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Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'P'

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

For those who don't spend every day speaking, reading, and writing it, legalese -- the specialized language of lawyers, judges, and those in the legal field -- can seem hard to decipher.

But we're here to help. Each week, our series Legalese From A to Z breaks down some interesting (not to mention useful) legal words or phrases, working through the alphabet letter by letter. This week, we're taking a closer look at five legal terms that start with the letter "P":

  • P.O.D account. P.O.D. is short for payable on death, a type of account that is payable to a designated beneficiary upon the account holder's death. It is one of the few ways to transfer the property of a person who has died outside of the probate process.
  • Palimony. Much like alimony is the payment of support from one spouse to another spouse following divorce, palimony is the court-ordered payment of money from one unwed "pal" to another following the end of out-of-wedlock cohabitation. Unlike alimony, however, palimony will only be ordered in limited circumstances and may not be recognized in all states.
  • Piercing the corporate veil. In a lawsuit against a corporation, piercing the corporate veil allows a plaintiff to impose personal liability on corporate officers, directors, or shareholders for a corporation's wrongful or fraudulent acts. The corporate form generally provides a shield for personal liability. But if a corporation failed to follow corporate formalities, was formed for a fraudulent purpose, or is indistinguishable from its owners, then a court may allow a plaintiff to seek damages from corporate officers or shareholders.
  • Postnuptial agreement. Although prenuptial agreements entered into before marriage are more common, postnuptial agreements -- entered into following a marriage -- function in a similar way. Both postnuptial and prenuptial agreements are written agreements between spouses controlling the division of property and payment of support, if any, in the event of divorce.
  • Power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal instrument in which a person is authorized to act as the agent for another person. Depending on the scope of the power of attorney, it may allow the holder to make healthcare, financial, or other decisions for the individual by whom it was granted. Powers of attorney can also be limited to a particular transaction, be irrevocable, or in the case of durable powers of attorney, become effective upon the inability of a person to manage his or her own affairs.

If you need help with defining a legal word or phrase, check out FindLaw's Legal Dictionary for free access to more than 8,000 definitions of legal terms. In next week's Legalese From A to Z, we'll check out five more legal terms you may not know, beginning with the letter "Q."

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