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Fair market value
The hypothetical most probable price that could be obtained for a property by average, informed purchasers.
Fee simple
The most extensive tenure allowed under the feudal system allowing the tenant to sell or convey by will or be transfer to a heir if the owner dies intestate. In modern law, almost all land is held in fee simple and this is as close as one can get to absolute ownership in common law.
Fee tail
A form of tenure under the feudal system that could only be transferred to a lineal descendant. If there were no lineal descendants upon the death of the tenant, the land reverted back to the lord.
Felony
A serious crime for which the punishment is prison for more than a year or death. Crimes of less gravity are called misdemeanours. This term is no longer used in England or other Commonwealth countries but remains a major distinction in the United States. Historically, in England, the term referred to crimes for which the punishment was the loss of land, life or a limb.
Feudal system
A social structure that existed throughout much of Europe between 800 and 1400 and that revolved around a multi-level hierarchy between lords (who held land granted under tenure from the king), and their tenants (also called "vassals").Tenants would lease land from the lord in exchange for loyalty and goods or services, such as military assistance or money. In exchange, the tenant would be protected from attack.
Fiduciary
Normally, the term is synonymous to a trustee, which is the classic form of a fiduciary relationship. A fiduciary has rights and powers which would normally belong to another person. The fiduciary holds those rights which he or she must exercise to the benefit of the beneficiary. A fiduciary must not allow any conflict of interest to infect their duties towards the beneficiary and must exercise a high standard of care in protecting or promoting the interests of the beneficiary. Fiduciary responsibilities exist for persons other than trustees such as between solicitor and client and principal and agent.
Fieri facias
A writ of fieri facias commands a sheriff to take and sell enough property from the person who lost the law suit, to pay the debt owed by the judgment.
Force majeure
French for an act of God; an inevitable, unpredictable act of nature, not dependent on an act of man. Used in insurance contracts to refer to acts of nature such as earthquakes or lightning.
Foreclosure
The technical meaning of the word is to wipe out a right of redemption on a property. Generally, this is what happens when someone does not pay their mortgage. Even though there has been no payments, the borrower retains a equitable right of redemption if, some day, he or she were able to find the money and try to exercise their right of redemption. To clear the title of this potential, a lender goes to court, demonstrates the default, requests that a date be set where the entire amount becomes payable after which, in the absence of payment, the lender is automatically relieved of the requirement to redeem the property back to the borrower; the debtor's right of redemption is said to be forever barred and foreclosed. This cancels all rights a borrower would have in the property and the property then belongs entirely to the lender, who is then free to possess or sell the property. The word is frequently used to generally refer to the lender's actions of repossessing and selling a property for default in mortgage payments.
Fraud
Deceitful conduct designed to manipulate another person to give something of value by (1) lying, (2) by repeating something that is or ought to have been known by the fraudulent party as false or suspect or (3) by concealing a fact from the other party which may have saved that party from being cheated. The existence of fraud will cause a court to void a contract and can give rise to criminal liability.
Freehold
A special right granting the full use of real estate for an indeterminate time. It differs from leasehold, which allows possession for a limited time. There are varieties of freehold such as fee simple and fee tail.
Freeholder
A person who owns freehold property rights (i.e. in a piece of real estate; either land or a building).
Fugitive
One who runs away to avoid arrest, prosecution or imprisonment. Many extradition laws also call the suspect a "fugitive" although, in that context, it does not necessarily mean that the suspect was trying to hide in the country from which extradition is being sought.
Functus officio
Latin: an officer or agency whose mandate has expired either because of the arrival of an expiry date or because an agency has accomplished the purpose for which it was created.
Fungibles
Goods which are comprised of many identical parts such as a bushel of grain or a barrel of apples or oil, and which can be easily replaced by other, identical goods. If the goods are sold by weight or number, this is a good sign that they are fungible.
Furiosi nulla voluntas est
A Latin expression that mentally impaired persons cannot validly sign a will.

 

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Last modified: 01/31/03