A.L.T.A. - American Land Title Association.
Ab Initio - From the beginning.
Ab Initio Mundi - From the beginning of the world.
Abandonment - The surrender, relinquishment, disclaimer,
or cession of property or of rights to property.
Abatement - A reduction, a decrease, or a diminution.
Abstract - A brief summary.
Abstract of Title - A summary of the conveyances,
transfers and other facts appearing of record and relied upon as
evidence of title to real property.
Abutting - Touching or bordering a street, highway, or
other public place.
Acceleration Clause - A clause in a note, trust deed, or
mortgage advancing or hastening the date of maturity of the
indebtedness or obligation upon the happening of a certain
Access Right - A landowner's right to have ingress to and
egress from the property to a public street.
Accession - Addition to property by natural increase or
growth or by installation of improvements.
Accommodation - An obligation assumed without
Accommodation Party - A person who signs a promissory
note without receiving value.
Accommodation Recording - The recordation of an
instrument without consideration and without assumption of
responsibility for correctness or validity.
Accretion - A process by which land on a shore or
riverbank increases gradually by the deposit of sand or soil upon
the shore or riverbank.
Accrual - The growing or adding to.
Acknowledgment - A formal declaration before a duly
authorized officer by a person who has executed an instrument that
such execution is his or her act and deed.
Action - An ordinary proceeding in a court of justice by
which one party prosecutes another for the enforcement or
protection of a right; the redress or prevention of a wrong; or,
the punishment of a public offense.
Action in Personam - An action in which judgment is
sought against a person.
Action in Rem - An action in which judgment is sought
against property to determine its status.
Actual Notice - Notice in fact or in reality to or by a
party directly and personally.
Ad Curiam - Before the court; to the court.
Ad Litem - During the pendency of the action or
Ad Valorem - According to value.
Adjoining Owners - Owners of two or more parcels of real
property that are contiguous to each other.
Adjudication - A judicial determination.
Administrator - Personal representative of the estate of
an intestate decedent.
Administrator C.T.A. - An administrator with will annexed. The letters C.T.A. mean "cum testamento annexo" and are derived from Latin. If administration is granted but the decedent has made an incomplete will without naming executor(s) or if decedent names incapable persons or if executor(s) refuses to act, the administrator is an 'Administrator C.T.A.'
Administrator D.B.N. - Administrator of property upon
which no administration has been had. The letters D.B.N. mean "de
bonis non" and are derived from Latin.
Advances - Money paid before proper time of payment.
Adverse Possession - Claim of ownership of property based
upon open and hostile possession and occupancy.
Affiant - A person who has made an affidavit.
Affidavit - A written declaration under oath.
Affirmation - A declaration in writing under penalty of
After-Acquired Title - Title accepted by a grantor after
his or her previous conveyance.
Agency - A relationship between two or more persons
whereby one is authorized to act for another.
Agreement of Sale - An agreement entered into for the
sale and purchase of property.
AKA - Also Known As
Alienate - To transfer title to property.
Alienation - The transfer of title to property.
Alienation Clause - Provision in a note or in a security
instrument calling for automatic maturity in the event of sale or
transfer of title by borrower.
Allegation - A statement of fact in a pleading yet to be
Alluvion - Soil deposited by the process of
Amortization - Payment of principal and interest at
stated periods for a stated time until debt is extinguished.
Ancillary - An addition to.
Ancillary Administration - Probate estate administration
in a state other than the state of decedent's domicile.
Annexation - Addition to property or to territory.
Annuity - A yearly payment of money for life or for a
term of years.
Annum - Year.
Ante - Before.
Antenuptial - Before marriage.
Appearance - Presence of a party litigant before the
Appraisal - Statement of value.
Appraiser - A person qualified to determine property
Appurtenance - Anything incidental to or belonging to
land considered a part of the real property.
Appurtenant - Belonging to.
Assessed Value - Value of property for taxation
Assessments - Special taxes imposed to pay for public
improvements beneficial to a limited area.
Assessor - County official who determines value of
property for taxation purposes.
Assets - Property of value, property having an economic
Assign - To transfer all of an interest in personal
Assignee - One to whom property is assigned.
Assignor - One who transfers property by assignment.
Assumpsit - An undertaking to do an act or to make
Assumption Agreement - An agreement to undertake a debt
or obligation contracted by another.
Assumption Fee - The charge made by a lender when a buyer
assumes seller's existing loan.
Assumption of Mortgage - An agreement in which buyer
agrees to be liable for payment of an existing note secured by a
mortgage or deed of trust.
Attachment - A judicial process by which a creditor
obtains a lien upon property of a debtor prior to adjudication of
Attestation Clause - The clause in a deed denoting the
subscribing persons are witnesses.
Attorn - To accept and acknowledge a new landlord.
Attorney-In-Fact - An agent authorized to act for
Avulsion - Sudden tearing away of land by violent action
of a river or other watercourse.
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Balloon Payment - Final installment payment of a
promissory note larger than any single preceding installment
Bankruptcy - A proceeding in U.S. Bankruptcy Court
wherein assets of a debtor (unable or unwilling to pay debts) are
applied by an officer of the court in satisfaction of creditor
Base Lines - Imaginary east-west lines that intersect
meridians to form a starting point for measurement of land.
Bench Mark - Location indicated on a durable marker by a
Beneficiary - One for whose benefit a trust is created.
Benevolent Associations - Voluntary nonprofit
aggregations organized for the benefit of members.
Bequeath - To give personal property by will.
Betterment - Substantial improvement to real
Binder - Written agreement to issue, within a specified
time, a policy of title insurance. Contract to insure.
Blanket Mortgage or Deed of Trust - A mortgage or deed of
trust on more than one lot or parcel.
Blue Sky Law - A law (generally of a state) protecting
the public from investing in fraudulent companies. Usually requires
full disclosure of risks associated with investment before the
investment entity puts investor's monies at risk.
Bona Fide - In good faith.
Bona Fide Purchaser - A purchaser in good faith, for fair
value and without notice of any adverse claim or right of third
Bond - A written undertaking to pay a certain sum of
Bonded Debt - An indebtedness secured by a bond
Building Contract - Agreement for the construction of a
Building Lines - Lines established by ordinance or by
statute beyond which building is not permitted.
By-Law - A rule adopted for the internal government of a
corporation or unincorporated association.
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C.C. - Civil Code.
C.C.P. - Code of Civil Procedure.
c.t.a. - With will annexed.
Capita - Heads; persons.
Caption - The heading of a title or document.
Cause - An action or a suit.
Caveat - Let him/her beware.
Caveat Emptor - Let the buyer beware.
Certificate of Sale - Evidence of a purchaser's
acquisition of legal title at a judicial sale, subject to
redemption rights, if any.
Certificate of Title - Certified statement as to land
ownership based upon examination of record title.
Certiorari - A writ from a higher court to a lower court
directing the forwarding of a certified record of a proceeding up
Cestui Que Trust - The person for whose benefit property
is held in trust.
Cestui Que Use - The person for whose use land was
granted to another.
Cestui Que Vie - The person for the duration of whose
lifetime an estate has been granted.
Chain of Title - A chronological list of documents
comprising the record history of title to a specific parcel of real
Change of Venue - The removal of a cause for trial from
one county to another.
Chattel - An item or article of personal property.
Chattel Mortgage - Obsolete name for mortgage of personal
Chattel Real - An interest in real estate which is of a
lessor degree than a freehold estate. For example, an estate at
Chose in Action - A personal right not reduced to
possession but recoverable by an action at law.
Civil Law - Law of the Roman Empire, it is distinguished
from the Common Law of England.
Class Action - A lawsuit in which plaintiff represents
himself or herself and all other persons similarly situated.
Clearing House - An office where bankers daily settle the
balance of their accounts with each other.
Cloud on Title - A semblance or claim of title that is in
Co-Administrator - One of two or more administrators.
Co-Executor - One of two or more executors.
Co-Insurance - Insurance issued by two or more
Co-Trustee - One of two or more trustees.
Code - A collection of laws.
Codicil - A testamentary disposition subsequent to a will
altering, explaining, adding to, subtracting from, or confirming
it, but not revoking it.
Collateral - Property pledged as security for a debt;
also, indirect, when referenced to blood relationship as in
Collateral Assignment - Transfer of an interest in
personal property for security purposes. A collateral assignment is
distinguished from an absolute assignment mainly because once the
debt is paid that was secured by the collateral assignment, the
assignment is extinguished.
Color of Title - That giving the appearance of title.
Commitment - A pledge, promise, or firm agreement; also,
a title insurer's contractual obligation to insure title to real
Common Law - The unwritten body of English law founded
upon customs and precedents.
Competent - Legally qualified, capable of
Conclusive Presumption - Legal inference that cannot
Condemnation - The taking of private property for a
public use. The exercise of power of eminent domain.
Condition - A qualification or restriction annexed to a
conveyance of lands, whereby it is provided that upon the happening
of a particular event an estate shall commence, be enlarged, or be
Condition Precedent - A condition that must be fulfilled
before a right accrues or an estate vests.
Condition Subsequent - A condition that defeats a
previously accrued right or vested estate.
Conditional Sale Contract - Contract of sale where title
remains in seller until all conditions of the contract have been
Condominium - The composite of individual ownership and
exclusive possession of a cube of space in a multiunit building
plus a collective ownership of and a collective right of possession
to facilities common to all separately owned units.
Confession of Judgment - Entry of judgment without
formality of proceedings upon debtor's admission and with debtor's
Confirmation of Sale - Court approval of sale by a
personal representative, guardian, or conservator.
Congressional Grant - A grant of public land of the
United States by an act of Congress.
Conservatee - A person unable to manage self, property,
or self and property and for whom the probate court has appointed a
Conservator - A person appointed by probate court to take
care of the person, property, or person and property of
Consideration - The value inducing another person to
enter into a contract.
Constructive - Inferred or implied.
Constructive Notice - Notice given by public records.
Constructive Trust - Trust imposed by law to redress a
wrong or to prevent unjust enrichment.
Contiguous - In actual close contact; touching, adjacent,
Contingent - Dependent upon an uncertain future
Contingent Beneficiary - A person who may share in an
estate or trust depending upon the happening of an event.
Contingent Interest - An interest which may vest
depending upon the happening of an event.
Contour - Surface configuration of land.
Contract - An agreement between two or more parties to
do, or not to do a particular act.
Contract of Sale - An agreement entered into for the sale
and purchase of property.
Convey - To transfer title to property from one person to
Conveyance - A written instrument transferring title to
or an interest in land.
Corp. Code - Corporations Code.
Corporate Seal - A seal attached to an instrument
executed by a corporation.
Corporation - An artificial being created by law and
endowed with certain rights, privileges, and duties of natural
Corporation Sole - A corporation consisting of a single
person and his/her successor in office.
Corporeal Hereditaments - Substantial permanent objects
which may be inherited.
Corpus - Property comprising the assets of a trust.
Cotenancy - Ownership by two or more persons.
Courses and Distances - Description of land by metes and
Covenant - Agreement or promise.
Curtesy - The common law interest of a husband in estate
of deceased wife.
Custodia Legis - In the custody of the law.
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d.b.n. - Abbreviation for de bonis non, See:
d.d. - Abbreviation for "days after date."
D.S. - Abbreviation for "declaratory statement."
Date Down - The date a title examination is to be brought
down to from the date of the last examination. Generally the date
of recording of instruments and documents in the Recorder's
De - From; of; concerning.
De Facto - In fact.
De jure - By right.
Decedent - Deceased person.
Declaration of Homestead - A formal, written, recorded
assertion by an owner that the dwelling in which he or she resides
is exempt from forced sale.
Declaration of Trust - A written instrument by a person
(settlor-trustor), acknowledging that he or she holds title to
property (as trustee) for the benefit of another or others
Decree - A judgment by court.
Decree of Distribution - A judgment of probate court as
to persons entitled to the property of a decedent. [Now referred to
as 'Order for Distribution']
Dedication - Donation of land by owner for public
Deed - Written document transferring title to land from
one person to another.
Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure - The deed purchased by the
mortgagee from the mortgagor in lieu of the foreclosure of the
mortgagee's mortgage. The mortgagor grants the title to the
property secured by the mortgage to the mortgagee (lender) in lieu
of lender foreclosing the mortgage.
Deed of Sale - Evidence of a purchaser's acquisition of
legal title at a judicial sale, subject to redemption rights, if
Deed of Trust - A three party security instrument
conveying title to land as security for the performance of an
obligation. Also called "trust deed."
Default - Omission or failure to fulfill a duty, observe
a promise, discharge an obligation, or perform an agreement.
Default Judgment - A judgment against a defendant who
made no appearance in court.
Defeasance Clause - The provision of a mortgage giving
the mortgagor the right to redeem the property upon satisfaction of
the obligation it secures.
Defeasible - Subject to being defeated, annulled,
Deficiency Judgment - A personal judgment against the
debtor for the amount remaining due after foreclosure of a security
device, as in the case of a mortgage or trust deed.
Defunct - Deceased, dead.
Demand - An escrow term describing the consideration
exacted for a conveyance or for the relinquishment of an interest
in or a right to property.
Demise - A transfer of an estate for years, for life, or
Demurrer - The formal mode of disputing the sufficiency
in law of an opponent's pleading.
Deponent - A witness; an affiant.
Deposition - Testimony of a witness taken upon
interrogatories, not in open court.
Depository Statement - Instructions accompanying the
deposit of documents, instruments, or property.
Deraign - To trace, to prove.
Descent - Manner of succession to title to property of an
Description - Written instrument by which title to land
is transferred to a trustee as security for repayment of a debt or
performance of an obligation.
Devise - The disposition of land by will.
Devisee - A person to whom real property is given by
Dictum - An opinion by a judge on a point not essential
to the decision on the main issue. (Plural form is "dicta.")
Dies - A day.
Diluvian - The gradual washing away and loss of soil
along the banks of a river.
Disseisin - Dispossession; ouster.
Divest - To deprive of a right or title to property.
Documentary Transfer Tax - A tax on certain recorded
transfers of title to real property.
Domicile - Fixed and permanent home.
Domiciliary Administrator - Administrator of estate of a
decedent appointed by probate court of the state of decedent's
Dominant Tenement - The land benefited by an appurtenant
Dona - Gift.
Donee - Person to whom gift is made.
Donor - Person who makes a gift.
Dower - The common law interest of a wife in estate of
Dragnet Clause - Provision in a security instrument
making the security instrument applicable to all past and present
obligations between debtor and creditor.
Due-on-Sale Clause - Provision in a security instrument
calling for automatic maturity in the event of sale or transfer of
title by borrower.
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Earnest Money - Something given as a part of the purchase
price to bind a bargain.
Easement - A limited right or interest in the land of
another entitling the holder to some use, privilege, or
Easement Appurtenant - An easement created for the
benefit of and attaching to a parcel of land.
Easement in Gross - An easement created for the benefit
of a person rather than for a parcel of land.
Ejectment - Legal action for return of right to
possession of land and for damages.
Eminent Domain - The right to take private property for
Emptor - A buyer.
Encroachment - The extension of an improvement onto land
Encumbrance - A right or interest in land decreasing its
value but not hindering its sale or transfer.
Endorsement - The act of signing a name on the back of a
check or promissory note to evidence its transfer; also, a written
document attached to an insurance policy expanding or limiting
Enfeoff - To vest a person with fee title to land.
Entirety - A form of cotenancy in which owners are
jointly seized of the whole.
Equitable Lien - A lien recognized in a court of
Equitable Title - The right to acquire legal title.
Equity - Natural right or justice based upon ethics and
Equity in Property - The value of a person's interest in
property over and above total liens and charges.
Equity of Redemption - The right to redeem property after
a judicial sale.
Erosion - The gradual eating away of soil by natural
Escalator Clause - Provision for upward or downward
adjustment of costs, expenses, rents, etc.
Escheat - A forfeiture of title to the state.
Escrow - A transaction in which an impartial third party
acts upon instructions for both seller and buyer, or for both
borrower and lender, in carrying out instructions, delivering
papers and documents and, disbursing funds.
Estate - The degree, quantity, nature, and extent of a
person's interest in real property.
Estate at Will - Possessory right of a tenant for an
indefinite period terminable by either landlord or tenant upon
Estate for Life - Estate measured in time by the
uncertain duration of a person's lifetime.
Estate for Years - Estate measured for a certain,
definite, or fixed period of time.
Estate of Inheritance - An estate extending beyond the
owner's lifetime which is succeeded to by heirs or by devisees.
Estate Tax - A tax upon the privilege of transmitting
title to property of a decedent.
Estoppel - A bar to the assertion of a right or a defense
in consequence of previous position, act, or representation.
et Al. - And others.