Glossary of Legal Terms – T





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.

Tangible Property: Property that may be felt or touched (as distinct from a debt or property right).

Tangible Personal Property Memorandum (TPPM): A legal document that is referred to in a will and used to guide the distribution of tangible personal property.

Tasmar: A drug used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease. There have been reports of fatal liver injury associated with use of Tasmar.

Technical Errors: Errors committed during a trial that have not prejudiced the losing party’s rights and therefore are not grounds for reversal on appeal.

Temporary Relief: Any form of action by a court granting one of the parties an order to protect its interest pending further action by the court.

Temporary Restraining Order: A judge’s order forbidding certain actions until a full hearing can be held. Usually of short duration. Often referred to as a TRO.

Tender: An unconditional offer to pay or to perform a contractual obligation.

Terminal Illness: A medical condition which is expected to result in a person’s death within six (6) months; no recovery expected.

Termination of parental rights: A judicial declaration that a parent shall no longer have a right to participate in decisions affecting the welfare of the child.

Testamentary Capacity: The legal ability to make a will.

Testamentary Trust: A trust set up by a will.

Testate: Having a valid will.

Testator/Testatrix: Male or female who makes or has a will.

Testimony: Evidence delivered by a witness at trial either orally at trial or in the written form of an affidavit or deposition.

Thalidomide: A medicine that was used as a sleep aid and for treatment of morning sickness during pregnancy. It was later discovered that thalidomide causes birth defects and fetal death.

Thimerosal: A preservative that was used in many vaccines. It is suspected that an ingredient in Thimerosal may cause mercury poisoning.

Third Party: A person, business, or government agency not actively involved in a legal proceeding, agreement, or transaction.

Third Party Beneficiary: A person who receives an intended or incidental benefit by virtue of a contract to which he or she is not a party and for which he or she has paid no consideration.

Third Party Benefit: In insurance law, third party benefits refer to the amount of available coverage that the at-fault party has in bodily injury and property damage.

Third Party Claim: An action by the defendant that brings a third party into a lawsuit.

Third Party Lawsuit: In workers’ compensation law, when an injury is caused by the act or failure to act of a party other than the employer, that party is the “third party,” and the injured worker may file a lawsuit against that party. An example of a third party lawsuit in workplace injury would be a products liability suit against the manufacturer of a defective tool.

Third Party litigation: When a lawsuit is brought against a defendant and that defendant wants to add another party to the suit, the original defendant may file a “third party complaint” which results in a third party litigation or lawsuit.

Thrombotic Stroke: Occurs when a blood clot forms in an artery and blocks blood flow to the brain.

Time is of the Essence: A contract term that fixes the time of performance and establishes such time as being critical, so that failure to perform within such time will constitute a default.

Tipstaff: Court-appointed officer whose duty it is to serve the judge in a variety of ways while court is in session. See bailiff.

Title: Legal ownership of property, usually real property or automobiles.

Tort: A private or civil wrong that results in an injury; a breach of the duty of care causing damage; a negligent act.

Tortfeasor: One who commits a tort.

Tortious: Having the quality of a tort; the wrongdoer.

Total Disability: In a workers’ compensation case, this is the compensation paid when an injured employee is totally impaired due to a work-related injury. Benefits at the total disability rate are generally two-thirds of wages up to a maximum compensation rate

Trade Name: The name under which a person does business, and which identifies the business.

Trade Secret: Any formula, process, plan or mechanism developed and utilized in conjunction with one’s business which is kept private or secret in order to obtain an advantage over competitors.

Trademark: Any mark, word, or design affixed to goods or products which authenticates them.

Transcript: Official written copy of proceedings in a case, including hearings, depositions, and trial. Usually made by a court reporter.
Traumatic Brain Injury: An insult to the brain caused by an external physical force that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness that results in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning and/or a disturbance of behavioral or emotional functioning.

Treble Damages: Damages established by statute, most commonly applicable to anti-trust violations, whereby the plaintiff receives an award of three times the amount of actual damages.

Trespass: Wrongful interference with the use of the property of another.

Trespasser: In civil law, a person who enters land without invitation, permission or privilege.

Trial: A formal presentation of facts to a court or jury in order to reach a legal resolution.

Trial Calendar: List maintained by the clerk of court or the trial judge of cases awaiting trial, which includes trial dates, names of attorneys representing parties, and other such information.

Trial Court: The first court to hear the case, as opposed to an appellate court which hears appeals of decisions made in trial courts.

Trust: A legal device used to manage real or personal property, established by one person (the grantor or settlor) for the benefit of another (the beneficiary). A third person (the trustee) or the grantor manages the trust.

Trust Agreement or Declaration: The legal document that sets up a living trust. Testamentary trusts are set up in a will.

Trustee: A duly authorized agent or fiduciary who holds title to property for the benefit of another person; the administrator of a trust.

Title:   The actual legal document conferring ownership of a piece of real estate.

Title company:   Firms that ensure that the title to a piece of property is clear and provide title insurance.

Title insurance:   A policy issued to lenders and buyers to protect any losses because of a dispute over the ownership of a piece of property.

Title risk:   Possible impediments to the transfer of a title from one owner to another.

Title search:   A check of public title records to ascertain that the seller is the legal owner and that there are no claims or liens against the property.

Top producer:   A real state industry term that refers to agents and brokers who sell a high volume of homes.

Top soil:   The top layer of soil that is removed when lots are graded in preparation for construction.

Total expense ratio:   The percentage of monthly debt obligations relative to gross monthly income.

Townhouse:   An attached home that is not a condominium.

Tract home:   Another term for a production home, a mass-produced house constructed by one builder in a project.

Trade equity:   Other real estate or assets a buyer gives to a seller as part of the down payment.

Trading down:   A reference to buyers who purchase a home that is less expensive than their current house.

Trading up:   A reference to buyers who purchase a home that is more expensive home than their current house.

Transfer of ownership:   Any legal means by which a piece of real estate changes hands.

Transfer tax:   An assessment by state or local authorities at the time a piece of property changes hands.

Transom:   A small hinged window directly above a door.

Trans-Union:   Trans-Union Corp. is one of the “Big Three” credit-reporting bureaus that operate nationwide.

Tray ceiling:   A tray ceiling has edges that slant toward the middle from the walls.

Treasury bills:   Securities issued by the Treasury Department that have the full backing of theU.S. government.

Treasury index:   An index used to determine interest rate changes for adjustable rate mortgages.

Trellis:   A decorative landscape structure made of thin strips of wood or plastic.

Trim work:   The finishing of doors, doorways, window frames and floors.

Truss:   A prefabricated framework of girders, struts and other items used to support a roof or other load-bearing elements.

Trust account:   Special accounts used by brokers and escrow agents to safeguard funds for a buyer or seller.

Trustee:   A legally empowered person who holds or controls a piece of property for another person.

Truth-in-Lending Act:   A federal law that protects consumers in a variety of ways. One of its key provisions allows a consumer to cancel a home-improvement loan, second mortgage or other loan if the home was pledged as security (except for a first mortgage or first trust deed) untilmidnight of the third business day after the contract was signed.

Tuck-point:   The process of removing old mortar from between bricks and replacing it with new mortar.

Two-step mortgage:   An adjustable mortgage with two interest rates, one for the first five or seven years of the loan, and the other for the remainder of the loan term.

Two- to four-family property:   A piece of property that is owned by one person but provides housing for up to four households.

Tap fees:   Most companies charge a tap fee for hooking up utilities.

Tax deduction:   A tax break given by the government. Mortgage interest, loan points and property taxes can be deducted.

Tax lien:   An impediment placed against a property, such as back taxes.

Tax sale:   The public sale of a property by the government for nonpayment of taxes.

Tax shelter:   A term often applied to real estate investment and refers to various tax advantages.

Tear-down condition:   A house that requires the entire interior to be rebuilt.

Teaser rate:   An low, short-term rate offered on a mortgage to entice the borrower.

Tenancy by the entirety:   When a married couple owns a home, it is usually considered tenancy by the entirety If the property must be sold to pay the debts of one spouse, both must agree.

Tenants in common:   Two or more owners who share interest in a specific property.

Terrace:   A terrace can be several things: an unroofed paved area right next to a house; a roofed balcony; a veranda; or a raised bed of earth constructed to enhance a landscape.

The 72-hour clause:   When a buyer has a house to sell before they can purchase another home, most sellers insist on a 72-hour clause. In the event of a better offer coming in before the contingency is settled, this clause entitles the seller to give the buyer 72 hours to remove the contingency or lose the house.

Third-party origination:   In a third-party origination transaction, the lender has another institution originate all or part of a mortgage.

Timeshare:   Ownership that involves the acquisition of a specific period of time, or that percentage of interest, in a vacation home or resort.