GLOSSARY OF LEGAL TERMS
Have you been served papers you don’t understand? Received a letter with terms you don’t recognize?
Been presented with an offer that doesn’t make sense?!
From A-Z, a Glossary of Legal Terms so you Can Talk the Talk!
Here, you can find plain-English definitions for some of the most common
legal terms in finance, real estate and bankruptcy law. Click on a term to
read its definition:
An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit that may occur within a bankruptcy. It is filed separate from but is related to the bankruptcy case and it resembles a typical civil case.
An anti-deficiency law is a state law that prohibits lenders from suing borrowers for deficiencies (the difference between the amount owed on a mortgage and the price at which a house sold in a foreclosure), often on mortgages secured by a borrower's principal residence.
Bankruptcy is a legal process available to consumers and businesses to eliminate or reorganize (pay some or all) debts under the protection of the United States Bankruptcy Court.
California's foreclosure law governs how a lender can take possession of a property they have a security interest in when the borrower defaults. California's foreclosure law allows for judicial and non-judicial foreclosures.
Chapter 11 is a chapter of the bankruptc code that provides for reorganization, usually involing a corporation or partnership. A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. People in business or individuals ca also seek relief in chapter 11.
A chapter 13 bankruptcy enables individuals with regular income to develop a plan to repay all or part of their debts. Under this chapter, debtors propose a repayment plan to make installments to creditors over three to five years.
Debt consolidation is a form of debt refinancing that entails taking out one loan to pay off many others.
A deed in lieu of foreclosure is a deed instrument in which a borrower conveys all interest in a real property to the lender to satisfy a loan that is in default and consequently avoide foreclosure proceedings.
Dischargeable debts are obligations that can be wiped out by your bankruptcy discharge, thus eliminating your legal obligation to ever pay them again. Common examples of dischargeable debt include credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, busines debt, etc.
An emergency bankruptcy is a bankruptcy filed with the minimal necessary documents to commence the bankrupcy. This is oftentimes done to stop an event such as a bank levy, wage garnishment, or foreclosure. An emergency bankruptcy does require that the balance of the required materials are filed shortly thereafter, otherwise, the bankruptcy will dismiss and creditors will be able to resume their collection efforts.
A fiduciary relationship arises when one has a relationship with a fidicuary. A fiduciary is a person who holds a legal or ethical relationship of trust with one or more parties (person or group of persons).
The action of refraining from exercising a legal right, commonly with respect to the enforcements of the payment of a debt.
Foreclosure is the process of taking possession of a mortgaged property as a result of the borrower's failure to keep up with the mortgage payments. A foreclosure can be wrongful and give rise to a civil cause of action based on allegations of foreclosure fraud. Fraud can occur across multiple facets of the foreclosure process, including botched documents, uncrupulous lenders or predatory foreclosure mediators.
A fraudulent conveyance, or fraudulent transfer, is an an attempt to avoid debt by transferring money to another person or company. It is a civil cause of action. It arises in debtor/creditor relations, particularly with reference to insolvent debtors.
A lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. Common examples of liens include mortgages and auto loans.
Homeowners facing a major financial hardship that could lead to foreclosure may work with a lender to get a loan modification which will change the terms of the mortgage loan so the borrower can afford the payments.
The bankruptcy "means test" is an objective standard of weighing whether a debtor qualifies for bankruptcy under Chapter 7. The means test was added to the bankruptcy process as a result of bankruptcy reform in 2005.
A moratorium is a temporary prohibition of an activity. When there are a substantial number of foreclosures, lenders will sometimes consider foreclosure moratoriums, which may result in the freezing of foreclosure activities for a specific period of time.
Non-dischargeable debts are debts that cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy. Examples of non-dischargeable debts include child support, spousal support, criminal files, penalties, restitution, certain tax obligations, student loans (with rare exception), and debts acquired by fraud (creditors must prove fraud before debt will be deemed non-dischargeable).
A predatory home loan is a loan that imposes unfair or abusive loan terms on a borrower.
A preferential transfer is defined as a payment of money or transfer of property by a debtor that was made to or for the benefit of a creditor, the transfer was made for or on account of a debt that was owed before the transfer was made and the transfer was made while the debtor was insolvent.
Principal is a sum of money lent or invested on which interest is paid.
A reaffirmation agreement in US Bankruptcy Law refers to an agreement made between a creditor and the debtor that waives discharge of a debt that would otherwise be discharegd in the pending bankruptcy proceeding.
Schedule I is a document within one's bankruptcy that provides the debtor's projected income and deductions.
A junior lien is a subordinate debt that is secured by property. A common example of a second lien is a second mortgage.
Examples of secured debt include mortgages, mechanics liens, and auto loans.