Glossary of Legal Terms – G





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.

Gable roof   A ridged roof that forms a triangle at each end.

Gable   A triangular wall enclosed by the sloping ends of a ridged roof or a triangular decorative feature.

Gag rules   A provision in contracts signed by new buyers that prohibits the owners from publicizing complaints about the builder.

Gait: How an individual walks. Normal gait requires the proper functioning of the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system.

Gambrel roof   A roof with two slopes, often seen on barns.

Gap period: The time between the filing of an involuntary petition and adjudication that the debtor is a “bankrupt.”

Garnishment: A legal proceeding in which a debtor’s money, in the possession of another (called the garnishee), is applied to the debts of the debtor, such as when an employer garnishes a debtor’s wages.

General contractor   The person who hires all of the subcontractors and suppliers for a project.

General Jurisdiction: Refers to courts that have no limit on the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear.

General plan   A government’s long-range land-use plan.

Geodesic dome   A structure constructed of lightweight bars forming a grid of polygons.

Georgian style   Popular throughout the 18th century, this type of architecture is distinguished by a symmetrical facade, prominent front entrance and quoins-decorative blocks of masonry or wood set in the corners of the house.

Gift   A cash gift a buyer receives from a relative or other source. Lenders usually require a “gift letter” stating that the money will not have to be repaid.

Gingerbread decoration   An intricate, almost lacy, wood trim.

Girders   Crossbeams that support floor joists.

Good Faith: The general requirement to deal honestly with others and not seek to gain unfair advantage or to defraud another party, especially in the context of business transactions or contracts.

Good Time: A reduction in sentenced time in prison as a reward for good behavior. It usually is one third to one half off the maximum sentence.

Good-faith estimate   An estimate from an institutional lender that shows the costs a borrower will incur, including loan-processing charges and inspection fees.

Government National Mortgage Association   Commonly known as Ginnie Mae, this agency buys home loans from lenders, pools them with other loans and sells shares to investors. Ginnie Mae differs from its cousins, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in that it only purchases loans backed by the federal government.

Grace period   A specified amount of time to make a loan payment after its due date without penalty.

Grace Period: The period during which insurance continues to be in force despite a delayed payment of premium.

Grade level   The flat or sloping surface upon which a house is built.

Grade   The elevation of land above level ground.

Graduated-payment mortgage (GPM)   A mortgage that requires a borrower to make larger monthly payments over the term of the loan. The payment is unusually low for the first few years but gradually rises until year three or five, then remains fixed.

Grand Jury: A jury convened to hear evidence and determine whether an indictment (criminal charge) should be issued. Grand Juries have investigative and subpoena powers.

Granny flat   Slang term for a separate unit in a house or above the garage, which in the past may have been occupied by an elderly relative.

Grantee   A person conveyed an interest in a piece of property.

Grantor or Settlor: The person who sets up a trust.

Grantor   The person who conveys an interest in a piece of property to another person.

Greek Revival style   A style introduced in theU.S. at the end of the 18th century. Its most prominent feature is a pillar-anchored pediment forming a portico in the front of the house.

Greenbelt   Any stretch of park, open space or other natural setting in a community.

Gross income   The total income of a household before taxes or expenses are subtracted.

Gross Negligence: Intentional failure to perform a manifest duty in reckless disregard of the consequences to another person’s life or property. There is no clear distinction between gross negligence and willful negligence.

Ground fault circuit interrupter   Devices that detect leakage of electrical current to the ground and prevent accidental shock.

Ground rent   The amount of money paid for the use of a piece of property when it is a leasehold estate.

Grounds: Acceptable reasons for seeking a particular result.

Group home   A single-family residence used as a living space for unrelated, developmentally disabled or mentally disabled people.

Growing-equity mortgage   A fixed rate mortgage that increases payments over a specific period of time. The extra funds are applied to the principal.

Guarantee mortgage   A loan guaranteed by a third party, such as a government institution.

Guarantor: A person or entity who agrees in writing to pay the indebtedness of another.

Guardian Ad Lietem: One appointed by a court in which litigation is pending to represent a ward (e.g., a minor or incompetent).

Guardian: A person appointed by will or by law to assume responsibility for incompetent adults or minor children. If a parent dies, this will usually be the other parent. If both die, it probably will be a close relative.

Guardianship: Legal right given to a person to be responsible for the food, housing, health care, and other necessities of a person deemed incapable of providing these necessities for him or herself. A guardian also may be given responsibility for the person’s financial affairs, and thus perform additionally as a conservator. (See also conservatorship.)

Gutters   Horizontal channels installed at the edge of a roof to carry rainwater or melted snow away from the house.