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LEGAL TERMS

SHORT SALE (OF HOUSE)

A sale of a house in which the proceeds fall short of what the owner still owes on the mortgage. Many lenders will agree to accept the proceeds of a short sale ... (more...)
A sale of a house in which the proceeds fall short of what the owner still owes on the mortgage. Many lenders will agree to accept the proceeds of a short sale and forgive the rest of what is owed on the mortgage when the owner cannot make the mortgage payments. By accepting a short sale, the lender can avoid a lengthy and costly foreclosure, and the owner is able to pay off the loan for less than what he owes. See also deed in lieu (or foreclosure).

ESCHEAT

The forfeit of all property to the state when a person dies without heirs.

NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENT

A legally binding contract in which a person or business promises to treat specific information as a trade secret and not disclose it to others without proper a... (more...)
A legally binding contract in which a person or business promises to treat specific information as a trade secret and not disclose it to others without proper authorization. Nondisclosure agreements are often used when a business discloses a trade secret to another person or business for such purposes as development, marketing, evaluation or securing financial backing. Although nondisclosure agreements are usually in the form of written contracts, they may also be implied if the context of a business relationship suggests that the parties intended to make an agreement. For example, a business that conducts patent searches for inventors is expected to keep information about the invention secret, even if no written agreement is signed, because the nature of the business is to deal in confidential information.

HOMESTEAD

(1) The house in which a family lives, plus any adjoining land and other buildings on that land. (2) Real estate which is not subject to the claims of creditors... (more...)
(1) The house in which a family lives, plus any adjoining land and other buildings on that land. (2) Real estate which is not subject to the claims of creditors as long as it is occupied as a home by the head of the household. After the head of the family dies, homestead laws often allow the surviving spouse or minor children to live on the property for as long as they choose. (3) Land acquired out of the public lands of the United States. The term 'homesteaders' refers to people who got their land by settling it and making it productive, rather than purchasing it outright.

DEVISE

An old legal term that is generally used to refer to real estate left to someone under the terms of a will, or to the act of leaving such real estate. In some s... (more...)
An old legal term that is generally used to refer to real estate left to someone under the terms of a will, or to the act of leaving such real estate. In some states, 'devise' now applies to any kind of property left by will, making it identical to the term bequest. Compare legacy.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

The legally prescribed time limit in which a lawsuit must be filed. Statutes of limitation differ depending on the type of legal claim, and often the state. For... (more...)
The legally prescribed time limit in which a lawsuit must be filed. Statutes of limitation differ depending on the type of legal claim, and often the state. For example, many states require that a personal injury lawsuit be filed within one year from the date of injury -- or in some instances, from the date when it should reasonably have been discovered -- but some allow two years. Similarly, claims based on a written contract must be filed in court within four years from the date the contract was broken in some states and five years in others. Statute of limitations rules apply to cases filed in all courts, including federal court.

JOINT TENANCY

A way for two or more people to share ownership of real estate or other property. When two or more people own property as joint tenants and one owner dies, the ... (more...)
A way for two or more people to share ownership of real estate or other property. When two or more people own property as joint tenants and one owner dies, the other owners automatically own the deceased owner's share. For example, if a parent and child own a house as joint tenants and the parent dies, the child automatically becomes full owner. Because of this right of survivorship, no will is required to transfer the property; it goes directly to the surviving joint tenants without the delay and costs of probate.

DEED IN LIEU (OF FORECLOSURE)

A means of escaping an overly burdenome mortgage. If a homeowner can't make the mortgage payments and can't find a buyer for the house, many lenders will accept... (more...)
A means of escaping an overly burdenome mortgage. If a homeowner can't make the mortgage payments and can't find a buyer for the house, many lenders will accept ownership of the property in place of the money owed on the mortgage. Even if the lender won't agree to accept the property, the homeowner can prepare a quitclaim deed that unilaterally transfers the homeowner's property rights to the lender.

MEMORANDUM

(1) An informal written document. A memorandum may be used in any number of circumstances, but most lawyers are best acquainted with the interoffice memorandum-... (more...)
(1) An informal written document. A memorandum may be used in any number of circumstances, but most lawyers are best acquainted with the interoffice memorandum--a document prepared by a junior associate in a law office or a judge's law clerk outlining the facts, procedural elements and legal arguments involved in a particular legal matter. These memos are reviewed by senior lawyers and judges who use them to decide how to proceed with the case. (2) Any written record, including a letter or note, that proves that a contract exists between two parties. This type of memo may be enough to validate an oral (spoken) contract that would otherwise be unenforceable because of the statute of frauds. (Under the statute of frauds, an oral contract is invalid if it can't be completed within one year from the date the contract is made.)

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

CASPIAN v. Zoning Bd.

The issue on this appeal is whether a municipal zoning board may deny requested area variances on the basis of common-law principles that are independent of the statutory factors enumerated under Town Law § 267-b (3). In particular, we are asked to determine whether ongoing ...

MATTER OF GENSER v. Board of Zoning and Appeals of Town of North Hempstead

Meanwhile, after a public hearing on January 3, 2006, the Town of North Hempstead adopted the zoning amendment which provided, inter alia, that the minimum lot width in the residence A district where the lot is located must be either 65 feet or the average width of the lots ...

MATTER OF WEST BEEKMANTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION, INC. v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Beekmantown

Petitioners contend that the ZBA's issuance of a negative declaration and subsequent grant of the conditional use permit was improper because the determination that the proposed wind farm constituted an essential service as defined by the Town Zoning Law was arbitrary and ...