment made by a person or company who leases oil, mineral, or natural gas rights to the owner of the land above the oil, gas, or minerals.

Rule: 1. A regulation, ordinance, or principle set up by an authority, such as a local, state, or federal government. 2. A regulation or order of a court concerning the manner in which its business shall be conducted.

Sane: The state of having mental competence and soundness of mind; knowing right from wrong, being capable of intelligent reasoning, and generally acting in a normal, socially acceptable manner. The opposite of insane or mentally incompetent.

Satisfaction: 1. The payment of a debt; the fulfillment of an obligation, such as the payment of a mortgage or, the completion of one's obligations under a contract. 2. The act of satisfying.

Satisfactory evidence: Valid, believable, credible, pertinent testimony; evidence of such a nature to convince the court of its truth; convincing proof.

Satisfy: To fulfill a request; to pay off a debt; to discharge an obligation.

Schedule: 1. An inventory; a list, such as a list of all assets and liabilities of a person or company that is filing for bankruptcy. 2. To prepare a timetable for the carrying out of particular acts; to prepare a list or inventory.

Scope of authority: The powers of an agent given to him by the principal, including not only the authority specifically designated but implied or inferred authority, too. In such instances in which there is doubt, the agent may claim that the scope of his authority to act for and in his principal's behalf is greater than that which is written down and recorded.

Scrip: 1. A certificate indicating the right of the holder to receive payment in the future in the form of money, land, or goods. 2. Paper currency.

Secret: Something not made known to other people or to the public; hidden; completely confidential; concealed.

Secured creditor: A creditor with collateral; a person owed money who has the right to take and sell specific property of the debtor if the debt is not paid.

Security: 1. Property that has been pledged by a lien or mortgage, thus guaranteeing that the creditor will be paid if the debtor defaults. Security makes the promise to pay more than a personal obligation. 2. A stock or bond that signifies that the borrower (the Corporation) owes a specified amount of money to the stock or bond holder. 3. Measures to protect people against attack, robbery, danger, etcetera.

Security Deposit: Money paid to a landlord at the beginning of a lease to ensure the tenantÆs compliance with the terms of the lease. The money is held in trust by the landlord and may be used to cover costs resulting from any breach of the lease terms by the tenant, including damage to the property. If there are no such breaches, the money is refundable to the tenant at the end of the lease term.

Segregation: The act of separating, such as segregating the races in a school. Segregation of races in public places of all kinds is illegal in the United States and violates federal laws.

Seizure: To take forcible possession of a thing; to arrest and take a prisoner into custody.

Seller's Quotation: Prior correspondence, offer, bid, or general advertisement on which the buyer has relied or accepted.

Senate: The upper chamber of the Congress of the United States, numbering two selected representatives from each state. At present there are one hundred senators.

Senator: A member of the U. S. Senate, or of a state senate. There are two senators elected from each state to the U. S. Senate. States each have their own rules concerning the election of state senators. U.S. senators serve for a term of six years.

Separate maintenance: Money paid by a married person for the support of a spouse from whom one is separated.

Separate property: Property owned and controlled by a married person, the spouse having no rights concerning it at all. The owner of such property can dispose of it at will, without the consent of the spouse.

Separation: The living apart of a husband and wife. If such a separation is ordered by a court, it is a legal separation, in which event the details of support and maintenance are often spelled out specifically in a document issued by the court.

Service of process: The delivery of a summons, subpoena, writ, or other legal document to the opposing party in a lawsuit.

Session: The period during any one day, or periods of days, during which a court, tribunal, legislative body, etcetera, conducts its business. When such a body is in session, it means that it is not on vacation or has not terminated its usual period during which it conducts its business.

Set aside: To cancel, to annul; to revoke. The expression is used frequently when a higher court overrules a decision or judgment of a lower court, or when an indictment is dropped. Settle: To agree to a settlement of a dispute; the coming together of opposing parties in a lawsuit to resolve a difference.

Severable: The quality of being able to exist independently. A severable law is one that continues to hold even if one clause or provision is held not to be valid.

Severance: 1. The act of separating and dividing. 2. When there are two or more defendants in the same case, one may wish to defend himself alone and not join with the others. This is termed severance.

Shareholder: A stockholder; an individual who owns a share in a corporate enterprise or in a business.

Sheriff: A law officer whose duties include the keeping of the peace, the serving of summonses, subpoenas, and other legal documents, the calling of jurors and the carrying out of judgments issued by the courts. Sheriffs serve one county, to which their authority is limited.

Signature: One's name, written in one's own handwriting. A signature at the end of a legal document attests to its authenticity and validity.

Silent partner: A partner not generally known as a co-owner of a firm or business, yet is entitled to the rights of partnership; a dormant partner; a secret partner.

Simultaneous: Occurring at the same time or instant, such as simultaneous deaths. Single: One only; unattached; standing alone; unmarried; individual.

Singular: 1. One only; individual; each; unique. 2. The opposite of plural.

Site: A location; a place where an event took place; land upon which one intends to build. Small claims court: Courts set up for the express purpose of settling small claims. Decisions in such litigations are made by a judge within a short period of time, thereby avoiding a prolonged trial.

Social Security Act: A federal law providing for the establishment of universal federal and state insurance benefits, unemployment insurance, and other benefits for citizens who are in their later years.

Society: A body of people living as members of a community, all subject to the same laws and regulations.

Sole: Exclusive; only one; single.

Sole proprietorship: An unincorporated business owned entirely by one person, who is also solely responsible for all of its debts.

Solicit: 1. To seek, to plead; to entreat; to implore; to ask for.

Solvency: Having sufficient funds so as to pay one's debts; the opposite of insolvency.

Sound: 1. Free from defect; financially strong and secure; competent; healthy; able to function satisfactorily, such as a person who is sound of mind or has sound judgment. 2. A noise.

Source of income: The origin of income. The Internal Revenue Service frequently inquires into how and where a person came by certain income or moneys.

Speaker: The presiding officer of the House of Representatives. Other legislative bodies, such as state legislatures, may also have speakers.

Special Power of Attorney: A document in which a person authorizes another person or organization to act on his or her behalf in specific situations.

Specific bequest: A gift of cash, a specific item, or a category of items, to a named person, as detailed in a will. For example, a wedding ring, $1000, or a car.

Specific distribution: A gift of cash, a specific item, or a category of items, to a named person, as detailed in a trust before the bulk of the trust is distributed. For example, a wedding ring, $1000, or a car.

Specific intent: Premeditated, conscious intention to perform a certain act. The term is used frequently to describe the intentions of a person to carry out a particular crime or prohibited act.

Specification: A detailed statement listing the various points that will be brought up in a forthcoming lawsuit or litigation.

Specimen: A sample; a part of something, displaying what the whole looks like.

Spouse: A person's wife or husband.

Stand: 1. The place where a witness sits (or stands) to give testimony. 2. To remain in force; to appear in court; to stay unchanged.

Status: The relation of an individual to the community in which he resides; rank; position; a position in regard to family relationships, such as married, divorced, etcetera.

Statute: A law passed by the legislative branch of a government.

Statute of limitations: A law establishing a specified period of time during which a litigation (lawsuit) can take place, after that period, the suit can no longer be brought.

Statutes: A law passed by the legislative branch of a government.

Statutory: Created by the enactment of a law, relating to a statute or law; existing as the result of a statute.

Stay: 1. A postponement; a moratorium. 2. To stop or halt, usually temporarily, a legal proceeding.

Stepchild: A child of one's wife or husband by a former marriage.

Stock broker: A person who buys and sells stocks for his clients.

Stockholder: Someone who owns shares in a stock corporation. He is not responsible, merely by owning stock, for the actions of the corporate entity.

Strike: 1. To strike a word or passage, means to delete it. 2. A work stoppage by employees for the purpose of obtaining better wages, working conditions, or fringe benefits from an employer.

Sub-chapter S: An Internal Revenue Service election made by a qualifying corporation, to be taxed similar to that of a partnership or sole proprietorship.

Subcontract: An agreement between a contractor and a third party to perform certain duties that the contractor has been hired to perform. As an example, a contractor, hired to build a building, may engage a subcontractor to dig the site and put in the foundation for the building.

Subject matter: The matter in dispute; the material over which there is litigation.

Subject to: Governed by; subordinate to; provided that; contingent upon.

Subjection: The obligation of an individual to behave or act according to the will or judgment of another individual.

Sublease: The privilege of a person who has leased a premise to lease it to another person. In leases, the privilege to sublease must be stated specifically or the lessee will not be permitted to sublease.

Subordination: A lien or claim that is weaker than another lien or claim, and admittedly will be honored only after the stronger lien or claim has been satisfied.

Subpoena: A document ordering an individual to appear in court and give testimony. Failure to appear, without good reason, may lead to the imposing of a penalty.

Subrogation: 1. The act of substituting a claim against one person for a claim against another person. 2. The substitution of one individual for another in claiming a debt or right.

Subscribe: Agree to the content of a document by signing it.

Subscribing witness: A person who sees a document signed and affixes his name to the document, thus testifying in writing that the event has taken place.

Subsequent: An event that takes place afterward; succeeding; happening at a later time or date.

Substance: The true, basic meaning of something; the real thing, as opposed to something imaginary or unrealistic.

Substitute: One who takes the place of another who is unable or unwilling to continue to fill a particular role or office.

Substitution: Subrogation. The putting of one person or one thing in place of another.

Succession: 1. The act of following another, or succeeding to the rights of another. 2. The acquiring of property after the former owner dies and leaves it to a successor.

Successor: One who succeeds or follows another in a particular role or office.

Sue: To start a civil suit.

Suit: A lawsuit; a litigation; an action; a civil, rather than a criminal proceeding; a proceeding taking place in a court of law where one person or persons takes action against another person or persons.

Summary: Immediate; brief; concise.

Superior court: A higher court than an inferior court, but one which has less authority than an appeals court. The exact status of a superior court differs from state to state.

Supersede: To replace; to annul; to take the place of; to render void; to set aside.

Support: 1. The supplying of a means of livelihood; subsistence, including a home, food to eat, and money for everyday necessities. 2. The obligation to provide for one's family.

Suppress: To prohibit or to forbid; to put an end to something that already exists; to keep evidence from being presented by showing it to be irrelevant or gathered illegally.

Supreme

Court: 1. A high court, in some states, the highest court; in other states the state supreme court is inferior to the court of appeals. 2. The United States Supreme Court is the highest in the land.

Surrender: The giving up of something; to yield; to return.

Surrogate: One who acts for another. In some states, an individual can designate a Surrogate to make health care decisions in a power of attorney document. The judge presiding over probate matters is called a Surrogate in some states.

Survive: To outlive another person.

Survivor: A person who outlives another. (The term is often used in wills to designate what shall transpire when a particular legatee survives, or fails to survive, another legatee.)

Sworn: Having taken an oath; verified; attested to as being true.

Tangible personal property: All property, except land and buildings, that can be physically touched, such as furniture, jewelry, cars and clothing. Property such as stocks and bank accounts are not included because what can be touched in connection with these items is merely a piece of paper that represents the actual property. In summary of all property types, "real property" is land and buildings; "personal property" is everything else; "tangible personal property" is an item that can be touched.

Temporary custody: The awarding of custody of a child to a parent temporarily, pending the outcome of a separation or divorce suit.

Tenancy in common: The possession of property by two or more people wherein each party possesses an undivided interest in the entire property. This is different from a situation in which each party owns a designated portion of the property, such as land.

Tenant: A person who has leased or rented an apartment, home, land, or other property.

Tenant in Common: An individual who owns an undivided interest in real or personal property with one or more people, with no right of survivorship.

Terminate: Come to an end.

Terminated: Ended; canceled; concluded

Testament: A will disposing of property of a deceased person.

Testate: A person who dies leaving a will; the opposite of intestate.

Testator: Someone who has made or is making a will (testament).

Teste: To bear witness; a declaration at the conclusion of a court order (writ) bearing witness to the official character of the document (Latin).

Testify: To give evidence as a witness, under oath. False testimony, given under oath, is a serious offense known as perjury.

Testimony: Evidence given under oath by a witness, as distinguished from evidence derived from written documents.

Third party: 1. Someone who is not directly connected with a contract, a deal, a lawsuit, an occurrence, etcetera, but who may be affected by its outcome. 2. Persons other than the plaintiff or defendant who are brought into a case.

Threat: A statement of intention to harm, intimidate, or injure another by carrying out some unlawful act. If the statement of intention is not through the carrying out of an unlawful act, then it is not considered legally as a threat. As an example, a creditor may threaten to sue a debtor in court, this being a legal right; it is not considered a threat.

Time of the essence: Means that the performance of a term or condition of the contract in the time period specified is important, and that the failure to perform on time will lead to a breach of the contract. Title: 1. The right of ownership of property; the just possession of one's own property. 2. The word or name by which someone or something is known. 3. The name for a portion of a statute. 4. The name of an action in court or of a petition, consisting of the names of the involved parties, and other pertinent data.

To take title: To gain and hold possession of property legally.

To wit: Namely; that is to say.

Toll: 1. To postpone the effect of a statute of limitations, thus permitting a legal action to be undertaken after a longer than normal period of time. 2. A fee paid for use of a bridge, tunnel, etcetera.

Tort: A wrong committed by one person against another; a civil not a criminal wrong; a wrong not arising out of a contract; a violation of a legal duty that one person has toward another. (Negligence and libel are torts.) Every tort is composed of a legal obligation, a breach of that obligation, and damage as the result of the breach of the obligation.

Total disability: Complete inability to work or to carry out any of the duties of one's job or profession, even though one's body may not be totally disabled. A person who has been blinded is totally disabled if he is engaged in riveting or other kinds of work requiring him to function high up on the steelworks of a construction job.

Total loss: 1. The complete loss of property, as in an explosion that has totally demolished a building. 2. In medicine, the complete loss of a part of the body, such as in amputation.

Trade secret: A process or compound known only to its owner and manufacturer, although the process or compound is not patented.

Trademark: A name, marking, sign, or motto that a company can, by law, use exclusively in identifying and selling its product.

Transaction: The act of conducting business; a deal; in a broad sense, a contract; something which takes place or has taken place; a dealing between two or more parties.

Transactions: The act of conducting business; a deal; in a broad sense, a contract; something which takes place or has taken place; a dealing between two or more parties.

Transfer tax: A levy upon the passing of property from the estate of a deceased person to an heir.

Traveler's check: In actuality, a cashier's check of the issuing bank. Upon its issue, the person receiving the check signs it; when he cashes it, he signs it again in the presence of the person who will cash it or give merchandise in exchange for it. Traveler's checks are particularly valuable as they are not negotiable when lost. The person obtaining traveler's checks from his bank usually pays a small fee to the issuing bank for the service.

Trial: A proceeding in a court to decide a controversy. A trial may be for a civil action or criminal action.

Tried: Having had a trial in court.

Trover: 1. A suit to regain property that was lost, the suit being against the person who found and has held on to the property. 2. A suit for damages against a person who found property and wrongfully converted it to his own use.

Trust: An arrangement created by one person (the "grantor") where assets of the grantor are transferred to another person (the "trustee") to be held for the benefit of a third person (the "beneficiary"). The grantor may also be the trustee and/or the beneficiary of the trust. Trustee: A person who holds, manages, and distributes property for the benefit of another; a fiduciary.

Uncontested: A type of divorce where both spouses have agreed on terms, such as alimony payments and child custody. Uncontested divorces are often the least expensive.

Understood: Agreed; an understanding; assented to.

Undertake: To guarantee; to set about to do; to engage in; to promise; to perform; to enter upon.

Underwrite: To bind oneself to support a project, usually by investing money; to insure; to sign one's name to a document, thereby assuming an obligation.

Undue influence: An improper amount of pressure which influences someone to do something he would not do if left to his own devices. As an example, if it can be proved that someone persuaded a maker of a will to leave him money that he would not have received except for his undue influence, then the will might be set aside and nullified.

United States of America: The union of all the states, under the United States Constitution, with governmental control vested in the people of the various states.

Unliquidated claim: A disputed claim; an unsettled dispute.

Unprofessional conduct: Dishonorable or immoral behavior; conduct that violates the code of ethics of one's position or profession.

Unsecured creditor: A creditor without collateral; a person owed money who has no rights in specific property as security for the debt.

Usury: The act of charging an exorbitant, excessive, illegal rate of interest for a loan; an unlawful contract for the loan of money.

Utter: 1. Total; absolute; complete. 2. To say; to speak words.

Vacation: The annulment of a previous judgment or decision; the act of setting aside or canceling.

Valid: Legally binding; sufficient; justifiable; complying with necessary regulations and formalities.

Valuable consideration: A matter of contract in which one party agrees to do something in return for something the other party agrees to give him, usually money or property. The term implies that the person promised something has the right to enforce the promisor to pay him.

Valuation: The estimated worth of something; the price placed upon something.

Value received: A term frequently used in a promissory note, meaning that a lawful consideration (a situation wherein one party agrees to do something in return for something the other party agrees to give him) has been given for the note.

Vandalism: The senseless, willful destruction of or injury to property.

Venture: A new business enterprise, embarked upon to make a profit. It is implicit that a venture carries with it the possibility of losing money, as well as making money.

Venue: The locality where a case is tried; a neighborhood.

Verbal agreement: An agreement reached orally, not committed to writing; a parol contract. Verification: Confirmation as to the truthfulness of something, either by swearing under oath or by offering an affidavit as to validity.

Verify: To substantiate or confirm under oath.

Vested: Something not subject to being taken away, such as vested rights; complete; settled; absolute; not dependent upon conditions, such as the complete, vested ownership of property.

Viability: The ability to sustain life, such as the ability of an unborn child to live if it were not in its mother's womb; capable of working out, such as the viability of an enterprise; being able to survive; practicable.

Vice: 1. Instead of; in place of, as a vice president. 2. Immoral or sinful conduct. 3. A defect or fault; an imperfection.

Visitation: The act of visiting and investigating the premises of an institution or business by an official agency. Such visitation is usually carried out to determine if an institution is being managed properly. Prisons, state hospitals, and other institutions are often visited by specially appointed committees of observers or overseers.

Vital statistics: Information on births, deaths, longevity, marriages, divorces, matters of health, etcetera, kept by the public authorities. Such data is kept in a hall of records.

Void: Having no legal or binding effect; null; ineffectual.

Voucher: A receipt showing that one has paid a debt; a book of accounts containing the company's receipts; a document that gives evidence of an expenditure.

Wages: Payment for labor.

Waive: To relinquish or give up a right, privilege, or benefit. A waiver implies that the person knows what he is doing when renouncing his right, privilege, or benefit.

Ward: 1. A child placed by a court under the care of a guardian.

Warrant: 1. A court order giving authority to a sheriff or police officer to arrest a person, to search a house, etcetera. 2. To state that something is true.

Warranties: 1. A statement that certain facts are true, made by one party to a contract and accepted by the other party as true. 2. An agreement to make up for any damages that result from a false representation of facts.

Warranty: 1. A statement that certain facts are true, made by one party to a contract and accepted by the other party as true. 2. An agreement to make up for any damages that result from a false representation of facts.

Wholly: Completely; entirely; exclusively; the opposite of partially.

Widow: A married woman whose husband has died and who has not remarried.

Will: 1. A document made in anticipation of eventual death, in which a person states what he wants done with his property after he dies. Such a document must be made according to law, and is recorded and filed in a probate court after the person has died. 2. Desire or wish. 3. Determination. 4. The mental capacity to carry out a conscious act.

Witness: 1. An individual who testifies under oath at a trial, a hearing, or before a legislative body. 2. To see or hear something take place. 3. To be present, and often to sign, a legal document, such as a will or deed. Having a witness sign lends authenticity to a document.

Writ: A formal order of a court, in writing, ordering someone who is out of court to do something.

Writ of execution: An order of the court that its judgment (decision) be carried out.

Written consent: Consent given in writing in lieu of a meeting to approve certain actions.

Zoning: The division of certain areas in a community into various categories for permission to build, or not to build, certain types of structures. For example, a certain area may be zoned for residential structures only, while another area permits business structures only.