Words, Phrases & Definitions
Abandonment – The surrender, relinquishment, disclaimer, or cession of property or of rights to property.
Abatement – To put an end to.
Ab Initio – From the beginning.
Ab Initio Mundi – From the beginning of the world.
Abstract – A brief summary.
Abstract of Judgment – A brief transcript of the essentials of a judgment.
Abstract of Title – A summary of the conveyances, transfers and other facts appearing of record and relied upon as evidence of title to real property.
Abutting – Touching or bordering a street, highway, or other public place.
Acceleration Clause – A clause in a note, trust deed, or mortgage advancing or hastening the date of maturity of the indebtedness or obligation upon the happening of a certain event.
Access Right – A landowner’s right to have ingress to and egress from the property to a public street.
Accession – Addition to property by natural increase or growth or by installation of improvements.
Accommodation – An obligation assumed without consideration.
Accommodation Party – A person who signs a promissory note without receiving value.
Accommodation Recording – The recordation of an instrument without consideration and without assumption of responsibility for correctness or validity.
Accretion – A process by which land on a shore or riverbank increases gradually by the deposit of sand or soil upon the shore or riverbank.
Accrual – The growing or adding to.
Acknowledgment – A formal declaration before a duly authorized officer by a person who has executed an instrument that such execution is his or her act and deed.
Action – An ordinary proceeding in a court of justice by which one party prosecutes another for the enforcement or protection of a right; the redress or prevention of a wrong; or, the punishment of a public offense.
Action in Personam – An action in which judgment is sought against a person.
Action in Rem – An action in which judgment is sought against property to determine its status.
Actual Notice – Notice in fact or in reality to or by a party directly and personally.
Ad – At; to; before; near; for; of; until; within.
Ad Curiam – Before the court; to the court.
Ad Litem – During the pendency of the action or proceeding.
Ad Valorem – According to value.
Adjoining Owners – Owners of two or more parcels of real property that are contiguous to each other.
Adjudication – A judicial determination.
Administrator – Personal representative of the estate of an intestate decedent.
Administratrix – A woman administrator.
Administrator C.T.A. – An administrator with will annexed. The letters C.T.A. mean “cum testa-mento annexo” and are derived from Latin. If administration is granted but the decedent has made an incomplete will without naming executor(s) or if decedent names incapable persons or if executor(s) refuses to act, the administrator is an ‘Administrator C.T.A.’
Advances – Money paid before proper time of payment.
Adverse Possession – Claim of ownership of property based upon open and hostile possession and occupancy.
Affiant – A person who has made an affidavit.
Affidavit – A written declaration under oath.
Affirmation – A declaration in writing under penalty of perjury.
After-Acquired Title – Title accepted by a grantor after his or her previous conveyance.
Agency – A relationship between two or more persons whereby one is authorized to act for another.
Agreement of Sale – An agreement entered into for the sale and purchase of property.
AKA – Also Known As
Alcalde – Spanish for mayor or chief magistrate.
Alienate – To transfer title to property.
Alienation – The transfer of title to property.
Alienation Clause – Provision in a note or in a security instrument calling for automatic maturity in the event of sale or transfer of title by borrower.
Allegation – A statement of fact in a pleading yet to be proved.
All-Inclusive Deed of Trust – A deed of trust securing payment of an obligation owing under a prior deed of trust.
Aliter – Otherwise.
Alluvion – Soil deposited by the process of accretion.
A.L.T.A. – American Land Title Association.
Amortization – Payment of principal and interest at stated periods for a stated time until debt is extinguished.
Ancillary – An addition to.
Ancillary Administration – Probate estate administration in a state other than the state of decedent’s domicile.
Annexation – Addition to property or to territory.
Annuity – A yearly payment of money for life or for a term of years.
Annum – Year.
Ante – Before.
Antenuptial – Before marriage.
A Priori – From the past. From what goes before. Used in legal writing to indicate a cause and effect relationship.
Appearance – Presence of a party litigant before the court.
Appraisal – Statement of value.
Appraiser – A person qualified to determine property value.
Appurtenance – Anything incidental to or belonging to land considered a part of the real property.
Appurtenant – Belonging to.
Arbitrary (ARB) Map – A map made by a title company for its own convenience in identifying parcels of real property.
Assessed Value – Value of property for taxation purposes.
Assessments – Special taxes imposed to pay for public improvements beneficial to a limited area.
Assessor – County official who determines value of property for taxation purposes.
Assets – Property of value, property having an economic benefit.
Assign – To transfer all of an interest in personal property.
Assignee – One to whom property is assigned.
Assignor – One who transfers property by assignment.
Assumpsit – An undertaking to do an act or to make payment.
Assumption Agreement – An agreement to undertake a debt or obligation contracted by another.
Assumption Fee – The charge made by a lender when a buyer assumes seller’s existing loan.
Assumption of Mortgage – An agreement in which buyer agrees to be liable for payment of an existing note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust.
Attachment – A judicial process by which a creditor obtains a lien upon property of a debtor prior to adjudication of the debt.
Attestation Clause – The clause in a deed denoting the subscribing persons are witnesses.
Attorn – To accept and acknowledge a new landlord.
Attorney-In-Fact – An agent authorized to act for another.
Avulsion – Sudden tearing away of land by violent action of a river or other watercourse.
Ayuntamiento – Spanish for town council.
Balloon Payment – Final installment payment of a promissory note larger than any single preceding installment payment.
Bankruptcy – A proceeding in U.S. Bankruptcy Court wherein assets of a debtor (unable or unwilling to pay debts) are applied by an officer of the court in satisfaction of creditor claims.
Base Lines – Imaginary east-west lines that intersect meridians to form a starting point for measurement of land.
Bench Mark – Location indicated on a durable marker by a land surveyor.
Beneficiary – One for whose benefit a trust is created. A lender secured by a deed of trust.
Beneficiary’s Demand – Payment required by a beneficiary under a deed of trust before authorizing recon-veyance.
Beneficiary’s Statement – Statement of a beneficiary under a deed of trust as to principal balance due on a promissory note and other information concerning the loan.
Benevolent Associations – Voluntary non-profit aggregations organized for the benefit of members.
Betterment – Substantial improvement to real property.
Bequeath – To give personal property by will.
Binder – Written agreement to issue, within a specified time, a policy of title insurance. Contract to insure.
Blanket Mortgage or Deed of Trust – A mortgage or deed of trust on more than one lot or parcel.
Blue Sky Law – A law (generally of a state) protecting the public from investing in fraudulent companies. Usually requires full disclosure of risks associated with investment before the investment entity puts investor’s monies at risk.
Bona Fide – In good faith.
Bona Fide Purchaser – A purchaser in good faith, for fair value and without notice of any adverse claim or right of third parties.
Bond – A written undertaking to pay a certain sum of money.
Bonded Debt – An indebtedness secured by a bond issue.
Building Contract – Agreement for the construction of a proposed structure.
Building Lines – Lines established by ordinance or by statute beyond which building is not permitted.
By-Law – A rule adopted for the internal government of a corporation or unincorporated association.
C.C. – Civil Code.
CC&Rs – Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions — detailed limitations applying to the use or enjoyment of real property.
C.C.P. – Code of Civil Procedure.
c.t.a. – With will annexed.
Capita – Heads; persons.
Caption – The heading of a title or document.
Cause – An action or a suit.
Caveat – Let him/her beware.
Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware.
Certificate of Sale – Evidence of a purchaser’s acquisition of legal title at a judicial sale, subject to redemption rights, if any.
Certificate of Title – Certified statement as to land ownership based upon examination of record title.
Certiorari – A writ from a higher court to a lower court directing the forwarding of a certified record of a proceeding up for review.
Cestui Que Trust – The person for whose benefit property is held in trust.
Cestui Que Use – The person for whose use land was granted to another.
Cestui Que Vie – The person for the duration of whose lifetime an estate has been granted.
Chain of Title – A chronological list of documents comprising the record history of title to a specific parcel of real property.
Change of Venue – The removal of a cause for trial from one county to another.
Charter City – Generally, a city organized under a charter.
Chattel – An item or article of personal property.
Chattel Mortgage – Obsolete name for mortgage of personal property.
Chattel Real – An interest in real estate which is of a lessor degree than a freehold estate. For example, an estate at sufferance.
Chose in Action – A personal right not reduced to possession but recoverable by an action at law.
Civil Law – Law of the Roman Empire, it is distinguished from the Common Law of England.
Class Action – A lawsuit in which plaintiff represents himself or herself and all other persons similarly situated.
Clearing House – An office where bankers daily settle the balance of their accounts with each other.
Cloud on Title – A semblance or claim of title that is in fact invalid.
Co-Administrator – One of two or more administrators.
Code – A collection of laws.
Codicil – A testamentary disposition subsequent to a will altering, explaining, adding to, subtracting from, or confirming it, but not revoking it.
Co-Executor – One of two or more executors.
Co-Insurance – Insurance issued by two or more insurers.
Collateral – Property pledged as security for a debt; also, indirect, when referenced to blood relationship as in ‘collateral heirs’.
Collateral Assignment – Transfer of an interest in personal property for security purposes. A collateral assignment is distinguished from an absolute assignment mainly because once the debt is paid that was secured by the collateral assignment, the assignment is extinguished.
Color of Title – That giving the appearance of title.
Commercial Acre – The portion of an acre of subdivided land remaining after deducting areas devoted to streets, sidewalks, etc.
Commissioner’s Deed – Deed executed by a court appointed person in consummation of a sale ordered by the court.
Commitment – A pledge, promise, or firm agreement; also, a title insurer’s contractual obligation to insure title to real property.
Common Law – The unwritten body of English law founded upon customs and precedents.
Community Property – Property acquired by a husband and wife, or either, during marriage, when not acquired as the separate property of either.
Competent – Legally qualified, capable of contracting.
Composition – Agreement between a debtor and creditors whereby the latter mutually agree to accept a certain percentage less than is due each one.
Conclusive Presumption – Legal inference that cannot be contradicted.
Condemnation – The taking of private property for a public use. The exercise of power of eminent domain.
Condemnation Guarantee – An evidence of title issued to a governmental agency naming persons to be made defendants in an action in eminent domain.
Condition – A qualification or restriction annexed to a conveyance of lands, whereby it is provided that upon the happening of a particular event an estate shall commence, be enlarged, or be defeated.
Condition Precedent – A condition that must be fulfilled before a right accrues or an estate vests.
Condition Subsequent – A condition that defeats a previously accrued right or vested estate.
Conditional Sale Contract – Contract of sale where title remains in seller until all conditions of the contract have been fulfilled.
Condominium – The composite of individual ownership and exclusive possession of a cube of space in a multi-unit building plus a collective ownership of and a collective right of possession to facilities common to all separately owned units.
Confession of Judgment – Entry of judgment without formality of proceedings upon debtor’s admission and with debtor’s consent.
Confirmation of Sale – Court approval of sale by a personal representative, guardian, or conservator.
Congressional Grant – A grant of public land of the United States by an act of Congress.
Conservatee – A person unable to manage self, property, or self and property and for whom the probate court has appointed a conservator.
Conservator – A person appointed by probate court to take care of the person, property, or person and property of conservatee.
Consideration – The value inducing another person to enter into a contract.
Constituent Corporation – A corporation merged or consolidated with one or more other corporations.
Constructive – Inferred or implied.
Constructive Notice – Notice given by public records.
Constructive Trust – Trust imposed by law to redress a wrong or to prevent unjust enrichment.
Contiguous – In actual close contact; touching, adjacent, near.
Contingent – Dependent upon an uncertain future event.
Contingent Beneficiary – A person who may share in an estate or trust depending upon the happening of an event.
Contingent Interest – An interest which may vest depending upon the happening of an event.
Contour – Surface configuration of land.
Contract – An agreement between two or more parties to do, or not to do a particular act.
Contract of Sale – An agreement entered into for the sale and purchase of property.
Convey – To transfer title to property from one person to another.
Conveyance – A written instrument transferring title to or an interest in land.
Corporate Seal – A seal attached to an instrument executed by a corporation.
Corporation – An artificial being created by law and endowed with certain rights, privileges, and duties of natural persons.
Corporation Sole – A corporation consisting of a single person and his/her successor in office.
Corporeal Hereditaments – Substantial permanent objects which may be inherited.
Corp. Code – Corporations Code.
Corpus – Property comprising the assets of a trust.
Cotenancy – Ownership by two or more persons.
Co-Trustee – One of two or more trustees.
Courses and Distances – Description of land by metes and bounds.
Covenant – Agreement or promise.
Curtesy – The common law interest of a husband in estate of deceased wife.
Custodia Legis – In the custody of the law.
Date Down – The date a title examination is to be brought down to from the date of the last examination. Generally the date of recording of instruments and documents in the Recorder’s Office.
d.b.n. – Abbreviation for de bonis non administratis, De Bonis Non Administratis. Of the goods not administered. When an administrator is appointed to succeed another, who has left the estate partially unsettled, he is said to be granted