Legal Jargon Buster

Legal Jargon Buster

Legal Jargon and What it Means

In a society and world that is jam packed full of legal jargon, it can feel like a constant battle to understand what all our legal documents, such as wills and probates, are all about.  We have all been there: reading over and over the same paragraph, trying to translate it into simple, plain English that anyone from the general public could understand. To try and make dealing with any legalities much easier, Saga have put together a 'jargon buster' that is designed to help you understand some of the most common terms and phrases you are likely to come across during a legal proceeding.

Out of all the words you could come across, 'assets' tends to be one of the most common, and yet hardly any of us actually fully understand what the one word covers – does it mean money or items? It turns out that both are applicable to this term. 'Assets' simply means something that belongs to you that is of value, whether that be jewellery, paintings, cash and/or land, the list is fairly extensive. The reason why knowing the term is so important is so that you can be more readily prepared when drawing up your will, and/or when your family reads it.

However, what makes 'assets' so confusing is, not only how broad a term it actually is, but that the phrase 'chattels' also has a similar meaning. The latter word is all about personal belongings that you're expected to find around the house, your watch, your furniture, anything along those lines, and yet those same things can also be listed as 'assets' because they belong to you and they're of value. To help you differentiate between the two, it's best to only refer to anything worth significant financial wealth as 'assets', while your standard everyday items can be put down as 'chattels'.

Another highly used term that's found in legal documents is 'witness'. Naturally when we hear the term we tend to think of crime drama and court cases, and really the meaning when heard in those situations is no different to hearing them in a will or probate. In whatever instance it is used, it means to observe/see something, therefore when the testator is writing up your will, you need two people present to act as witnesses.

All three of these words, and several others can be found on Saga's website to help you navigate the verbal minefield that is legal jargon.

Content credited to:  Saga - March 2014

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