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Glossary Results - A

This is a Legal Dictionary for visitor reference. Please click on the letter below to search by alphabet or use the search form to find the term you are looking for.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z  


AB trust - A trust that allows married couples to reduce or avoid estate taxes. Each spouse puts his or her property in a separate trust. When the first spouse dies, his or her half of the property goes to the beneficiaries named in the trust with the condition that the surviving spouse has the right to use the property for life and is entitled to any income it generates. When the surviving spouse dies, the property passes to the trust beneficiaries, usually the couple's children. The trust property is not considered part of the surviving spouse's estate for estate tax purposes. By having an AB trust, the surviving spouse's taxable estate on death is half the size it would be if the property were left directly to the surviving spouse.

abandonment of a child - The failure of a parent or a guardian to provide any financial assistance to or communicate with a child over a period of time. When this happens, a court may consider the child abandoned by the parent or guardian and order that person's rights terminated. Abandonment also describes situations in which a child is physically abandoned.  

abstract of title - An abbreviated history of the ownership of a piece of land. The abstract also lists any liabilities such as mortgages or liens that currently are attached to the property.  

Acceptance - The taking and receiving of anything in good faith with the intention of retaining it.

accessory - Someone who deliberately helps someone commit a crime by giving advice before the crime is committed or by helping to conceal evidence or the perpetrator. A person who helps after the crime is committed is called an accessory after the fact. An accessory is usually not physically present during the crime.  

accomplice - Someone who helps another person commit a crime and who is with the person while the crime is being committed. An accomplice is guilty of the same offense and usually receives the same sentence as the other person or persons who committed the crime.  

accord and satisfaction - An agreement to settle a contract dispute where the creditor accepts less than what is due under the contract. The creditor accepts less as a means of reducing its losses on a bad contract by saving the costs the creditor would incur by trying to collect the full amount.  

Accretion - The increase or accumulation of land by natural causes, as out of a lake or river.

accrual method of accounting - An accounting method where income is reported as soon as it is earned (as opposed to when it is actually received) and expenses are reported when they are incurred (as opposed to when they are paid).  

acknowledgment - A statement made before a notary public or other person who is authorized to administer oaths stating that the document being signed was actually signed by the person whose signature appears on the document.  

acquittal - A decision by a judge or jury that a defendant in a criminal case is not guilty of the crimes with which he was charged. An acquittal is not equivalent to being found innocent, rather it is a determination that the prosecution did not meet its burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.  

act of God - A natural event, such as a mudslide, hurricane, tornado or earthquake. An act of God may be a defense against liability for injuries or damages, particularly under an insurance policy.  

action - This term is another word for lawsuit and is usually phrased cause of action.  

action case - Cause, suit, or controversy disputed or contested before a court of justice.

ADA - See Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Additur - An increase by a judge in the amount of damages awarded by a jury.

ADEA - See Age Discrimination in Employment Act..  

adhesion contract - A form contract prepared by one party, often a bank or consumer lender, presented to the other party while offering the other party no chance to negotiate the terms of the contract.  

adjective Law - Also, procedural law. That body of law which governs the process of protecting the rights under substantive law.

adjudication - Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree. Also the judgment given.

adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) - A mortgage loan with an interest rate that changes periodically throughout the term of the loan based on a specific standard rate such as the federal funds rate or United States Treasury Bills  

administrative Agencies - Agencies created by the legislative branch of government to administer laws pertaining to specific areas such as taxes, transportation, and labor.

administrator - One who administers the estate of a person who dies without a will, or a court official.

admiralty Law - Also, Maritime Law. That body of law relating to ships, shipping, marine commerce and navigation, transportation of persons or property by sea, etc.

admissible evidence - The documents, testimony or tangible items that a trial judge allows a jury or herself to consider during trial based on the authenticity and reliability of the evidence.  

admonish - To advise or caution. For example the court may caution or admonish counsel for wrong practices.

adopt - To take legal responsibility and assume the role of parent to someone else's child.  

adoption - A court procedure by which a person becomes the legal parent of someone else's child. Adoption creates a parent

adult - In most situations and states, any person 18 years of age or older.  

adultery - A sexual relationship by a married person with someone other than his or her spouse. The other person does not need to be married for the act to constitute adultery.

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