Glossary of Legal Terms – I





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.

Illness Period: For insurance purposes, this normally begins when covered expenses are incurred.

Immunity: Exemption from prosecution granted to a witness to compel answers to questions which otherwise could be withheld because of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.

Impact fees:   Fees collected from developers of new homes to pay for schools, parks and other facilities.

Impaneling: Selecting a jury from the list of potential jurors.

Impeach: Attacking the credibility of a witness.
Impeachment of a Witness: An attack on the credibility (believability) of a witness, through evidence introduced for that purpose.

Impleader: A procedure whereby a third party may be brought into a lawsuit by a defendant who is being sued by a plaintiff.

Implied warranty of habitability:   Court cases which determined that all new homes are assumed to be fit for human habitation and meet all building codes.

Implied: Where the intention of the parties is not shown by direct terms but derived from surrounding circumstances or conduct.
In Camera Inspection: Judge’s private inspection of a document prior to his or her ruling on its admissibility or use at trial.
In Camera Proceedings: Trial or proceeding in a place not open to the public, usually in a judge’s chambers.

Impounds:   A portion of the monthly mortgage payment that is placed in an account and used to pay for hazard insurance, property taxes and private mortgage insurance.

In cumbrance: See Encumbrance.

In Forma Pauperis: In the manner of a pauper. Permission given to a person to sue without payment of court fees on claim of indigence or poverty.

In Propria Persona: In court’s it refers to persons who present their own case without lawyers. See Pro Se.

Inadmissible: That which, under the rules of evidence, cannot be admitted or received as evidence.

Incapacity: Lack of sufficient legal, physical or intellectual power to perform an act.

Incarcerate: To confine in jail.

Income property:   Property that is not occupied by the owner but is used to generate income.

Incompetence: The inability or lack of legal qualification or fitness to discharge the required duty.

Incurable defect:   A defect in a property that cannot be fixed, such as an adjacent hazardous waste site, or that would cost too much to repair relative to the value of the property.

Indemnify: To restore the victim of a loss, either in whole or in part, by payment of money or repair or replacement of the thing lost.

Indenture: A deed to which several persons are parties, in which each assumes corresponding obligations.

Independent Executor: A special kind of executor, permitted by the laws of certain states, who performs the duties of an executor without intervention by the court.

Indeterminate Sentence: A sentence of imprisonment to a specified minimum and maximum period of time, specifically authorized by statute, subject to termination by a parole board or other authorized agency after the prisoner has served the minimum term.

Index:   Financial tables used by lenders to calculate interest rates on adjustable mortgages and on Treasury bills.

Indictment: A written accusation by a grand jury charging a person with a crime.

Indigent: Needy or impoverished. A defendant who can demonstrate his or her indigence to the court may be assigned a court-appointed attorney at public expense.

Indispensable Party: One who has interest in the subject matter of litigation which is of such a nature that a final decree cannot be entered or rendered without such person being made a party to the lawsuit.

Individual Retirement Account:   Tax-deferred savings accounts that allow people to accrue retirement funds.

In-file credit report:   Computer-generated reports drawn from credit repositories that are generally regarded as objective histories.

Infill development:   Any significant new construction in an established area.

Infill housing:   Home construction in established areas.

Inflation:   This event occurs when there is more money available than there are goods and services to be purchased. Mortgage rates, which are determined by the marketplace and the actions of the Federal Reserve Board and Wall Street, are sensitive to inflation fears.

Information: Accusatory document, filed by the prosecutor, detailing the charges against the defendant. An alternative to an indictment, it serves to bring a defendant to trial.

Informed Consent: Consent given after full disclosure of constitutional and other legal rights which impact on whether consent would be given.

Infraction: A violation of law not punishable by imprisonment. Minor traffic offenses generally are considered infractions.

Infrastructure:   The roads, schools, parks, utilities, bridges and communications systems in a community.

Infringement: The unauthorized use, sale or manufacture of an invention, trademark, trade-name or copyright.

Inheritance Tax: A state tax on property that an heir or beneficiary under a will receives from a deceased person’s estate. The heir or beneficiary pays this tax.

Initial Appearance: In criminal law, the hearing at which a judge determines whether there is sufficient evidence against a person charged with a crime to hold him or her for trial. The Constitution bans secret accusations, so initial appearances are public unless the defendant asks otherwise; the accused must be present, though he or she usually does not offer evidence. Also called first appearance.

Initial interest rate:   The original interest rate on an adjustable mortgage.

Injunction: Writ or order by a court prohibiting a specific action from being carried out by a person or group. A preliminary injunction is granted provisionally, until a full hearing can be held to determine if it should be made permanent.

Inquest: An inquiry by a coroner into the manner of death in a possible

Insolvent: When the total debt of an entity is greater than all of its property.
Instructions: Judge’s explanation to the jury before it begins deliberations of the questions it must answer and the applicable law governing the case. Also called charge.

Inspection report:   An examination of a home’s exterior, foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical system, heating, air conditioning, fireplace, kitchen, bathroom, roofing and interior.

Installment contract:   A purchase agreement in which the buyer does not receive title to the property until all installments are paid.

Insulation:   Materials including cellulose, glass fiber, rock wool, polystyrene, urethane foam and vermiculite that slow heat loss.

Insurable Interest: A real and financial interest in property or the life of another sufficient to support and justify ownership of an insurance policy.

Insurable title:   Title to property that a company agrees to insure against defects and disputes.

Insurance binder:   A temporary insurance arrangement usually put in force until a permanent policy can be obtained.

Insurance:   Owners and buyers can purchase various types of insurance: hazard, private mortgage and earthquake. The policies guarantee compensation for specific losses.

Intangible Assets: Nonphysical items such as stock certificates, bonds, bank accounts, and pension benefits that have value and must be taken into account in estate planning.

Intangible Personal Property: Money, evidence of debt, evidence of ownership, and all other forms of property where the value is based upon that which the property represents other rather than its own intrinsic value (e.g., mortgages, shares of stock, bonds, notes).

Intellectual property: Intellectual Property, or IP, is the group of legal rights to things people create or invent. Intellectual property rights typically include patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret rights.

Intent: The state of mind necessary to support a criminal proceeding against a defendant; the knowing performance of an act.
Intention Tremors: As a person with ataxic cerebral palsy reaches for an object or attempts to perform an act (such as putting on a shoe), the body part that he or she is moving may begin to tremble. Intention tremors become stronger as the person reaches the object.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: – Intentionally causing severe emotional distress by extreme or outrageous conduct.

Inter Vivos Gift: A gift made during the giver’s life.

Inter Vivos Trust: Another name for a living trust.

Interest accrual rate:   The rate at which interest accrues on a mortgage.

Interest rate buy-down plans:   For cash-short buyers, some sellers are willing to advance funds from the sale of the home to buy down the interest rate and reduce the buyer’s monthly obligation.

Interest rate caps:   A limit on the amount that can be charged to the monthly payment of an adjustable-rate mortgage during an adjustment period.

Interest rate ceiling:   The highest interest a lender can charge for an adjustable-rate mortgage.

Interest rate:   The sum, expressed as a percentage, charged for a loan. Interest payments on most home loans are tax- deductible.

Interest:   The fee borrowers pay to obtain a loan. It is calculated based on a percentage of the total loan.

Interest-only loan:   The pays only the interest that accrues on the loan balance each month. Because each payment goes toward interest, the outstanding balance of the loan does not decline with each payment.

Interlocutory: Provisional; not final. An interlocutory order or an interlocutory appeal concerns only a part of the issues raised in a lawsuit.

Interpleader: An action filed by a party faced by competing claims against property in his possession but which he does not own, requesting the court to determine relative rights to the property.

Interrogatories: A form of discovery in which one party submits a series of written questions to the other party, and to which the latter is bound to answer under oath.

Intervention: An action by which a third person who may be affected by a lawsuit is permitted to become a party to the suit. Differs from the process of becoming an amicus curiae.

Intestacy Laws: See descent and distribution statutes.

Intestate Succession: The process by which the property of a person who has died without a will passes on to others according to the state’s descent and distribution statutes. If someone dies without a will, and the court uses the state’s intestate succession laws, an heir who receives some of the deceased’s property is an intestate heir.

Intestate: Dying without a will.

Investment property:   Real estate that generates income, such as an apartment building or a rental house.

Invitee: A person is an invitee on land if he enters land by invitation; his entry is connected with business being conducted on the land by the possessor of land; and the possessor of land is benefited by the entry.

Involuntary bankruptcy: A chapter 7 or chapter 11 case initiated by a debtor’s creditors rather than by the debtor.

Involuntary Movement: Movement that is not under the control of the brain. The movement is caused by electrical stimulation of the muscle, and in individuals with cerebral palsy, the involuntary movement happens so often that it interferes with their ability to function.

Ipso Facto: By virtue of the mere fact of itself.

Irrelevant: Not material. Irrelevancy forms the basis of an objection to the introduction of evidence asserting that the proposed evidence is not connected to the issue being decided.

Irreparable Injury: An injury of such a nature that it cannot be redressed in a court of law and is not susceptible to complete monetary compensation. Generally when a wrongful act has caused or will cause an irreparable injury, the courts will issue an injunction prohibiting the action.

Irrevocable Trust: A trust that once set up, the grantor may not revoke.

Irrevocable: That which cannot be revoked or undone.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A condition of abnormally increased spontaneous movement (motility) of the small and large intestine, generally stress can contribute to this condition.

Ischemic Colitis: An inflammation caused by interference with the blood flow to the large intestine. This lack of blood flow leads to death of tissue.
Issue: (1) The disputed point in a disagreement between parties in a lawsuit. (2) To send out officially, as in to issue an order.