I

I-94 Card
A small green or white card given to all nonimmigrants when they enter the United States. The I-94 card serves as evidence that a nonimmigrant has entered legally. It is stamped with a date indicating how long the nonimmigrant may stay for that particular trip. (It is this date--and not the expiration date of the visa -- that must be followed in determining when the immigrant must leave.) A new I-94 card with a new date is issued each time the nonimmigrant legally enters the United States. Canadian visitors are not normally issued I-94 cards.

i.e.
An abbreviation for id est-- Latin for "that is" --and used to expand or explain a general term. For example, "his children (i.e., Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Joan)." It should not be confused with "e.g." which means "for example."

IEP
See: individualized education program

IIRIRA
See: Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act

Illegal
Against or not authorized by the law. Also called illicit or unlawful.

Illegal Immigrant
See: undocumented immigrant

Illegal Immigration Reform And Immigration Responsibility Act
An anti-illegal immigration bill amending the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), IIRIRA covered everything from border control to penalties on immigrants and employers who violate the immigration laws to allowable benefits for immigrants. Many immigrants were affected by new three- and ten-year bars to admissibility for having been "unlawfully present" in the United States (having entered without any inspection or overstayed a nonimmigrant visa). New vaccination requirements for immigrants were also added. The Act also prevented certain immigrants -- including some with green cards -- from receiving government benefits such as Social Security. Applying for asylum also became more difficult under IIRIRA, as applicants were required to apply within a year after entering the United States and were refused work permits until their cases had been granted.

Illicit
Unlawful or prohibited. For example, the laws may make it a crime to engage in "illicit trade" or possess "illicit drugs." Compare: licit

Illusory Promise
A promise that pledges nothing, because it is vague or because the promisor can choose whether or not to honor it. Such promises do not create contracts and are not legally binding.

Immaterial
1) In court, a commonly heard objection to introducing evidence in a trial on the ground that it had nothing substantial to do with any issue in the case. 2) In a lawsuit, a matter that has no bearing on the issues in dispute.

Immediate Relative
Although the common meaning of this is a close family relation, it has a more specific meaning in immigration law. Immediate relatives are a category of prospective immigrants who include a U.S. citizen's spouse, minor children (under the age of 21), and parents (so long as the citizen is at least 21 years old). Immediate relatives have an immediate right to apply for U.S. permanent residence (assuming their U.S. family member agrees to start the process on their behalf) -- unlike more distant relatives, they aren't subject to yearly limits on the numbers who can apply for permanent residence.

Immigrant Visa
A type of U.S. visa that a U.S. consulate or embassy issues to people who have just qualified for U.S. permanent residence (a "green card"). The immigrant visa enables the holder to enter the United States, take up permanent residence, and receive his or her green card.

Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE)
This agency of the Department of Homeland Security handles enforcement of the immigration laws within the U.S. borders; for example, by going to workplaces and checking for undocumented workers.

Immigration And Naturalization Service (INS)
Formerly, the federal agency in the Department of Justice that administered and enforced immigration and naturalization laws. In 2003, however, the INS officially ceased to exist, and its functions were taken over by various branches of the Department of Homeland Security.

Immunity
Exemption from penalties, payments, or legal requirements, granted by authorities or statutes. Generally there are four types of immunity at law: 1) a promise not to prosecute for a crime in exchange for information or testimony in a criminal matter, granted by the prosecutors, a judge, a grand jury, or an investigating legislative committee; 2) public officials' protection from liability for their decisions (like a city manager or member of a public hospital board); 3) governmental (or sovereign) immunity, which protects government agencies from lawsuits unless the government agreed to be sued; 4) diplomatic immunity which excuses foreign ambassadors from most U.S. criminal laws.

Impairs An Exemption
When a lien, in combination with other liens and the amount a debtor may claim as exempt, exceeds the value of property. For example, if a debtor's home is worth $200,000, the debtor is entitled to a $35,000 homestead exemption, and the home is subject to a mortgage of $150,000, a lien that exceeds $15,000 impairs the debtor's homestead exemption: Once the mortgage was paid off, there wouldn't be enough equity left to pay both the exemption and the lien.

Impanel
To select a jury and assign the jury to decide a court case.

Impaneling
The act of selecting a jury from a list of potential jurors.

Impeach
1) To discredit, for example, to show that a witness is not believable -- perhaps because the witness made statements that are inconsistent with present testimony, or has a reputation for not being a truthful person. 2) The process of charging a public official, such as the U.S. president or a federal judge, with a crime or misconduct, which results in a trial by the senate to determine whether the official should be removed from office.

Impeachment
See: impeach

Impleader
A procedure in which one party brings a third party into a lawsuit. Usually a defendant initiates the proceeding to show that the third party is liable to the plaintiff. Compare: interpleader

Implied
Circumstances, conduct, or statements which substitute for explicit language to prove authority to act, warranty, promise, or consent, among other things.

Implied Consent
Consent when surrounding circumstances exist that would lead a reasonable person to believe that this consent had been given, although no direct, express, or explicit words of agreement had been uttered. For example, implied consent to a contract can be inferred when one person has been performing on the contract, and the other person has accepted the first person's performance without objecting or complaining.

Implied Contract
A contract that is found to exist even when its terms are not explicitly stated because 1) the parties assumed a contract existed (implied-in-fact contract), or 2) denying the contract's existence would result in unjust enrichment to one of the parties (implied-in-law contract). Compare: express contract

Implied Covenant Of Good Faith And Fair Dealing
An implied obligation that assumes that the parties to a contract will act in good faith and deal fairly with one another without breaking their word, using shifty means to avoid obligations, or denying what the other party obviously understood.

Implied Warranty
A guarantee that is not written down or explicitly spoken. (See also: implied warranty of merchantability, implied warranty of fitness, implied warranty of habitability)

Implied Warranty Of Fitness
A warranty implied by law that, if a seller knows or has reason to know a buyer will use property for a specific purpose, the property is suitable for that purpose. For example, if a buyer tells a seller he wants to purchase a watch suitable for deep sea diving, the seller can violate the implied warranty by selling the buyer a watch that isn't waterproof and depth-tolerant.

Implied Warranty Of Habitability
A legal doctrine that requires landlords to offer and maintain livable premises for their tenants. If a landlord fails to provide habitable housing, tenants in most states may legally withhold rent or take other measures, including fixing the problem and deducting the cost from the rent, or moving out. (See also: constructive eviction)

Implied Warranty Of Merchantability
A warranty implied by law that property is fit for the ordinary purpose for which it is used.

Impossibility
When an act cannot be performed due to physical impediments, nature, or unforeseen events. It can be a legitimate basis to rescind (mutually cancel) a contract.

Impotence
A man's inability to copulate. Impotence can be grounds for annulment of a marriage if the condition existed at the time of the marriage and is grounds for divorce in some states.

Impound
In a criminal proceeding, when the court or police take possession of personal property. The property may be returned to the owner at the end of the proceeding or it may be forfeited to the state (for example, in the case of illegal drugs).

Imprison
To put a person in prison or jail or otherwise confine him or her as punishment for committing a crime.

Improvement
As applies to real estate, any permanent structure or work (such as planting trees) on real property, which increases its value or extends its useful life. As defined by the IRS, an addition to or alteration of a capital asset, which either increases its value or extends its useful life.

Impute
1) To attach or ascribe. 2) To place responsibility or blame on one person for acts of another person because of a particular relationship, such as mother to child, guardian to ward, employer to employee, or business associates. Example: a child's negligence in driving a car without a license may be imputed to the parent. 3) To attribute knowledge to a person because of the person's relationship to the one actually possessing the information. Example: if one partner in a business is informed of something, that knowledge is imputed to other partners. (See also: vicarious liability)

In Absentia
(in ab-sen-shah) Latin for "in absence," or more fully, in one's absence.

In Camera
Latin for "in chambers." A legal proceeding is in camera when a hearing is held before the judge in private chambers or when the public is excluded from the courtroom. Proceedings are often held in camera to protect victims and witnesses from public exposure, especially if the victim or witness is a child.

In Chambers
Discussions or hearings held in the judge's office, called his or her chambers. (See also: in camera)

In Extremis
Facing imminent death.

In forma pauperis
(in form-ah paw-purr-iss) Latin for "in the form of a pauper." A party to a lawsuit who cannot afford the court costs and fees can ask that they be waived (forgiven) in order to proceed "in forma pauperis."

In haec verba
(in heek verb-ah) Latin for "in these words," or verbatim. This is often used when stating the exact language of an agreement within a complaint or other pleading rather than attaching a copy of it.

In Lieu
Instead of. For example, a "deed in lieu of foreclosure" is a deed to a house offered to the lender by the homeowner so that the lender will not foreclose.

In limine
(In lim-in-ay) From Latin for "at the threshold," referring to a request made to the judge before a trial begins, such as a request to exclude evidence.

In loco parentis
(In loh-coh par-ent-iss) Latin for "instead of a parent" or "in place of a parent." People or institutions that stand in loco parentis to a child might be a foster parent, a county custodial agency, or a boarding school.

In Pari Delicto
(in pah-ree dee-lick-toh) Latin for "in equal fault." In a lawsuit, it refers to situations where the parties are equally at fault or guilty of wrongdoing. They may thus be prevented from collecting damages from the others.

In perpetuity
Forever -- for example, one may have the right to keep the profits from land in perpetuity.

In personam
(in-purr-soh-nam) Latin for "against a person." In a lawsuit against a specific person, this concept means the defendant must be served with a summons and complaint to give the court jurisdiction to try the case, and the judgment the court applies to that person only. Compare: in rem

In pro per
See: pro per

In propria persona
See: pro per

In re
Latin for "in the matter of." Used in legal documents to refer to a case, particularly a case without an opposing party. For example, "In re Estate of Ruth Bentley" might be used to refer to a probate case about the estate of Ruth Bentley.

In Re Gault (1967)
The U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that juvenile criminal defendants are entitled to due process protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Among other things, due process protection includes the right to timely notice of criminal charges, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, the right not to testify against oneself, and the right to counsel (representation by a lawyer).

in rem
Latin for "against or about a thing," referring to a lawsuit or other legal action directed toward property, rather than toward a particular person. Thus, if title to property is the issue, the action is "in rem." The term is important since the location of the property determines which court has jurisdiction, and enforcement of a judgment must be upon the property and does not follow a person.

In Terrorem Clause
(in te-ror-em) Latin meaning "in fear." This phrase is used to describe provisions in contracts or wills meant to scare a person into complying with the terms of the agreement. For example, a will might state that an heir will forfeit an inheritance if the heir challenges the validity of the will. Of course, if the will is challenged and found to be invalid, then the clause itself is also invalid, and the heir takes whatever he or she would have inherited if there were no will. Also called a terrorem clause or a no-contest clause.

In Toto
Latin for in its entirety or completely. For example, if a judge accepts a lawyer's argument in toto, it means that the judge accepts the whole thing.

In-House Counsel
See: house counsel

In-Kind
Refers to payment, distribution, or substitution of goods or services in lieu of money. Used in wills and trusts, it empowers the executor or trustee to distribute property "in kind" to beneficiaries -- that is regardless of whether the property is money, goods, or services -- as long as property in the correct value is given to each beneficiary.

In-Kind Income
See: in-kind support and maintenance (ISM)

In-Kind Support And Maintenance (ISM)
Shelter or food provided to an SSI recipient. The value of ISM is considered income. An SSI recipients monthly grant is reduced dollar for dollar by the total value of the ISM received in a month, up to a certain amount. Also called in-kind income.

Inadmissible
In immigration law, being ineligible to enter the United States (or obtain any type of visa or green card) because one matches one of the grounds of inadmissibility found at Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212, or 8 U.S. Code Section 1182. Commonly applied grounds of inadmissibility include having a criminal record, a history of certain immigration law violations, being without a source of financial support, or having a communicable disease.

Inadmissible Evidence
Testimony or other evidence that fails to meet state or federal court rules governing the types of evidence that can be presented to a judge or jury. The main reason evidence is ruled inadmissible is because it falls into a category deemed so unreliable that a court should not consider it as part of a deciding a case --for example, hearsay evidence or an expert's opinion that is not based on facts generally accepted in the field. Evidence will also be declared inadmissible if it suffers from some other defect -- for example, as compared to its value, it will take too long to present or risks inflaming the jury. In addition, in criminal cases, evidence that is gathered using illegal methods is commonly ruled inadmissible.

Inalienable
Not transferable; impossible to take away.

Incapacitated
1) Lacking the physical or mental abilities to manage one's own personal care, property, or finances. 2) Lacking the ability, due to illness or injury, to perform one's job.

Incapacity
1) A lack of physical or mental abilities that results in a person's inability to manage his or her own personal care, property, or finances. 2) A lack of ability to understand one's actions when making a will or other legal document. 3) The inability of an injured worker to perform his or her job. This may qualify the worker for disability benefits or workers' compensation. 4) Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the inability to work, attend school, or perform other regular daily activities due to a serious health condition, treatment for the condition, or recovery from the condition.

Incentive Stock Option (Iso)
An option to purchase stock (usually given to senior employees) which provides favorable tax treatment for the option holder, as long as certain holding period requirements are met. If the holding period requirements are met, the options are not taxable at the time they are granted or exercised, and any profit is taxed at long-term capital gains rate instead of ordinary income rates.

Incest
Sexual contact between close blood relatives, including brothers and sisters, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, or aunts or uncles with nephews or nieces; 18 states also include copulation or cohabitation between first cousins in the definition of incest. Incest is a crime in all states, even if consensual by both parties.

Inchoate
Something that has begun but has not been completed, such as a potential crime for which all the elements have not been accomplished, or a contract that has not been formalized.

Incidental Beneficiary
Someone who benefits as the result of a contract or trust but is not a direct, intended beneficiary. For example, a neighbor might benefit from a homeowner's contract with a tree service, and children might benefit if their parent receives distributions from a trust.Compare: third-party beneficiary

Incidents Of Ownership
Any control over property. If you give away property but keep an incident of ownership -- for example, you give away an apartment building but retain the right to receive rent -- then legally, no gift has been made. This distinction can be important if you're making large gifts to reduce your eventual estate tax.

Income
Money, goods, or other economic benefit received. Under income tax laws, income can be active through one's efforts or work, or passive from rentals, stock dividends, investments, and interest on deposits in which there is neither physical effort nor management. For tax purposes, income does not include gifts and inheritances received. Taxes are collected based on income by the federal government and most state governments.

Income In Respect Of Decedent
Any income a deceased person would have received, had he or she lived.

Income Statement
See: profit and loss statement

Income Tax
A tax on an individual or a corporation's net income after deductions for various expenses and payments, such as charitable gifts or business expenses. There is a federal income tax and most states assess income tax but at a lower rate than the federal government.

Incompatibility
A conflict in personalities that makes married life together impossible. In a number of states, incompatibility is the accepted reason for a no-fault divorce. (See also: irreconcilable differences)

Incompatible
Unable to live together as husband and wife due to irreconcilable differences. If one spouse desires to end the marriage, that fact proves incompatibility, and a divorce will be granted even though the other spouse does not want a divorce.

Incompetence
1) The inability or lack of qualifications to do something -- for example, perform a job duty or testify at a trial. 2) The inability, as determined by a court, to handle one's own personal or financial affairs.

Incompetency
See: incompetence

Incompetent
1) Unable to manage one's affairs due to mental incapacity or sometimes physical disability. Incompetence can be the basis for the appointment of a guardian or conservator to handle the incapacitated person's affairs. 2) In criminal law, unable to understand the nature of a trial, and therefore not qualified to stand trial or testify. 3) A general reference to evidence that is not admissible at trial.

Incompetent Evidence
Evidence that is inadmissible because it's irrelevant or immaterial to the issues in the lawsuit. See also: inadmissible evidence

Incorporate
To create a corporation by submitting articles of incorporation for an organization, which may be a profit-making business or a nonprofit entity that operates for charitable, social, religious, or educational purposes. The process includes having one or more incorporators file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State or Division of Corporations, appoint a board of directors, hold a first meeting of the board of directors to launch the enterprise, and issue stock according to state laws and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Incorporate By Reference
In documents, to include language from another document by referring to it (rather than repeating it). For example: Plaintiff incorporates by reference all of the allegations contained in the First and Second Causes of Action set forth above.

Incorporation
The act of incorporating an organization. (See also: incorporate)

Incorporator
Any person who joins in incorporating a company; specifically, a person who files the articles of incorporation or certificate of incorporation for a new corporation.

Incorporeal
A thing that is not physical, such as a right. Also called intangible. Compare: corporeal

Incorporeal Ownership
Not ownership of a thing, but ownership in a right related to a thing. For example, if you own piece of land, that is corporeal ownership. But if you own a right of way on that piece of land, that is incorporeal ownership. (See also: corporeal ownership)

Incriminate
To suggest, charge, accuse, show, or admit involvement in a crime.

Incumber
See: encumber

Incumbrance
See: encumbrance

Incurable Insanity
A legal reason for obtaining a divorce. It is rarely used, however, because of the difficulty of proving both the insanity of the spouse being divorced and that the insanity is incurable.

Indecent Exposure
Revealing one's genitals under circumstances likely to offend others. Exposure is indecent under the law whenever a reasonable person would or should know that his act may be seen by others--for example, in a public place or through an open window--and that it is likely to cause affront or alarm. Indecent exposure is considered a misdemeanor in most states.

Indefeasible
Incapable of being altered or voided, usually used to describe an absolute interest in real estate that cannot be changed.

Indefeasible Remainder
A vested remainder that cannot be undone. Compare: defeasible remainder

Indemnify
To guarantee against a loss or damage that another might suffer.

Indemnity
An agreement to compensate another party for loss or damage.

Indenture
1) Generally, any written agreement between two parties. 2) A real estate deed in which two parties agree to continuing obligations; for example, one party may agree to maintain the property and the other to make periodic payments. 3) In finance, a written agreement that describes the borrowers' responsibility to the lenders in a bond or debenture issue and states the maturity date and the interest rate; also called a bond indenture.

Independent Contractor
A legal category of worker that is distinct and different from an employee. The key to the definition is that, unlike employees, independent contractors retain control over how they do their work. Employers are not required to withhold and pay federal, state, and Social Security (FICA) taxes on behalf of independent contractors, as they must do for employees.

Independent Trustee
A trustee who is not related to the beneficiary of the trust and does not stand to inherit any property under the trust. Independent trustees are preferred when family members are likely to disagree over management of the trust. However, independent trustee's fees are usually higher than those charged by a family member.

Indeterminate Sentence
A prison sentence that consists of a range of years (such as "five to ten years"). The state parole board holds hearings that determine when, during that range, the convicted person will be eligible for parole. The principle behind indeterminate sentences is the hope that prison will rehabilitate some prisoners; those who show the most progress will be paroled closer to the minimum term than those who do not. Compare: determinate sentence

Index
A market-sensitive interest rate that determines interest-rate changes on adjustable-rate mortgages and other variable rate loans. Common indices include the six-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the Federal Home Loan Bank 11th District Cost of Funds (COFI), and the prime rate as listed in The Wall Street Journal.

Indicia
(in-dish-eeh-yah) From Latin for "signs," or "to point out." Indications or marks suggesting that something is probable. Used, for example, in the terms "indicia of title" and "indicia of partnership."

Indictable Offense
A crime that the prosecutor can charge by bringing evidence of it to the grand jury. These are serious crimes that include murder, manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, grand theft, robbery, burglary, arson, conspiracy, and fraud, as well as attempts to commit them.

Indictment
A grand jury's conclusion that a serious crime has occurred, and that it is reasonably probable that the defendant committed it. Prosecuting attorneys may generally choose how to charge a crime: by indictment or by using a criminal complaint. To proceed by way of indictment, the prosecutor will show the grand jury enough evidence to persuade them that the target of the investigation should be brought to trial. The target does not have a right to be present, and the proceeding is not public. By contrast, a criminal complaint is followed by a preliminary hearing, at which the defendant is present and where the defendant can question opposing witnesses and call witnesses of his own. When prosecutors want to charge someone but reveal as little as possible of their case and evidence, they often choose the indictment option. (See also: indictable offense)

Indigent
Impoverished, or unable to afford the necessities of life. A defendant who is indigent has a constitutional right to court-appointed representation, according to a 1963 Supreme Court decision, </>Gideon v. Wainright.

Indispensable Party
A person or entity (such as a corporation) that must be included in a lawsuit in order for the court to render a final judgment. For example, if a person sues his neighbors to force them to prune a tree that poses a danger to his house, the lawsuit must name all owners of the relevant property.

Individual Retirement Account (Ira)
A retirement plan established by an individual that allows annual contributions of income and provides some tax advantages.

Individualized Education Program
The process provided under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to evaluate the educational needs of and develop an academic plan for students with disabilities. It refers both to 1) the meetings where the school district determines whether or not a child is eligible for special education services and if so, the plan for the coming year, and 2) the annual detailed written description of the program and services to help children with special needs succeed in school.

Indorse
See: endorsement (indorsement)

Indorsement
See: endorsement

Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel
Representation of a criminal defendant, at trial or on appeal, by a court-appointed lawyer or a retained lawyer, that involved errors that were so serious that they resulted in the denial of a fair trial. Most errors do not rise to the level of ineffective assistance, though some are (such as failing to investigate the defendant's background in a death-penalty case, where the evidence might have led jurors to impose a sentence of life without parole instead of death).

Infancy
1) Very early childhood. 2) The period of a person's life when they have not reached legal majority or adulthood.

Inference
A conclusion arrived at by logically drawing on known facts -- as in, if A and B are true, then C is.

Information
The name of the document, sometimes called a criminal complaint or petition, in which a prosecutor charges a criminal defendant with a crime, either a felony or a misdemeanor. The information tells the defendant what crime he or she is being charged with, as well as against whom and when the offense allegedly occurred. However, the prosecutor need not go into great detail. A defendant who wants more specifics must ask by way of a discovery request. Compare: indictment

Information And Belief
Language used in legal proceedings to qualify a statement and prevent a claim of perjury. A person making a statement based on information and belief often lacks personal knowledge as to the statement but has a belief that the information is correct. In effect, the person is saying, "I am only stating what I have been told, and I believe it."

Informed Consent
An agreement to do something or to allow something to happen, made with complete knowledge of all relevant facts, such as the risks involved or any available alternatives. For example, a patient may give informed consent to medical treatment only after the health care professional has disclosed all possible risks involved in accepting or rejecting the treatment. A health care provider or facility may be held responsible for an injury caused by an undisclosed risk. In another context, a person accused of committing a crime cannot give up his constitutional rights -- for example, to remain silent or to talk with an attorney -- unless and until he has been informed of those rights, usually via the well-known Miranda warnings.

Infra
Latin for "below," this is legal shorthand to indicate that the details or citation of a case will come later in the document, such as a legal brief.

Infraction
A minor violation of law commonly punishable by a fine -- for example, a traffic or parking ticket. Compare: misdemeanor

Infringement
1) Violation or breach of a legal right, contract, or statute. 2) Unauthorized use of a patent, copyright, or trademark. (See also: infringement (of copyright), infringement (of utility patent), infringement (of trademark))

Infringement (Of Copyright)
The unauthorized violation of a copyright owners exclusive rights in a work. Common examples include the illicit distribution of software or music, the adaptation of anothers work in one medium (such as a book or play) for use in another medium (such as a movie or CD-ROM), or the unauthorized public performance of a recording or film.

Infringement (Of Trademark)
Unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark (or a substantially similar mark) on competing or related goods and services. The success of a lawsuit to stop the infringement turns on whether the defendant's use causes a likelihood of confusion in the average consumer. If a court determines that confusion is likely, the owner of the original mark can prevent the second user's use of the infringing mark and sometimes collect damages.Compare: dilution

Infringement (Of Utility Patent)
The unauthorized manufacture, sale, or use of (a) a literal copy of a patented invention, or (b) an invention that performs substantially the same function in substantially the same manner as a patented invention. (See also: doctrine of equivalents)

Ingress
An entrance, or the act of entering. Compare: egress

Inherit
To receive property from someone who has died. Traditionally, the word "inherit" applied only when one received property from a relative who died without a will. Currently, however, the word is used whenever someone receives property from the estate of a deceased person.

Inheritance
Property received upon the death of a relative due to the laws of descent and distribution.

Inheritance Tax
A tax some states impose on people or organizations who inherit property from a deceased person. The tax rate depends on the inheritor's relationship to the deceased person; typically, spouses or children pay no tax, but less closely related inheritors do pay inheritance tax. Compare: estate tax

Inheritors
Persons or organizations who receive property from someone who dies.

Inheritance Tax
A tax some states impose on people or organizations who inherit property from a deceased person. The tax rate depends on the inheritor's relationship to the deceased person; typically, spouses or children pay no tax, but less closely related inheritors do pay inheritance tax. Compare: estate tax

Inheritors
Persons or organizations who receive property from someone who dies.

Injunction
A court decision commanding or preventing a specific act, such as an order that an abusive spouse stay away from the other spouse or that a logging company not cut down first-growth trees. Courts grant injunctions to prevent harm--often irreparable harm--as distinguished from most court decisions, which are designed to provide a remedy for harm that has already occurred. Injunctions can be temporary, pending a consideration of the issue later at trial (these are called interlocutory decrees or preliminary injunctions). Judges can also issue permanent injunctions at the end of trials.

Injunctive Relief
A court-ordered act or prohibition against an act that has been requested in a petition to the court for an injunction. Usually injunctive relief is granted only after a hearing at which both sides have an opportunity to present testimony and legal arguments.

Injury
Harm done to a person by the acts or omissions of another. Injury may be physical or may involve damage to reputation, loss of a legal right, or breach of a contract.

Inlining
The process of incorporating a graphic file from one website onto another website. For example, inlining occurs if a user at site A can, without leaving site A, view a cartoon-of-the-day featured on site B.

Innocent
A term that is often mistakenly equated to a plea of "not guilty." Innocence is not a legal term, but rather a philosophical, moral, or religious expression of nonresponsibility. By contrast, a not guilty plea simply means that the defendant is demanding that the prosecutor prove every part of the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Many defendants who plead (and are found by the jury to be) not guilty are probably not innocent under any reasonable understanding of that term. Instead, the prosecutor may have simply failed to produce enough compelling evidence, failing to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Innocent Spouse Rule
An Internal Revenue Service rule that says that a spouse who unknowingly signs a fraudulent joint tax return prepared by the other spouse can be excused from having to pay penalties on that return.

Innuendo
From Latin innuere, "to nod toward." In law it means an indirect hint. In defamation cases, defendants sometimes use innuendo when making a comment about the person suing. For example, if there is only one living ex-mayor, the statement "the former mayor is a crook" uses innuendo.

Inquest
A coroner or medical examiner's investigation or hearing into a suspicious death. A jury hearing may be held under some circumstances.

INS
See: Immigration and Naturalization Service

Insanity
See: criminal insanity

Insanity Defense
The claim of a defendant in a criminal prosecution that he or she was insane when the crime was committed, and therefore should not be held accountable. (See also: diminished capacity, McNaghten rule)

Insertion
The addition of language into an existing typed or written document (generally initialed by all parties to the document).

Insider
Someone who has a position in a business or stock brokerage, which allows him or her privy to confidential information (such as future changes in management, upcoming profit and loss reports, secret sales figures, and merger negotiations) which will affect the value of stocks or bonds. Use of such confidential information unavailable to the investing public in order to profit through sale or purchase of stocks or bonds is unethical and a crime under the Securities and Exchange Act

Insider Trading
The use of confidential information about a business gained through employment in a company or a stock brokerage, to buy or sell stocks and bonds based on the private knowledge that the value will go up or down. The victims are the unsuspecting investing public. It is a crime under the Securities and Exchange Act.

Insolvency
1) Generally, the state of having more debts than assets or being unable to pay debts as they come due. 2) For tax purposes, when a person who has had a debt cancelled still has more debts than assets. Someone who is insolvent even after a debt is cancelled does not have to pay income tax on the amount of the cancelled debt.

Inspection Of Documents
The process of examining and copying documents in the possession of an opposing party in a lawsuit.

Installment Agreement
An agreement between the IRS and a taxpayer that allows the taxpayer to pay unpaid federal taxes under a monthly payment plan.

Installment Contract
An agreement in which performance is done in installments. For example, where payments of money, delivery of goods, or performance of services are to be made in a series of payments, deliveries, or performances, usually on specific dates or upon certain happenings.

Installment Credit
Credit that is granted on the condition that it will be repaid in two or more payments, usually scheduled at regular intervals. Many consumers purchase goods such as cars or large appliances "on installment," meaning that they repay the creditor the price of the goods, plus interest, over time.

Installment Sale
A sale where the purchaser of an asset or business pays the seller over several years. This allows the capital gain, and thus the capital gains tax, to be spread over several years rather than all be in the year of the sale.

Instruction
See: jury instruction

Instrument
A written legal document such as a contract, lease, deed, will, or bond.

Insufficient Evidence
Evidence so inadequate that a court will find that the prosecution or plaintiff has no basis upon which to proceed, and will most likely dismiss the case.

Insurance
A contract in which the insured pays a fee to the insurance company, and in exchange, the insurance company agrees to pay the beneficiary of the policy a given amount if specific events occur. For example, life insurance pays a beneficiary on the death of the insured, auto insurance pays the beneficiary if the insured gets into an auto accident, and health insurance pays for health care if the insured gets sick. There are many, many kinds of insurance including: life insurance, auto insurance, health insurance, mortgage insurance, unemployment insurance, accident insurance, burial insurance, cargo insurance, fire insurance, title insurance.

Insured
The person or entity who is covered by an insurance policy.

Insurer
The person or entity (usually an insurance company) that agrees to pay for losses suffered by the insured. (See also: insurance)

Intangible Property
Personal property that has no physical existence, such as stocks, bonds, bank notes, trade secrets, patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Such "untouchable" items may be represented by a certificate or license that fixes or approximates the value, but others (such as the goodwill or reputation of a business) are not easily valued or embodied in any instrument. Compare: tangible personal property

Integrated Pension Plan
A pension plan that takes anticipated Social Security benefits into account when determining plan benefits.

Integration
1) Bringing together people of different races into institutions, such as schools, housing, employment, or the military, that have historically been segregated. 2) Combining the full agreement of the parties into a contract, such that any earlier versions or understandings that aren't included in the contract are superceded. (See also: integration clause)

Integration Clause
A provision in a contract stating that the contract represents the full and final agreement of the parties and supersedes any other agreements, oral or written, on the same subject. The purpose of an integration clause is to prevent one party from later claiming that what the parties actually agreed to was different from what was written in the contract.

Intellectual Property
Property such as books, inventions, business secrets, and trademarks, that -- unlike real or personal property -- is created by the human mind. Intellectual property is typically protected by patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret laws (jointly called intellectual property laws).

Intent
The mental desire to act in a particular way. Many crimes require that in order to be found guilty, the perpetrator must have intended to do what he did. An act may be one of many possible crimes depending on the intent of the perpetrator. For example, if A shoots and wounds B, the offense could be attempted murder (if A intended to kill B), assault with intent to cause great bodily injury (A was intending to merely wound B), a minor misdemeanor (A shot on purpose but could not have known that B was around), or no crime at all (A fired the gun completely by accident). (See also: specific intent)

Intent To Levy
A notice to a delinquent taxpayer that the IRS intends to seize (levy) property to satisfy a tax obligation, though the levy may not be imminent.

Intent-To-Use Application (ITU)
An alternative method for seeking federal trademark registration based on the applicant's bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce in the near future. Although an ITU applicant may reserve the mark for a limited time, registration on the Principal Register will not occur until the mark is actually used in commerce.

Intentional Tort
A deliberate act that causes harm to another, for which the victim may sue the wrongdoer for damages. Acts of domestic violence, such as assault and battery, are intentional torts (as well as crimes).

Inter Alia
(in-tur ay-lee-ah) Latin for "among other things." This phrase is often found in legal pleadings and writings, for example: "The judge said, inter alia, that the time to file the action had passed."

Inter Se
(in-tur say) Latin for "among themselves," referring to rights and duties owed among certain parties rather than to others. For instance, shareholders have certain rights and duties to each other.

Inter Vivos
(in-tur vee-vohs) Latin for "among the living." Inter vivos usually refers to the transfer of property during life, rather than after death through a will or other estate planning instrument. It may also refer to a trust created while living, rather than a trust that comes into being upon the trust maker's death.

Inter Vivos Trust
The Latin name for a living trust. "Inter vivos" is Latin for "between the living."

Interest
A fee for the use of money. For example, you pay a bank or other creditor for lending you money or extending you credit. The interest rate represents the yearly price charged by the lender for the loan, expressed as a percentage of the total amount borrowed. You might be paid interest if you let a bank use your money--for example, by depositing it in a savings account. The bank pays you interest for the right to lend out your money (for which it receives interest from the borrower).

Interested Witness
A witness in a trial who has a personal interest in the outcome of the matter at hand.

Interference
An administrative proceeding before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to determine who gets the patent in situations where two pending applications (or a pending application and a patent issued within one year of the pending applications filing date) both claim the same invention.

Interim Order
A temporary order made by a judge pending a hearing or trial, where a final order will be entered.

Interlineation
The act of writing between the lines of a document, usually to add something that was omitted or thought of later. Good practice is either to have all parties initial the change at the point of the writing or have the document retyped and then signed.

Interlocutory
Provisional and not intended to by final. This usually refers to court orders which are temporary. See: interlocutory decree

Interlocutory Appeal
An appeal that occurs before the trial court's final ruling on an entire case.

Interlocutory Decree
A court judgment that is not final until the judge decides other matters in the case or until enough time has passed to see if the interim decision is working. In the past, interlocutory decrees were most often used in divorces. The terms of the divorce were set out in an interlocutory decree, which would become final only after a waiting period.

Interlocutory Judgment
See: interlocutory decree

Intermediate Scrutiny
A legal standard to determine the constitutionality of a statute, when the statute applies to a quasi-suspect classification (such as gender). To determine if a statute passes the test, a court considers whether the statute involves important governmental interests and whether the law is substantially related to the achievement of important government objectives. (See also: strict scrutiny)

Intermittent Leave
Leave taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in separate blocks of time rather than all at once. For example, an employee with chronic asthma may occasionally need a day or afternoon off when the condition flares up, or an employee receiving chemotherapy may need to take a few hours off every other week for treatment.

Internal Revenue Code (IRC)
The federal tax laws of the United States.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The branch of the United States Treasury that administers the tax laws and collects taxes.

International Law
While there is no one, specific body of international law, the term is taken to mean the collection of treaties, customs, and multilateral agreements governing the interaction of nations and multinational businesses or nongovernmental organizations.

Internet Service Provider (Isp)
A business that provides access to the Internet. An ISP may also offer services such as website hosting. An ISP can sometimes be held accountable for copyright violations for material posted by subscribers and users, but is often protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Communications Decency Act usually protects ISPs from the posting of obscenities or defamation by subscribers or users.

Interpleader
A court case between two parties who both claim the right to money from a third party, when the third party agrees the money is owed but doesn't know to whom. The debtor deposits the funds with the court ("interpleads"), asks the court to be dismissed from the lawsuit, and lets the court decide who gets the money. Compare: impleader

Interrogation
Vigorous questioning, usually by the police of a suspect in custody. Other than providing their names and addresses, suspects are not obligated to answer the questions, which must be preceded by Miranda warnings. When suspects refuse to answer, their silence generally cannot be used by the prosecution to help prove that they are guilty of a crime. If the suspect has asked for a lawyer, the police must cease questioning. If they continue to question, they usually cannot use the answers against the suspect at trial. (See also: Miranda warnings)

Interrogatories
Written questions sent by one party to another as part of the pretrial investigation process, called "discovery." Interrogatories must be answered in writing under oath or under penalty of perjury within a specified time (such as 30 days). Lawyers can write their own sets of questions, or can use form interrogatories designed for the most common types of lawsuits.

Interstate Commerce
The buying, selling, or moving of products, services, or money across state borders. The commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution allows the federal government to regulate trade so that the free flow of commerce between states is not obstructed.

Intervene
To enter into a lawsuit that has already started between other parties, because a claim exists that is related to the existing case. Example: A grocery store sues a dairy producer for providing sub-par butter. A second grocery chain has been buying from the same producer, so the second chain asks to intervene in the lawsuit.

Intervening Cause
An event that occurs after a party's improper or dangerous action and before the damage that could otherwise have been caused by the dangerous act, thereby breaking the chain of causation between the original act and the harm to the injured person. The result is that the person who started the chain of events may no longer be considered responsible for damages to the injured person since the original action is no longer the proximate cause.

Intervention
The procedure under which a third party may join an ongoing lawsuit, providing the facts and the legal issues apply to the intervenor as much as to one of the existing parties. (See also: intervene.)

Intestacy
The condition of having died without a valid will. In the absence of a will or other valid estate planning documents, the deceased person's property will be distributed according to the state's "intestacy statutes."

Intestate
The condition of dying without a valid will. The probate court appoints an administrator to distribute the deceased person's property according to state law.

Intestate Succession
The method by which property is distributed when a person dies without a valid will. Each state's law provides that the property be distributed to the closest surviving relatives. In most states, the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and next of kin inherit, in that order.

Intoxication
1) The condition of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Intoxication is not criminal until it impairs a person's ability to operate a vehicle with normal caution ("drunk driving") based on specific levels of alcohol in the blood or, in the case of public drunkenness, when the person becomes unable to care for himself, dangerous to himself or others, or the cause of a disturbance. 2) The defense to a criminal charge, in which the defendant claims that intoxication made it impossible for him to form the intent or specific intent to commit the crime. This defense is available only rarely. (See also: intent, specific intent)

Intrinsic Fraud
An intentionally false representation (lie) which is part of the fraud and can be considered in determining general and punitive damages.

Inure
To take effect, or to benefit someone. In property law, the term means "to vest." For example, Jim buys a beach house that includes the right to travel across the neighbor's property to get to the water. That right of way is said, cryptically, "to inure to the benefit of Jim." Also spelled "enure."

Inurement
Benefit. For example, a nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status cannot provide employees with private inurement. That is, employees cannot receive benefits greater than they provide in return.

Invasion Of Privacy
A legal claim that another person or business has illegally used someone's likeness or unjustifiably intruded into that person's personal affairs. Examples of invasion of privacy include using someone's likeness for commercial advantage (for example, falsely claiming that a particular person has endorsed a product), public disclosure of private facts (for example, that a person has a particular disease or has had an affair), putting someone in a false light to the public (for example, publicizing false information that someone was arrested or said something inflammatory), and intrusion into someone's private affairs (for example, secretly eavesdropping on someone's phone conversations).

Inventory
1) Property a business owns for resale. 2) In probate, a complete listing of all property owned by a deceased person at the time of death. The inventory is filed with the court during probate. The personal representative (executor or administrator) of the estate is responsible for filing the inventory.

Inverse Condemnation
The taking of a portion of property by a government agency which so greatly damages the use of a parcel of real property that it is the equivalent of condemnation of the entire property. Example: the city of Los Angeles widens a boulevard and thereby takes the entire parking lot of Bennison's Market. The city offers to pay for the lot, but Bennison claims the market has lost all its business since no one can park and wants the value of the entire parcel, including the market building.

Invest
To contribute money to a business venture, or to buy property or securities, with the intention and expectation of making a profit.

Investigative Background Check
See: investigative consumer report

Investigative Consumer Report
A consumer report from a consumer reporting agency that includes information on a person's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or lifestyle that is based at least in part on personal interviews with the person's friends, family members, neighbors, and others who have information about the person. To request an investigative consumer report, the person making the request must follow the procedures laid out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. (See: consumer report, consumer protection laws)

Investment
Money spent to acquire an asset for the purpose of making a profit, such as the purchase of stock in a corporation. Also refers to the property or business interest purchased in order to make a profit.

Investor
A person who makes investments. An investor may act either for him or herself or on behalf of others. A stock broker or mutual fund manager, for instance, makes investments for others who have entrusted that person with their money.

Invitee
A person who comes onto another's property, premises, or business establishment upon invitation. The invitation may be direct and express or "implied," as when a shop is open and the public is expected to enter to do business. Property owners must protect invitees from dangers on the property, and are liable for damages if they fail to do so.

Involuntary
To act without intent, will, or choice.

IP
See: intellectual property

Ipse Dixit
(ip-see>b>dix-it) Latin for "he himself said it." A statement that, while unsupported and unproven, may carry some weight based solely on the authority or standing of the person or court that issued it.

Ipso Facto
(ipp-soh fact-oh) Latin for "by the fact itself." This term is used by Latin-addicted lawyers when something is so obvious that it needs no elaboration or further explanation. A simple example: "A blind person, ipso facto, is not entitled to a driver's license."

IRA
See: individual retirement account

Iraq War Resolution Of 2002
A joint resolution of Congress passed in October 2002, authorizing the use of military force in Iraq based on a number of factors, including allegations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

IRC
See: Internal Revenue Code

Irreconcilable Differences
The most common basis for granting a no-fault divorce. As a practical matter, courts seldom, if ever, inquire into what the differences actually are, and routinely grant a divorce as long as the party seeking the divorce says the couple has irreconcilable differences. Compare: incompatibility, irremediable or irretrievable breakdown

Irrelevant
Not pertinent, or germane, to the matter at hand or to any issue before the court. This is the most common objection raised by attorneys to questions asked or to answers given during testimony in a trial. For example, if A is charged with hitting B, evidence of A's honest nature would probably be irrelevant, but that evidence would be relevant if A is charged with embezzelment.

Irremediable Or Irretrievable Breakdown
An accepted ground for a no-fault divorce. As a practical matter, courts seldom, if ever, inquire into whether the marriage has actually broken down, and routinely grant a divorce as long as the party seeking the divorce says the marriage has fallen apart. Compare: incompatibility, irreconcilable differences

Irreparable Harm
See: irreparable injury

Irreparable Injury
Harm that no measurable monetary compensation can cure or reverse, such as cutting down shade trees, polluting a stream, or not giving a child needed medication. Proving irreparable injury is often required in order to request a judicial injunction, writ, temporary restraining order, or other assistance in immediately blocking the activity (usually pending further court proceedings). Also referred to as irreparable harm.

Irresistible Impulse Test
A seldom-used test for criminal insanity that labels the person insane if he could not control his actions when committing the crime, even though he knew his actions were wrong.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (Ilit)
See: life insurance trust

Irrevocable Trust
A permanent trust. Once it is created, it cannot be revoked, amended, or changed in any way.

IRS
See: Internal Revenue Service

IRS Expenses
A table of national and regional expense estimates published by the IRS. Debtors whose current monthly income is more than their state's median family income must use the IRS expenses to calculate their average net income in a Chapter 7 case, or their disposable income in a Chapter 13 case.

IRS Regulations
IRS written interpretations of selected provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

ISP
See: Internet service provider

Issue
A term generally meaning all of one's children and their children down through the generations, including grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. Also called lineal descendants.

Issue Preclusion
See: collateral estoppel

Itemized Deductions
Expenses allowed by the tax code to be subtracted from income, such as medical expenses, mortgage interest, and charitable expenses.