To obtain a Court order for directing a party holding funds or about to pay wages to an alleged debtor to set that money aside until the Court decides how much the debtor owes to the creditor. Garnishing funds is also a warning to the party holding the funds (garnishee) not to pay them, and to inform the court as to how much money is being held. If the garnishee (such as a bank or employer) should mistakenly give the money to the account owner or employee, the garnishee will be liable to pay the creditor what he/she/it has coming.


A person or entity which receives a Court order not to release funds held for or owed to a customer or employee, pending further order of the Court.


The entire process of petitioning for and getting a Court order which is made for directing a person or entity (garnishee) to hold funds they owe to someone who allegedly is in debt to another person, often after a judgment has been rendered. Usually the actual amounts owed have not been figured out or are to be paid by installments directly or through the law enforcement officer.

Gender bias

Unequal treatment in employment opportunity and expectations due to attitudes which is based on the sex of an employee or group of employees. Gender bias can be a legitimate basis for a lawsuit under anti-discrimination statutes.

General appearance

An attorney's representation of a client in Court for all purposes which are connected with a pending lawsuit or prosecution. After "appearing" in court, the attorney is then responsible for all future appearances in court unless officially relieved by court order or substitution of another attorney. A lawyer may be leery of making a general appearance unless all details of representation (such as the amount and payment of his/her fees) have been worked out with the client. This is distinguished from a special appearance, which is only for a particular purpose or court session and does not make the attorney responsible for future conduct of the case.

General counsel

The chief attorney for a corporation, who is paid usually full time for legal services. Attorneys who work only for one business are "house counsel."

General damages

Monetary recovery in a suit for injuries which are suffered (such as pain, suffering, inability to perform certain functions) or breach of contract for which there is no exact money value which can be calculated. They are distinguished from special damages, which are for specific costs, and from punitive (exemplary) damages for punishment and to set an example when malice, intent or gross negligence was a factor.

General denial

A statement in an answer to a suit or claim by a defendant in a suit, in which the defendant denies everything which is alleged in the complaint without specifically denying any allegation.

General partner

Usually one of the owners and operators of a partnership, which is a joint business entered into for profit, in which responsibility for management, profits and, most importantly, the liability for debts is shared by the general partners. Anyone entering into a general partnership (the most common business organization involving more than one owner) must remember that each general partner is liable for all the debts of the partnership. Furthermore, any partner alone can bind the partnership on contracts.

General plan

A plan of a city, county or area which is used to establishe zones for different types of development, uses, traffic patterns and future development.

Generation skipping

Gifts which are made through trusts by a grandparent to a grandchild, skipping one's child (the grandchild's parent).


The voluntary transfer of property or money to another person without any payment or strings while both the giver and the recipient are still alive. Large gifts are subject to the gift tax.

Gift in contemplation of death

A gift of personal property (not real estate) by a person who is expecting to die soon due to ill health or age. Treating the gift as made in contemplation of death has the benefit of including the gift in the value of the estate, rather than making the gift subject to a separate gift tax charged the giver. If the giver gets over an apparently mortal illness, the gift is treated like any other gift for tax purposes.

Gift tax

A tax which is levied on large gifts.

Go bail

Slang for putting up the bail money to get an accused out of jail after an arrest or pending trial or appeal.

Good cause

A legally sufficient reason for a ruling or other action by a judge.

Good faith

True intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person or to fulfill a promise to act, even when some legal technicality is not fulfilled.

Good samaritan rule

If a volunteer comes to the aid of an injured or ill person who is a stranger, the person giving the aid owes the stranger a duty of being reasonably careful. In some circumstances negligence could result in a claim of negligent care if the injuries or illness were made worse by the volunteer's negligence.

Good title

Ownership of real property which is totally free of claims against it and therefore can be sold, transferred or put up as security without any intervention of any person.


Items which are held for sale in the regular course of business, as in a retail store.


The benefit of a business having a good reputation under its name and regular patronage. Goodwill is not tangible like equipment, right to lease the premises or inventory of goods. It is important for selling a busniess, since there can be an allocation in the sales price for the value of the goodwill, which is always a subjective estimate. Included in goodwill upon sale may be the right to do business without competition by the seller in the area and/or for a specified period of time. Sellers like the allocation to goodwill to be high since it is not subject to capital gains tax, while buyers prefer it to be low, because it cannot be depreciated for tax purposes like tangible assets. Goodwill also may be overestimated by a proud seller and believed by an unknowing buyer.

Governmental immunity

No governmental body can be sued unless it gives permission. This protection resulted in terrible injustices, since public hospitals, government drivers and other employees could be negligent with impunity (free) from judgment. The Tort Claims Act and state waivers of immunity (with specific claims systems) have negated this rule, which stemmed from the days when kings set prerogatives.

Grace period

A time which is stated in a contract in which a late payment or performance may be made without penalty. Often after the grace period ends without payment or performance by the person who is supposed to pay, the contract is suspended. Example: if a person does not pay his/her insurance payment (premium) by the stated deadline, he/she usually has a few days extra to pay before the absolute deadline. If the person does not pay by then, the insurance company cancels the contract, i.e. your insurance

Grand jury

A jury in each county who serves for a term of a year and is usually selected from a list of nominees offered by the judges in the county.

Grand larceny

The crime of theft of another's property including money over a certain value, as distinguished from petty (or petit) larceny in which the value is below the grand larceny limit.

Grand theft

Refer also: grand larceny


To convey real property from a title holder (grantor) or holders to another (grantee) with or without payment. However, there is an important difference between the types of deeds used. A grant deed warrants (guarantees) that the grantor (seller) has full right and title to the property, while a quitclaim deed only grants whatever the grantor owns (which may be nothing) and guarantees nothing.

Grant deed

The document which is used for transferring title to real property or a real property interest from one party (grantor) to another (grantee). It must describe the property by legal description of boundaries and/or parcel numbers, be signed by all people transferring the property, and be acknowledged before a notary public. Importantly, a grant deed warrants that the grantor actually owned the title to transfer, which a quitclaim deed would not, since it only transfers what the grantor owned, if anything.


The person (buyer, recipient, donee) who receives title or ownership to real property from the seller (grantor) by a document called a grant deed or quitclaim deed.


The person (seller, giver) who transfers title in real property to another (buyer, recipient, donee) by grant deed or quitclaim deed is called grantor

Grantor-grantee index

A set of books and/or computerized lists found in the office of every Recorder of Deeds which lists all recorded transfers of title by deed (as well as liens, mortgages, deeds of trust and other documents affecting title). Each yearly index is usually alphabetized by the last names of grantors (the party transferring title) and grantee (the recipients of title). The listing includes the date of transfer, and cross-references to the book and page or document number where a copy of the document was recorded and can be examined. This is a key instrument in tracking a chain of title.


It means voluntary or free.


Latin for "to weigh down," the basic gist of every claim (cause of action) or charge in a complaint filed to begin a lawsuit.

Gross income

In calculating income tax, the income of an individual or business from all sources before deduction of allowable expenses, which will result in net income.

Gross negligence

Carelessness which is in reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, and is so great it is appeared to be a conscious violation of other people's rights to safety. It is more than simple inadvertence, but it is just shy of being intentionally evil. If one has borrowed or contracted to take care of another's property, then gross negligence is the failure to actively take the care as one would of his/her own property. If gross negligence is found by the judge or jury, it can result in the award of punitive damages on top of general and special damages.


A) The promise to pay another's debt or fulfill contract obligations if that party fails to pay or perform. B) Occasionally, the person to whom the guarantee is made. 4) a promise to make a product good if it has some defect. C) To pledge or agree to be responsible for another's debt or contractual performance if that other person does not pay or perform. Usually, the party receiving the guarantee will first try to collect or obtain performance from the debtor before trying to collect from the one making the guarantee (guarantor).


A person or entity who is agreed to be responsible for another's debt or performance under a contract if the other fails to pay or perform.


An older spelling of guarantee, which the renowned Oxford etymologist Dr. Walter Skeat called a "better spelling."


A person who has been appointed by a judge to take care of a minor child or incompetent adult personally and/or manage that person's affairs is called guardian. To become a guardian of a child either the party intending to be the guardian or another family member, a close friend or a local official responsible for a minor's welfare will petition the court to appoint the guardian. In the case of a minor, the guardianship remains under Court supervision until the child reaches majority at eighteen. The judge does not have to honor that request, although he/she usually does. Sadly, often a parent must petition to become the guardian of his/her child's "estate" if the child inherits or receives a gift of substantial assets, including the situation in which a parent gives his/her own child an interest in real property or stocks. Therefore, that type of gift should be avoided and a trust created instead. While the term "guardian" may refer to someone who is appointed to care for and/or handle the affairs of a person who is incompetent or incapable of administering his/her affairs, this is more often called a "conservator" under a conservatorship.

Guardian ad litem

A person who is appointed by the Court only to take legal action on behalf of a minor or an adult not able to handle his/her own affairs. Duties may include filing a lawsuit for an injured child, defending a lawsuit or filing a claim against an estate. Usually a parent will file a petition to be appointed the guardian ad litem of a child hurt in an accident at the same time the lawsuit is filed.


A) A person who is staying at another's residence without payment of any charge, called a "social guest." An important distinction is that a non-paying guest is not owed the duty of being provided a safe boarding space, as is a paying customer. Thus if a social guest trips on a slippery rug, he/she has no right to sue for negligence, but a paying guest might. B) A person who is paying for staying in a hotel for a short time.


Person can be convicted of a crime or having admitted the commission of a crime by pleading "guilty". A defendant may also be found guilty by a judge after a plea of "no contest."The term "guilty" is also sometimes applied to persons against whom a judgment has been found in a suit for a civil wrong, such as negligence or some intentional act like assault or fraud, but that is a confusing misuse of the word since it should only apply to a criminal charge.