Glossary of Legal Terms – E





This glossary should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is provided for general informational purposes only. To properly advise on any given situation requires a knowledge of the facts surrounding that situation. Laws and the statutory definitions of terms will vary from state to state. Specific questions should be directed to an attorney licensed in your state.

Early occupancy:   The condition in which buyers can occupy the property before the sale is completed.

Earnest money:   Money a buyer gives with an offer to purchase a property. Also called a deposit.

Earthquake insurance:   A policy that provides coverage against damage to a home from an earthquake.

Easement:   A right given to a third party to use a portion of the property for certain purposes, such as power lines or water mains.

Eaves:   The projecting overhang at the lower edge of a roof.

Effective age:   The age of a structure estimated by its condition rather than its actual age.

Effective gross income:   Additional income that a lender considers when assessing the loan application of a potential borrower.

Electric service panel:   A panel that transfers power from the utility line into a house to be distributed through fuses or circuit breakers.

Elements of a Crime: Specific factors that define a crime which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. The elements that must be proven are (1) that a crime has actually occurred, (2) that the accused intended the crime to happen, and (3) a timely relationship between the first two factors. Eminent

Elevations:   The exterior view of a home design that shows the position of the house relative to the grade of the land.

Eligible Survivor: A lawful spouse if living on the date a benefit payment is due. If the spouse is not living, the term means dependent children.

Ell:   An extension or wing of a house that is at right angles to the main structure.

Emancipated: Legally independent of one’s parent or legal guardian.

Eminent domain:   The government’s right to condemn private land for public use, such as the routing of a public highway.

Emotional Distress: Mental anguish.

Employee Verification Form: In a workers’ compensation case, it’s a bi-annual report of earnings to be completed by the injured employee. The form is required to be returned to the insurance carrier within 30 days of receipt or benefits may be stopped.

Employer-assisted housing:   Programs which help employees purchase homes through special plans developed with lenders.

Empty nesters:   Potential buyers who have raised their families and want to move into a smaller home.

En Banc: All the judges of a court sitting together. Appellate courts can consist of a dozen or more judges, but often they hear cases in panels of three judges. If a case is heard or reheard by the full court, it is heard en banc.

Enbrel: Medication for reducing signs and symptoms and delaying structural damage in patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis. Some patients treated with Enbrel are reported to have developed serious infections.

Encroachment:   Fences or other structures that extend into the property of another owner.

Encumbrance:   A claim or lien on a property which complicates the title process.

End loan:   The conversion from a construction loan to permanent financing a condominium buyer secures after all units in a project have been completed.

Endorsement: The signature on the back of a check or other negotiable instrument.

Endorser:   A person who signs over ownership of property to another party.

English Tudor style:   An architectural design that features stone or brick exterior walls and exposed beams.

Enjoining: An order by the court telling a person to stop performing a specific act.

Entrapment: A defense to criminal charges alleging that agents of the government induced a person to commit a crime he or she otherwise would not have committed.

Environmental impact statement:   A government-mandated evaluation of all aspects and effects a development will have on the environment of a proposed site.

Environmentally friendly home construction:   A method of construction that utilizes recycled materials.

Ephedra: Once used in a number of over-the-counter dietary supplements, Ephedra contains ephedrine, which acts as a stimulant and bronchodilator. While it may help those with asthma breathe, ephedrine poses significant health risks for the casual user. Ephedrine has been reported to contribute to heart attack, stroke, seizures, psychosis and death.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act. :   A federal law that prohibits a lender or other creditor from refusing to grant credit based on the applicant’s sex, marital status, race, religion, national origin or age. The law also prohibits a creditor from refusing to grant credit because the applicant receives public assistance.

Equal Protection of the Law: The guarantee in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that all persons be treated equally by the law. Court decisions have established that this guarantee requires that courts be open to all persons on the same conditions, with like rules of evidence and modes of procedure; that persons be subject to no restrictions in the acquisition of property, the enjoyment of personal liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which do not generally affect others; that persons are liable to no other or greater burdens than such as are laid upon others, and that no different or greater punishment is enforced against them for a violation of the laws.

Equifax:   Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc., is one of the “Big Three” credit-reporting bureaus that operate nationwide. Address:P.O. Box 740249,Atlanta,GA30374.

Equitable distribution: The fair, but not necessarily equal, division between former spouses of property acquired during the marriage.

Equitable Remedies: Remedies that do not include monetary settlements. Examples include injunctions and restraining orders.

Equity: The value of an asset over and above any encumbrances.

Equity:   A determination of the value of a property after existing liens are deducted.

Error: In the legal sense, a mistaken interpretation of facts or application of the law that can prove grounds for an appeal.

Errors and omissions insurance:   A policy that pays for any mistakes a builder or architect makes in a project.

Escheat (es-chet): The process by which a deceased person’s property goes to the state if no heir can be found.

Escrow: Money or a written instrument such as a deed that, by agreement between two parties, is held by a neutral third party (held in escrow) until all conditions of the agreement is met.

Escrow:   A neutral third party holds the documents and money involved in a real estate transaction and ensures that all conditions of a sale are met.. Escrow also refers to a speci

Established customary standard of care: Degree of care and skill that the average qualified doctor would provide to a patient who sought medical care for similar symptoms and circumstances.

Estate Tax: Generally, a tax on the privilege of transferring property to others after a person’s death. In addition to federal estate taxes, many states have their own estate taxes.

Estate: An estate consists of personal property (car, household items, and other tangible items), real property, and intangible property, such as stock certificates and bank accounts, owned in the individual name of a person at the time of the persons death. It does not include life insurance proceeds unless the estate was made the beneficiary) or other assets that pass outside the estate (like joint tenancy asset).

Estoppel: A person’s own act, or acceptance of facts, which preclude his or her later making claims to the contrary.

Et al: And others.

Evidence: Any type of proof presented at trial which has the effect or tendency to affirm or disaffirm the existence of a fact. Evidence is the means by which some fact in question is established or disproved. Evidence includes oral testimony and every other known means available to establish the truth or falsity of a disputed question of fact.

Ex Parte: On behalf of only one party, without notice to any other party. For example, a request for a search warrant is an ex parte proceeding, since the person subject to the search is not notified of the proceeding and is not present at the hearing.

Ex Post Facto: After the fact. The Constitution prohibits the enactment of ex post facto laws. These are laws that permit conviction and punishment for a lawful act performed before the law was changed and the act made illegal.

Examiner: A person appointed by the court to investigate the debtor usually in Chapter 11 case only.

Exception from discharge: A debt that is not allowed to be discharged in a bankruptcy case.

Exceptions: Declarations by either side in a civil or criminal case reserving the right to appeal a judge’s ruling upon a motion. Also, in regulatory cases, objections by either side to points made by the other side or to rulings by the agency or one of its hearing officers.

Exclusionary Rule: The rule preventing illegally obtained evidence to be used in any trial.

Exclusivity period: The period following the filing of a Chapter 11 petition, during which the debtor has the exclusive right to file a plan.

Execute: To complete the legal requirements (such as signing before witnesses) that make a will valid. Also, to execute a judgment or decree means to put the final judgment of the court into effect.

Executor: A personal representative, named in a will, who administers an estate.

Executory contract: A contract in which both parties have duties remaining to be satisfied

Exemplary Damages or Punitive Damages: Compensation greater than is necessary to pay a plaintiff for a loss. These damages are awarded because the loss was aggravated by violence, oppression, malice, fraud or wanton and wicked conduct on the part of the defendant. Such damages are intended to punish the defendant for his evil behavior or make an example of him or her.

Exempt Property: In bankruptcy proceedings, this refers to certain property protected by law from the reach of creditors.

Exhibit: A document or other item introduced as evidence during a trial or hearing.

Exonerate: Removal of a charge, responsibility or duty.

Expert Witness: Witness with specialized training or experience who is permitted to render opinion testimony in a legal proceeding.

Expungement: Official and formal erasure of a record or partial contents of a record.

Extenuating Circumstances: Circumstances which render a crime less aggravated, heinous, or reprehensible than it would otherwise be.

Extradition: The process by which one state or country surrenders to another state, a person accused or convicted of a crime in the other state.