Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parent or parents. Unlike guardianship or other systems designed for the care of the young, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status and as such requires societal recognition, either through legal or religious sanction. Historically, some societies have enacted specific laws governing adoption; where others have tried to achieve adoption through less formal means, notably via contracts that specified inheritance rights and parental responsibilities without an accompanying transfer of filiation. Modern systems of adoption, arising in the 20th century, tend to be governed by comprehensive statutes and regulations. Read More…
Advance Medical Directives / Advance Health Care Directive / Living Will:
An advance health care directive, also known as living will, personal directive, advance directive, or advance decision, is a set of written instructions that a person gives that specify what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity. The instruction appoints someone, usually called an agent, to make such decisions on their behalf. A living will is one form of advance directive, leaving instructions for treatment. Another form authorizes a specific type of power of attorney or health care proxy, where someone is appointed by the individual to make decisions on their behalf when they are incapacitated. People may also have a combination of both. People are often encouraged to complete both documents to provide comprehensive guidance regarding their care. Examples of combination documents include the Five Wishes and MyDirectives advance directives in the United States. Read More …
Alimony (also called aliment (Scotland), maintenance (England and Wales), spousal support (U.S./Canada) and spousal maintenance (Australia)) is a legal obligation on a person to provide financial support to her or his spouse before or after marital separation or divorce. The obligation arises from the divorce law or family law of each country. Traditionally, alimony was paid by a husband to his former wife, but since the 1970s there have been moves in many Western countries towards gender equality with a corresponding recognition that a former husband may also be entitled to alimony from his former wife. Read More…
Business Entity Formation:
Companies law (or the law of business associations) is the field of law concerning companies and other business organizations. This includes corporations, partnerships and other associations which usually carry on some form of economic or charitable activity. The most prominent kind of company, usually referred to as a “corporation”, is a “juristic person“, i.e. it has separate legal personality, and those who invest money into the business have limited liability for any losses the company makes, governed by corporate law. The largest companies are usually publicly listed on stock exchanges around the world. Even single individuals, also known as sole traders may incorporate themselves and limit their liability in order to carry on a business. All different forms of companies depend on the particular law of the particular country in which they reside.
The law of business organizations originally derived from the common law of England, but has evolved significantly in the 20th century. In common law countries today, the most commonly addressed forms are:
- Limited company
- Unlimited company
- Limited liability partnership
- Limited partnership
- Not-for-profit corporation
- Company limited by guarantee
- Sole Proprietorship Read More…
Child custody and guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent’s duty to care for the child.
Following ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in most countries, terms such as “residence” and “contact” (known as “visitation” in the United States) have superseded the concepts of “custody” and “access”. Instead of a parent having “custody” of or “access” to a child, a child is now said to “reside” or have “contact” with a parent. For a discussion of the new international nomenclature, see parental responsibility. Read More…
Conservatorship is a legal concept in the United States of America, where an entity or organization is subjected to the legal control of an external entity or organization, known as a conservator. Conservatorship is established either by court order (with regard to individuals) or via a statutory or regulatory authority (with regard to organizations). When referring to government control of private corporations such as Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, conservatorship implies a more temporary control than does nationalization. In other legal terms, a conservatorship may refer to the legal responsibilities over a person who is mentally ill, including individuals who are psychotic, suicidal, incapacitated, or in some other way unable to make legal, medical or financial decisions on behalf of themselves.
Conservatorship is a legal term referring to the legal responsibilities of a conservator over the affairs of a person who has been deemed gravely disabled by the court and unable to meet his or her basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. There are two types of conservatorships: Lanterman Petris-Short (Lanterman Petris Short act of 1967, referred to as LPS) and Probate conservatorships. They are governed by the state’s individual laws. In California, they are governed by the California Probate Code, and Welfare and Institutions Codes. Some states or jurisdictions refer to it as a guardianship, or even a trustee, instead of a conservator. Read More…
Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the termination of a marital union, the canceling of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and the dissolving of the bonds of matrimony between a married couple. Divorce is unlike annulment which declares the marriage null and void. Divorce laws vary considerably around the world, but in most countries it requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process. The legal process of divorce may also involve issues of alimony (spousal support), child custody, child support, distribution of property, and division of debt. In most countries monogamy is required by law, so divorce allows each former partner to marry another; where polygyny is legal but polyandry is not, divorce allows the woman to marry a new husband.
Estate Planing is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during your life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.
In the common law legal system, an expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which a first time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, thereby making the records unavailable through the state or Federal repositories. If successful, the records are said to be “expunged”. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “expungement of record” as the “Process by which record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from the state or Federal repository.” While expungement deals with an underlying criminal record, it is a civil action in which the subject is the petitioner or plaintiff asking a court to declare that the records be expunged. Read More…
Family Limited Partnership:
Family Limited Partnerships (commonly called FLPs) are frequently used to move wealth from one generation to another. Partners are either General Partners (GP) or Limited Partners (LP). One or more General Partners are responsible for managing the FLP and its assets. Limited Partners have an economic interest in the FLP, but typically lack two noteworthy rights: control and marketability. Limited Partners have no ability to control, direct, or otherwise influence the operations of the FLP. They can neither buy additional assets, nor sell existing assets, and they cannot act on the Partnership’s behalf. They also substantially lack the ability to sell their interest, with one typical exception: transfers to immediate family members (spouse, siblings, and direct lineal descendants and ascendants). FLPs are partnerships limited to family members, hence the name. Read More…
A felony is a serious crime in some common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person’s land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors. Many common law countries have now abolished the felony/misdemeanor distinction and replaced it with other distinctions such as between indictable offences and summary offences. A felony is generally considered to be a crime of “high seriousness“, while a misdemeanor is not.
A person convicted in a court of law of a felony crime is known as a felon. In the United States, where the felony/misdemeanor distinction is still widely applied, the federal government defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. If punishable by exactly one year or less, it is classified as a misdemeanor. The individual states may differ in this definition, using other categories as seriousness or context. Read More…
A fiduciary is a legal or ethical relationship of trust between two or more parties. Typically, a fiduciary prudently takes care of money for another person. One party, for example a corporate trust company or the trust department of a bank, acts in a fiduciary capacity to the other one, who for example has funds entrusted to it for investment. In a fiduciary relationship, one person, in a position of vulnerability, justifiably vests confidence, good faith, reliance and trust in another whose aid, advice or protection is sought in some matter. In such a relation good conscience requires the fiduciary to act at all times for the sole benefit and interest of the one who trusts.
“A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to act for and on behalf of another in a particular matter in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust and confidence.”
A misdemeanor (also spelled misdemeanour) is any “lesser” criminal act in some common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions (also known as minor, petty or summary offences) and regulatory offences. Many misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines. Read More…
Power of Attorney:
A power of attorney (POA) or letter of attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter. The person authorizing the other to act is the principal, grantor, or donor (of the power). The one authorized to act is the agent or attorney or, in some common law jurisdictions, the attorney-in-fact. Formerly, a power referred to an instrument under seal while a letter was an instrument under hand, but today both are signed by the donor, and therefore there is no difference between the two. Read More…
A prenuptial agreement, antenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, commonly abbreviated to prenup or prenupt, is a contract entered into prior to marriage, civil union or any other agreement prior to the main agreement by the people intending to marry or contract with each other. The content of a prenuptial agreement can vary widely, but commonly includes provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce or breakup of marriage. They may also include terms for the forfeiture of assets as a result of divorce on the grounds of adultery; further conditions of guardianship may be included as well.
In some countries, including Belgium and the Netherlands, the prenuptial agreement not only provides for the event of a divorce, but also to protect some property during the marriage, for instance in case of a bankruptcy.
Receipt of probate is the first step in the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person’s property under a will. A probate court (surrogate court) decides the legal validity of a testator‘s will and grants its approval by granting probate to the executor. The probated will becomes a legal document that may be enforced by the executor in the law-courts if necessary. A probate also officially appoints the executor (or personal representative), generally named in the will, as having legal power to dispose of the testator’s assets in the manner specified in the will. Read More…
Real Property Law:
Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership and tenancy in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. In the civil law system, there is a division between movable and immovable property. Movable property roughly corresponds to personal property, while immovable property corresponds to real estate or real property, and the associated rights and obligations thereon.
The concept, idea or philosophy of property underlies all property law. In some jurisdictions, historically all property was owned by the monarch and it devolved through feudal land tenure or other feudal systems of loyalty and fealty. Read More…
In common law legal systems, a trust is a relationship whereby property (real or personal, tangible or intangible) is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust conventionally arises when property is transferred by one party to be held by another party for the benefit of a third party, although it is also possible for a legal owner to create a trust of property without transferring it to anyone else, simply by declaring that the property will henceforth be held for the benefit of the beneficiary. A trust is created by a settlor, who transfers some or all of his property to a trustee, who holds that trust property (also called the principal or corpus) for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Read More…
Will and Testament:
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his or her estate and provides for the distribution of his property at death. For the devolution of property not disposed of by will, see inheritance and intestacy.
In the strictest sense, a “will” has historically been limited to real property while “testament” applies only to dispositions of personal property (thus giving rise to the popular title of the document as “Last Will and Testament”), though this distinction is seldom observed today. A will may also create a testamentary trust that is effective only after the death of the testator. Read More…
Topic: Legal Glossary – Dick, Dick and Corey, LLP – Attorneys at Law in The Dalles, Oregon