For the last several months, our series Legalese From A to Z has been walking you through the sometimes wacky, sometimes confusing world of legalese , the specialized language of law used by those in the legal field.
Letter by letter, we've been examining some important, interesting, or noteworthy bits of legalese. This week, we take a look at five legal terms that start with the letter "N":
Next of kin. You may have heard the phrase "next of kin" in situations where a person has died without a will and that person's property will pass according to the laws of intestacy. But who is considered next of kin? Under the laws of most states, the next of kin is a spouse or domestic partner. If there is not a spouse or domestic partner, then the next of kin will usually be a person's children. If there are no children, the next of kin will typically be the first of any of the following blood relatives who are surviving: parents, then siblings, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles, and so forth. Depending on the laws in your state, relatives beyond a certain degree of remoteness may no longer be considered kin.
Nolo contendere plea. In a criminal case, a defendant who pleads nolo contendere does not admit that he is guilty of the crime he is accused of committing, but nevertheless waives his right to trail and accepts the court's punishment in the form of a criminal sentence.
Non-marital property. Property that is owned by a person prior to marriage or acquired during a marriage by gift or inheritance is generally considered non-marital property, also called separate property in some states. Depending upon the law of your state, property acquired during a marriage, even by one spouse individually, may be community property owned equally by both spouses.
Nondischargeable debt. Through bankruptcy, a person is typically able to discharge debt, which legally relieves him from the obligation to pay. However, certain types of debt may be nondischargeable debt and will not be eliminated by bankruptcy. These debts generally include child support, spousal support, student loans, and criminal restitution.
Nuisance. Nuisance, as you probably know, refers to something that invades another person's rights or interests by being offensive, annoying, or otherwise obstructive. Legally, there are two basic types of lawsuits involving nuisances: private nuisance and public nuisance. In a private nuisance case, a private land owner files suit against a neighboring land owner claiming that the neighbor is interfering with the use and enjoyment of his property by creating some manner of disturbance such as noise, light, foul smells, or toxic fumes. A public nuisance case is brought when a landowner's actions may be detrimentally affecting the health, safety, welfare, or comfort of the general public.