GLOSSARY OF LEGAL TERMS

Administrator - the person appointed by the court whose duty it is to collect, preserve and manage the property of a succession.  The court often appoints an administrator when a decedent had no last will and testament

Agent - a person who is authorized to act on behalf of another

Bills of Exchange - a written order made on a second party to pay a third party a certain sum of money (such as a check)

Collation - the treatment of gifts made during a person's lifetime as an advance on the inheritance of their children or grandchildren.

Community Property - property acquired by spouses during their marriage in which each spouse owns an undivided one-half.  Louisiana is a community property state.

Confession of Judgment - entry of a judgment against a debtor who has previously agreed that such a judgment would be entered should he fail to pay his debt on time

Consignment - the handing over of goods by their owner (consignor) to a carrier for delivery to a third party (consignee)

Curator - a person legally responsible for managing the affairs of a person legally incompetent to administer his property or properly assert his rights (sometimes called a "guardian")

Declaratory Judgment - a binding statement of the court declaring the rights and duties of the parties in a case or stating an opinion on a question of law

Estate Administration - the process of settling an estate after someone dies

Et seq - a Latin phrase meaning "and the following"

Executor - the person you designate in your last will and testament who will work with the attorney to settle your estate

Executory Process - an accelerated proceeding (often in a foreclosure) by which the lender uses a mortgage that includes a waiver of executory process and/or confession of judgment to avoid a lengthy court process

Forced Heirship - the concept in Louisiana that your children that are either (1) age 23 or younger at your death; or (2) unable to manage their own affairs regardless of their age, are automatically entitled to inherit from you, regardless of what you write in your last will and testament

Grantor Trust - any trust over which the settlor or other owner retains the power to control or direct the trust's income or assets, resulting in the income of the trust being taxed to the settlor, rather than the trust

Heir - a person who inherits from you when you do not have a last will and testament

Hypothecate - to mortgage resources as collateral for an obligation or debt owed; to pledge assets as security for a debt

Immovable Property - an item of property that cannot be moved without destroying or altering it; property that is fixed to the earth, such as land or a house

Income Beneficiary - a beneficiary who is to receive the income, as opposed to the principal of a trust

Independent Executor - your executor who is allowed to act pursuant to a simpler probate process because you either authorized it in your Will or all of your heirs agreed to allow the executor to serve as an independent executor.  Independent executors typically do not require the court authorization to act that is otherwise required of executors.

Injunction - a court order to a party to perform or to desist from a particular act

Inter vivos - a Latin phrase meaning "during life"

Last Will and Testament - a legal document naming your executor and describing, among other things, who is entitled to your assets when you die

Legatee - a person to whom a legacy or bequest in a Will is given

Legitime - the amount of your estate that you must leave to your forced heirs

Living Trust - a trust that you establish during your lifetime

Living Will - a document whereby you express your intentions regarding the withdrawal or withholding of life support systems

Marital Portion - the amount that a surviving spouse is entitled to claim when the surviving spouse is "poor" in comparison to the deceased spouse who was "rich"

Marriage Contract - a document two individuals sign, typically prior to marriage, in order to deviate from the community property rules

Movable Property - all property other than immovable property; generally, personal property such as vehicles, personal effects, stocks, bonds, and notes

Naked Owner - the person who is entitled to ownership of assets at the termination of the usufruct

Notarial Will - one of two forms of valid Wills in Louisiana.  Most wills in Louisiana are notarial will. Notarial wills are typically typed, they have certain required language, they are signed on every page, and they are formally notarized and witnessed.

Olographic Will - one of two forms of valid Wills in Louisiana.  It is entirely in your own handwriting, signed, and dated.  Olographic wills are not recommended because lay people typically do not have the expertise to prepare such an important legal document as your last will and testament

Pact de non Alienando - a clause in a mortgage contract in which the mortgagor agrees not to sell the mortgaged property to the prejudice of the mortgagee thereby giving the mortgagee the right to foreclose on the property and to seize and sell the mortgaged property, regardless of whether the mortgagor has sold the property to a third party.

Principal - the one who directs or allows another to act on his behalf

Principal Beneficiary - a beneficiary who is to receive the principal of a trust upon the termination of the trust

Probate - the court-supervised process of transferring  your assets to your heirs or legatees after your death.  Also known as "succession" in Louisiana.

Promissory Note - a negotiable instrument in which the maker unconditionally promises to pay a sum of money

Punitive Damages - awarded damages not related to actual harm caused to the plaintiff but instead intended to punish the defendant and deter future wrong-doing

Separate Property - property that you own that is not community property with your spouse.  Common examples of separate property are property you acquired before you married, property you inherited, and property that was given to you by someone else.

Settlor - a person who creates a trust (sometimes called a "grantor")

Spendthrift Trust - a trust established for the benefit of a person that has restrictions attached to it as to guard against that person's misuse or wasting of the trust proceeds

Subrogation - the placement of one person in the place of another so that he succeeds to that person's rights and obligations with respect to a third person

Succession - the court-supervised process of transferring  your assets to your heirs after you die.  In other states, it is called probate.

Successor Income Beneficiary - a beneficiary who is to receive the income, as opposed to the principal of a trust after the initial income beneficiary's interest terminates

Survivorship - a provision in a Louisiana Will requiring a legatee to survive the testator by a certain period of time in order to inherit the property left to the legatee in the Will:  should the legatee not survive the testator by this period of time, the property will be distributed as though the legatee died before the testator.

Testamentary Trust - a trust, the terms of which are stated in your last will and testament.  Parents with minor children often establish testamentary trusts in their Wills.

Testator - one who makes or has made a Will

Trust - a relationship resulting from the transfer of title of property to a person (trustee) to be administered for the benefit of another (beneficiary)

Trust Income - any interest earned on the principal of the trust; the right to use trust principal such as a home

Trust Principal - the original money and/or assets placed into the trust

Trust Termination Date - the date or time upon which a Trust or a portion of a Trust ceases to exist and the principal is distributed to the beneficiaries

Trustee - the person appointed to hold and manage property in trust for the benefit of another

Tutor - the legal guardian of a child under the age of eighteen

Usufruct - a right of limited duration to use the property of another.  A spouse often leaves his or her surviving spouse the usufruct of his or her estate, and names the children as the naked owners.

Waiver of Appraisement - a provision in a mortgage contract whereby the mortgagor and mortgagee agree that mortgaged property will not have to be formally appraised prior to judicial sale in a foreclosure proceeding