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
statutory damages
See damages.
statutory share
The portion of a deceased person's estate that a spouse is entitled to claim under state law. The statutory share is usually one-third or one-half of the deceased spouse's property, but in some states the exact amount of the spouse's share depends on whether or not the couple has young children and, in a few states, on how long the couple was married. In most states, if the deceased spouse left a will, the surviving spouse must choose either what the will provides or the statutory share. Sometimes the statutory share is known by its more arcane legal name, dower and curtesy, or as a forced or elective share.
statutory subject matter
Requirement for a utility patent . To qualify, an invention must fit into at least one of five categories defined in 35 United States Code, Section 101. These categories include: compositions of matter, manufactures, machines, processes, and new and useful improvements of any of the above categories. Taken together, these categories are called statutory subject matter.
stepchild
A child born to your spouse before your marriage whom you have not legally adopted. If you adopt the child, he or she is legally treated just like a biological offspring. Under the Uniform Probate Code, followed in some states, a stepchild belongs in the same class as a biological child and will inherit property left "to my children." In other states, a stepchild is not treated like a biological child unless he or she can prove that the parental relationship was established when he or she was a minor and that adoption would have occurred but for some legal obstacle.
stepparent adoption
The formal, legal adoption of a child by a stepparent who is living with a legal parent. Most states have special provisions making stepparent adoptions relatively easy if the child's noncustodial parent gives consent, is dead or missing, or has abandoned the child.
stepped-up basis
For tax purposes, a value that is used to determine profit or loss when property is sold. If someone inherits property that has increased in value since the deceased person acquired it, the tax basis of the new owner is "stepped-up" to the market value of the property at the time of death. The stepped-up basis means that when the property is eventually sold, there will be less taxable gain.
stipulated insurance
An insurance policy that allows the insurance company to assess an amount on the insured, above the standard premium payments, if the company experiences losses worse than had been calculated into the standard premium. This is a way for both the insurance company and the policy-holder to gamble on the risk, mutually betting on low losses. Also called assessment, mutual assessment or mutual life insurance. Example: A shipping company buys an insurance policy to protect against loss or damage to its cargo. During the first few years, the company never pays more than the low fixed premiums because it suffers no losses. Later, however, the company's luck turns and one of its shipping liners sinks in the Bermuda Triangle. In response to the huge losses, the insurance company assess penalty payments and higher premiums.
stirpes
A term used in wills that refers to descendants of a common ancestor or branch of a family.
sua sponte
Latin for "on its own will or motion." This term is most commonly used to describe a decision or act that a judge decides upon without having been asked by either party.
sublease
A rental agreement or lease between a tenant and a new tenant (called a sublessee) who will either share the rental or take over from the first tenant. The sublessee pays rent directly to the tenant. The tenant is still completely responsible to the landlord for the rent and for any damage, including that caused by the sublessee. Most landlords prohibit subleases unless they have given prior written consent. Compare assignment.
subpena
The modern spelling of subpoena. A subpena is a court order issued at the request of a party requiring a witness to appear in court.
subpena duces tecum
A type of subpena, usually issued at the request of a party, by which a court orders a witness to produce certain documents at a deposition or trial. However, when one party wants an opposing party to produce documents, a different discovery device, called a Request for Production of Documents, is often used instead.
subpoena
See subpena.
subrogation
A taking on of the legal rights of someone whose debts or expenses have been paid. For example, subrogation occurs when an insurance company that has paid off its injured claimant takes the legal rights the claimant has against a third party that caused the injury, and sues that third party.
substituted service
A method for the formal delivery of court papers that takes the place of personal service. Personal service means that the papers are placed directly into the hands of the person to be served. Substituted service, on the other hand, may be accomplished by leaving the documents with a designated agent, with another adult in the recipient's home, with the recipient's manager at work or by posting a notice in a prominent place and then using certified mail to send copies of the documents to the recipient.