A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Mail or Telephone Order Rule
A Federal Trade Commission rule that requires a seller to ship goods ordered by mail, phone, computer or fax to you within the time promised or, if no time was stated, within 30 days. If the seller cannot ship within that period, the seller must send you a notice with a new shipping date and give you the option of canceling your order and getting a refund.
majority
(1) More than half of something, such as the votes cast in an election. (2) The age at which a person can exercise the legal rights of an adult, such as entering into contracts or voting. See age of majority.
malfeasance
Doing something that is illegal. This term is often used when a professional or public official commits an illegal act that interferes with the performance of his or her duties. For example, an elected official who accepts a bribe in exchange for political favors has committed malfeasance. Compare misfeasance.
malpractice
The delivery of substandard care or services by a lawyer, doctor, dentist, accountant or other professional. Generally, malpractice occurs when a professional fails to provide the quality of care that should reasonably be expected in the circumstances, with the result that her patient or client is harmed. In the area of legal malpractice, you need to prove two things to show that you were harmed: first, that your lawyer screwed up; and second, that if the lawyer had handled the work properly, you would have won your original case.
mandamus
Latin for "we command." A writ of mandamus is a court order that requires another court, government official, public body, corporation or individual to perform a certain act. For example, after a hearing, a court might issue a writ of mandamus forcing a public school to admit certain students on the grounds that the school illegally discriminated against them when it denied them admission. A writ of mandamus is the opposite of an order to cease and desist, or stop doing something. Also called a "writ of mandate."
mandatory
Required, compulsory or obligatory.
mandatory injunction
See injunction.
marital deduction
A deduction allowed by the federal estate tax laws for all property passed to a surviving spouse who is a U.S. citizen. This deduction (which really functions as an exemption) allows anyone, even a billionaire, to pass his or her entire estate to a surviving spouse without any tax at all.
marital life estate trust
See AB trust.
marital property
Most of the property accumulated by spouses during a marriage, called community property in some states. States differ as to exactly what is included in marital property; some states include all property and earnings dring the marriage, while others exclude gifts and inheritances.
Marital Settlement Agreement
See divorce agreement.
Marital Termination Agreement
See divorce agreement.
marriage
The legal union of two people. Once a couple is married, their rights and responsibilities toward one another concerning property and support are defined by the laws of the state in which they live. A marriage can only be terminated by a court granting a divorce or annulment. Compare common law marriage.
marriage certificate
A document that provides proof of a marriage, typically issued to the newlyweds a few weeks after they file for the certificate in a county office. Most states require both spouses, the person who officiated the marriage and one or two witnesses to sign the marriage certificate; often this is done just after the ceremony.
marriage license
A document that authorizes a couple to get married, usually available from the county clerk's office in the state where the marriage will take place. Couples pay a small fee for a marriage license, and must often wait a few days before it is issued. In addition, a few states require a short waiting period--usually not more than a day--between the time the license is issued and the time the marriage may take place. And some states still require blood tests for couples before they will issue a marriage license, though most no longer do.