Louisiana Law Glossary

Glossary of Louisiana Law Terms

A MENSA ET THORO

A separation “from bed and board.” Since Louisiana now has no-fault divorce laws, the concept of a legal separation is now outdated.

A VINCULO MATRIMONII

A divorce “from the bonds of matrimony.” A Complete dissolution of the marriage.

ABANDONMENT

The withdrawal or denial of marital obligations without justification or cause. It is more com­monly understood to be one spouse leaving the matrimonial domicile without cause and refusing to return.

ABSTRACT

A condensed history of the chain of title to land based on courthouse records. A title opinion from a lawyer is generally based on the abstract.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

To admit something is genuine. When used in connection with paternity, it is a formal recognition that a child is one’s own.

ACQUETS

Property acquired by gift, purchase, or other­wise than by succession (also acquets and gains).

ACT OF SALE

In Louisiana it is an original record of a sale of property made by a notary. Since Louisiana does not have deeds, as such, a copy of the act of sale is the equivalent of a deed.

ADMINISTRATOR (female: Administratrix)

The person who has court authority to manage a deceased’s estate. This is the proper term for an intestate (no will) succession. If there was a will, then the person is an executor.

ADOPTION

The act of taking another person as one’s own with all the rights and responsibilities that would have existed between parent and child. This also will make the person a forced heir, if the person would be a forced anyway.

ADULTERY

Voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with someone other than that person’s spouse. May also include oral intercourse, according to a line of Louisiana court cases.

AFFIDAVIT

A voluntary written statement that is signed and sworn under oath by the person making the statement before an officer having authority to administer the oath, usually a notary.

ALIMONY

The right of either spouse to receive support from the other. The more proper term now is “spousal support” rather than alimony.

ALIMONY PENDENTE LITE

A right for support that is temporary pending a final divorce. Now more properly called “temporary spousal support.”

ANNULMENT

Act of rendering something void retro­spectively as well as prospectively.

ANSWER

Usually a pleading in response to a lawsuit which alleges facts to deny or avoid the allegations made by a plaintiff.

APPEAL

The removal of a case from an inferior court to a superior court for review.

ATTORNEY

One who is authorized to act for or in stead of another.

AUTHENTIC ACT

An act executed before a notary and two witnesses.

BAD FAITH

Generally a deliberate fraud or a design to mislead others for one’s own benefit.

BEQUEATH

To give personal property by a will.

BIGAMY

Contracting a marriage while a prior marriage is still valid.

BULK SALES ACTS

Class of statutes to prevent the de­frauding of creditors by a secret sale of most or all of a merchant’s stock. Most of Louisiana’s bulk sales acts have been replaced by the Uniform Commercial Code.

CHATTEL

Article of personal property. Property other than real estate.

CODICIL

A modification or addition to an existing will.

COLLATION

The return to a succession by an heir who received more than his share during the deceased’s life­time. The laws of collation can be waived in a will.

COMMUNITY PROPERTY

Property owned jointly by a husband and wife in a marital partnership.

COMMUTATIVE CONTRACT

A contract in which each contracting party gives and receives an equivalent, e.g., the contract of sale.

CONCUBINAGE

Living together or cohabiting without the authority of marriage.

CURATOR (female: Curatrix)

Person appointed to be a guardian of a minor or other person not regarded as able to manage his own affairs.

DATION EN PAIEMENT

The giving by a debtor to a creditor of something other than money to cancel a debt. Usually a dation is made of mortgaged property to the mortgage holder in exchange for canceling the debt.

DEVOLUTIVE APPEAL

An appeal that does not suspend the execution of a judgment.

DIVORCE A VINCULO MATRIMONII

An absolute divorce that totally releases the parties from their matri­monial obligation.

DOMICILE

A place of permanent residence in which a person always intends to remain and to return when trav­eling elsewhere.

EARNEST

A payment of part of the price for the purpose of validating the contract.

EMANCIPATION

Surrender of parental duties with the concurrent granting to a minor of the legal status of adult. Some types of emancipation can be partial.

EVICTION

The removal of a tenant from an owner’s property through judicial process.

EXCEPTION

A pleading that is filed to delay or dismiss a suit without necessarily making a legal appearance before the court.

EXECUTOR (female: Executrix)

Person appointed in a will to carry out the deceased’s instructions and dispose of the property in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.

FORCED HEIRS

Those persons who must receive a por­tion of a deceased’s estate in a proportion set by law. Currently, forced heirs are children under the age of 24, children regardless of age who are permanently disabled, and children regardless of age who have an inherited condition that may make them permanently disabled.

FORCED PORTION

The amount a forced heir must receive. Can be used interchangeably with “legitime.”

HEIR

One who is entitled to receive the property of a deceased either by will or by operation of law. The more technical definition in Louisiana is one who inherits when the deceased had no will, as opposed to a legatee who inherits through a will.

INCEST

Sexual intercourse between parties related by blood in the degree prohibited by law.

INJUNCTION

A court order forbidding a defendant from doing something or allowing a plaintiff to do something.

INNOMINATE

Having no classification. In the law of contracts, a type of contract that falls under general contract law since it is not classified under a particular statute.

IN SOLIDO

An obligation where several obligors may each be individually liable for the whole obligation.

INTERDICTION

A court proceeding to declare a person incapable of managing his own affairs because of physical or mental disability. The person interdicted is called an interdict and the person appointed is called a tutor.

INTERLOCUTORY

A temporary judgment or decree which decides some point but is not final in nature.

INTERROGATORIES

A set of written questions propounded to an opposing party to gain information or to force admissions that can be used at trial.

INTESTATE

Without a will. When a person dies intestate, Louisiana law determines who will inherit his property.

LAWYER

A person licensed to practice law. Commonly used interchangeably with attorney.

LEGITIME

The portion of an estate that a forced heir is entitled to inherit. This can also be called the forced portion.

LESION

The harm suffered by a seller who does not receive a fair amount for the property which he has sold.

LESION BEYOND MOIETY

The harm suffered by a seller who does not receive at least one-half the value of the property he has sold.

MAJORITY

Age at which a person has all the rights of an adult.

MALPRACTICE

Unreasonable lack of skill or care by someone who practices a given profession.

MARRIAGE CONTRACT

An agreement between married persons, or those who intend to be married, usually as to their respective property rights.

MYSTIC WILL

A will that is written by hand, sealed in an envelope, and then the envelope is signed by the maker, witnessed and notarized. This type of will is no longer recognized in Louisiana law.

NE VARIETUR

“It must not be altered.” Phrase placed on a note by a notary to identify the note in connection with an act of mortgage. Also used in other types of legal documents.

NOTARIAL WILL

A will which is dated, signed by the testator on each page, executed before a notary and two witnesses, and which is attested by the testator, witnesses and notary.

NOTARY PUBLIC

An officer authorized to administer oaths and certify signatures. In Louisiana, the notary has many other powers, such as preparing wills.

OLOGRAPHIC WILL

A will written by the testator. To be valid it must be entirely written, dated and signed in the hand of the testator.

PAROL EVIDENCE

Evidence given by mouth. Often not allowed in court when used to dispute written agreements.

POWER OF ATTORNEY

A written authorization giving another person power to do specific or general acts for the person giving the power.

PRELIMINARY DEFAULT

A judgment that is entered into the court minutes reflecting a request or motion by a plaintiff to recognize that a defendant has not filed an answer or opposition within the time period allowed.

PRESCRIPTION

A time period the running of which creates or terminates rights. For example, a suit for wrongful injury usually must be brought within one year or the right to sue is lost. Often called “statute of limitations” -especially in other states.

PRO-SE

“For himself.” Applies to a person who is representing himself without an attorney.

PUTATIVE MARRIAGE

A marriage contracted in good faith where one or both parties are ignorant of an impediment which makes the marriage unlawful.

QUANTUM MERUIT

“As much as he deserves.” A right to receive payment for services even when there is no express contract.

RECIPROCAL WILLS

Wills made by two or more parties that make similar provisions in favor of each other. In Louisiana, the wills must be separate documents.

RECONCILIATION

The renewal of relations between married people after a separation. A reconciliation during the pendency of a divorce can void the divorce proceedings.

REDHIBITION

The avoidance of a sale because of a defect in the thing sold which renders the thing useless or so imperfect that it can be presumed that the buyer would not have bought the thing had he known of the defect.

SETTLOR

One who creates a trust.

SIMULATED SALE

A sale which appears to be genuine but which in fact is intended to defraud creditors or other parties.

SMALL SUCCESSION

A succession that has a gross value of less than $75,000.

SPENDTHRIFT TRUST

A trust that is created with certain provisions that prevent the beneficiary from selling or mortgaging his interest in the trust.

STATUTORY WILL

A will which is dated, signed by the testator on each page, executed before a notary and two witnesses, and which is attested by the testator, witnesses and notary. This is now properly called a “Notarial Will”.

SUCCESSION

The estate of the deceased as well as the act of determining and transferring the estate and rights to the heirs or legatees <197>the successors.

TESTAMENT

A written disposition of property to take effect after the maker’s death. It is used interchangeably with the term “will” but the strict definition is that of a will of personal property only, not real estate.

TESTATE

A succession in which there is a valid will.

TESTATOR (Female: Testatrix)

The person who makes a will.

TORT

A wrong done by one person to another.

TRUST

A right or property held by one party, the trustee, for the benefit of another, the beneficiary.

TUTOR (Female: Tutrix)

One who has the care of a minor and the administration of his estate. Can be used almost interchangeably with the word “guardian.”

USUFRUCT

The right to enjoy and use a thing that belongs to another and to take all the income and utility of the thing as long as the substance of the thing is not altered. The usufruct of money or consumeables implies the right to use the thing entirely up.

WILL

The written wishes of a person as to the disposition of his property after his death, as to the appointment of his executor, and as to the tutor of his children.

WORKER’S COMPENSATION

A set of statutes that pro­vide for payments to workers and their dependents when the worker is injured as the result of his employment.