Glossary of Legal Terms
Following are terms and definitions related to the private investigation industry:
Abstract - Abbreviated transcription of a document or record that includes the date of the record, every name appearing therein, the relationship (if stated) of each person named and their description (i.e. witness, executor, bondsman, son, widow, etc.), and if they signed with their signature or mark.
Ad litem - Legal term meaning in this case only. For example, "George Thomas, duly appointed by the court, may administer ad litem the settlement of the estate of Joseph Thomas, deceased."
A court action used to settle the estate of a person who died without leaving a left a will, or a person who left a will that the court disallowed, or where the executor appointed by the deceased refuses to serve in that capacity.
AdulterySee the Definition of Adultery
AffidavitA written or oral statement made under oath. See the definition of Definition of Affidavit
Also known as; alias.
AlienA citizen of another country.
AlimonySee the Definition of Alimony
AncestryDenotes all of your ancestors from your parents as far back as they are traceable. Estimates suggest that everyone has approximately 65,000 traceable ancestors, meaning ancestors whose existence can be documented in surviving records.
Anti-TerrorismRefers to acts which prevent terrorism (such as passenger screening at airports)
Grant of property or a legal right, benefit, or privilege to another person.
AuthenticateProve a document is not a forgery.
A birth record contains information about the birth of an individual. On a birth record, you can usually find the mother's full maiden name and the father's full name, the name of the baby, the date of the birth, and county where the birth took place. Many birth records include other information, such as the birthplaces of the baby's parents, the addresses of the parents, the number of children that the parents have, and the race of the parents, and the parents' occupations.
- Birth records
Laws concerned with civil or private rights and remedies, as contrasted with criminal law; body of law established by a nation, commonwealth, county or city, also called municipal law.
- Civil law
Counter-TerrorismThe take down of a terrorist stronghold or freeing of hostages held.
DeedDocument transferring ownership and title of property.
DetectiveA person, usually a member of a police force, who investigates crimes and obtains evidence or information.
DirectoriesDirectories come in all types: city, telephone, county, regional, professional, religious, post office, street, ethnic, and school. The directories you search will depend on the type of information you know about the individual. The information that you can find in a directory depends on the type of directory. For example, city directories normally list names and addresses. In some city directories you can also find information such as children's names, marriage dates, death dates, and birth dates. Other types of directories may provide you with even more interesting information about your ancestors. For instance, a church directory may tell you about an individual's involvement in church activities, professional directories may give you insight into your ancestor's professional life, and club directories may contain information about your ancestor's involvement in social activities.
EstateAssets and liabilities of a decedent, including land, personal belongings and debts.
et alLatin - meaning "and others."
EvidenceAny kind of proof, such as testimony, documents, records, certificates, material objects, etc.
GenealogyThe study of one's ancestry; summary history or table of a person's ancestry.
GrantorPerson selling, granting, transferring or conveying property.
GuardianPerson lawfully appointed to care for the person of a minor, invalid, incompetent and their interests, such as education, property management and investments.
HeirPerson who succeeds, by the rules of law, to an estate upon the death of an ancestor; one with rights to inherit an estate.
IllegitimateA child born to a woman who is not married to the father.
In testateTerm used to denote a person who died without leaving a will.
LesseePerson leasing property from an owner.
LessorOwner leasing property to a tenant.
Claim placed on property by a person who is owed money.
Notices of suits pending litigation, usually in matters concerning land.
- Lis pendens
LitigantPerson involved in a lawsuit.
In place of the parent or parents.
- Loco parentis
- Marriage records
A marriage record contains information about a marriage between two individuals. On a marriage record, you can at least find the bride's and groom's full names, the date of the marriage, and county where the marriage took place. Many marriage records include other information, such as the names and birthplaces of the bride's and groom's parents, the addresses of the bride and groom, information about previous marriages, and the names of the witnesses to the marriage.
- Military records
The US government has always kept records on all military and civilian workers. Most of these files have very detailed information, such as the individual's name, their spouse's name, date of birth, place of residence, which wars the individual served in, their military organization (Navy, Marines, or Army), when the individual's service began and ended, where and when the individual died, and where the individual was buried.
A person under legal age; historically, the legal age differed from place to place and over time. (Check prevailing law to determine the legal age requirement at a specific time.)
- Power of attorney
Written instrument where on persons, as principal, appoints someone as his or her agent, thereby authorizing that person to perform certain acts on behalf of the principal, such as buying or selling property, settling an estate, representing them in court, etc.Private Investigator
A person privately hired to do investigative or detective work. Also called private detective, private eye.Probate
Legal process used to determine the validity of a will before the court authorizes distribution of an estate; legal process used to appoint an someone to administer the estate of someone who died without leaving a will.
- Probate records
Probate records are records disposing of a deceased individual's property. They may include an individual's last will and testament, if one was made. The information you can get from probate records varies, but usually includes the name of the deceased, either the deceased's age at the time of death or birth date, property, members of the family, and the last place of residence
Land and anything attached to it, such as houses, building, barns, growing timber, growing crops, etc.
- Real property
- Social Security Death Index -
The Social Security Death Index is an index of Social Security Death records. Generally this includes names of deceased Social Security recipients whose relatives applied for Social Security Death Benefits after their passing. Also included in the millions of records are approximately 400,000 railroad retirement records from the early 1900s to 1950s.Soundex
Phonetic indexing system.Statute
Died leaving a valid will.Vital records - Birth, marriage, and death records.
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