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LEGAL TERMS

GRACE PERIOD

A period of time during which you are not required to make payments on a debt. For example, most credit cards give you a grace period of 20-30 days before you h... (more...)
A period of time during which you are not required to make payments on a debt. For example, most credit cards give you a grace period of 20-30 days before you have to pay interest on the amount of your purchases. Cash advances, however, usually have no grace period; interest begins to accumulate from the date of the withdrawal, even if you pay your bills on time. Also, some student loans give you a grace period after graduating or dropping out of school. During this time, you are not required to make payments on your loan.

GUARANTOR

A person who makes a legally binding promise to either pay another person's debt or perform another person's duty if that person defaults or fails to perform. T... (more...)
A person who makes a legally binding promise to either pay another person's debt or perform another person's duty if that person defaults or fails to perform. The guarantor gives a 'guaranty,' which is an assurance that the debt or other obligation will be fulfilled.

FRAUDULENT TRANSFER

In a bankruptcy case, a transfer of property to another for less than the property's value for the purpose of hiding the property from the bankruptcy trustee --... (more...)
In a bankruptcy case, a transfer of property to another for less than the property's value for the purpose of hiding the property from the bankruptcy trustee -- for instance, when a debtor signs a car over to a relative to keep it out of the bankruptcy estate. Fraudulently transferred property can be recovered and sold by the trustee for the benefit of the creditors.

PROCEEDS FOR DAMAGED EXEMPT PROPERTY

In a bankruptcy proceeding, money collected through insurance, arbitration, mediation, settlement or a lawsuit to pay for exempt property that's no longer exemp... (more...)
In a bankruptcy proceeding, money collected through insurance, arbitration, mediation, settlement or a lawsuit to pay for exempt property that's no longer exemptible because it has been damaged or destroyed.

COLLECTION AGENCY

A company hired by a creditor to collect a debt that it is owed. Creditors typically hire a collection agency only after they have made efforts to collect the d... (more...)
A company hired by a creditor to collect a debt that it is owed. Creditors typically hire a collection agency only after they have made efforts to collect the debt themselves, typically through letters (called 'dunning' letters) and telephone calls. Collection agencies are regulated by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Unfortunately, too many collectors ignore this law.

NONDISCHARGEABLE DEBTS

Debts that cannot be erased by filing for bankruptcy. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these debts will remain when your case is over. If you file for Chap... (more...)
Debts that cannot be erased by filing for bankruptcy. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these debts will remain when your case is over. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the nondischargeable debts will have to be paid in full during your plan or you will have a balance at the end of your case. Examples of nondischargeable debts include alimony and child support, most income tax debts, many student loans and debts for personal injury or death caused by drunk driving. Compare dischargeable debts.

S CORPORATION

A term that describes a profit-making corporation organized under state law whose shareholders have applied for and received subchapter S corporation status fro... (more...)
A term that describes a profit-making corporation organized under state law whose shareholders have applied for and received subchapter S corporation status from the Internal Revenue Service. Electing to do business as an S corporation lets shareholders enjoy limited liability status, as would be true of any corporation, but be taxed like a partnership or sole proprietor. That is, instead of being taxed as a separate entity (as would be the case with a regular or C corporation) an S corporation is a pass-through tax entity: income taxes are reported and paid by the shareholders, not the S corporation. To qualify as an S corporation a number of IRS rules must be met, such as a limit of 75 shareholders and citizenship requirements.

FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT (FLSA)

A federal law that guarantees a worker's right to be paid fairly. The FLSA defines the 40-hour workweek, sets out the federal minimum wage, states requirements ... (more...)
A federal law that guarantees a worker's right to be paid fairly. The FLSA defines the 40-hour workweek, sets out the federal minimum wage, states requirements for overtime and places restrictions on child labor.

GENERAL PARTNER

A person who joins with at least one other to own and operate a business for profit -- and who (unlike a corporation's owners), is personally liable for all the... (more...)
A person who joins with at least one other to own and operate a business for profit -- and who (unlike a corporation's owners), is personally liable for all the business's debts and obligations. A general partner's actions can legally bind the entire business. See also partnership, limited partnership.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Biese v. Biese

... 10 In Issue A(2), Husband asserts that all of the parties' credit card debt should not have been apportioned to him. According to Husband, if the Master's goal was a 50/50 split of the marital estate, he should have assigned half of the $10,584.00 credit card debt to Wife. ...

DEBT SETTLEMENT USA, INC. v. Kaplan

... Act 117 also defines "debt settlement services" as: [a]n action or negotiation made on behalf of a consumer with that consumer's creditors for the purpose of the creditor forgiving part or all of the principal of the debt incurred or credit extended to that consumer. ...

Commonwealth Financial Systems, Inc. v. Smith

... ("CFS") appeals from the judgment entered in favor of Ms. Larry Smith ("Ms. Smith") in this action to collect a credit card debt. [1] We affirm. ... By March 2002, Ms. Smith was approximately $2,000 in debt on her credit card account. CFS buys and collects debts. ...