Family Office glossary

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A formal statement at the end of a deed certifying the validity of the document. “Acknowledgement” of a deed implies that the interested party was physically in the courtroom on the day that the deed was recorded to swear to the authenticity of his signature.


To convey or transfer unrestricted ownership of something, usually land, from one person to another.


A position of agreement or alliance


A transfer, typically in writing, of right, title, or interest in property (real or personal).



A written agreement conveying real property (land) from one person to another, or transferring title, in exchange for a specified term called the consideration.


To give or bequeath land, or real property, in a will. In contrast, the words “bequeath”, and “bequest” refer to the disposition of personal property. We devise land; we bequeath personal property.


The person to whom land, or real property, is given or bequeathed in a will.


A person giving or bequeathing land, or real property, in a will.


Under common law, curtesy is a husband’s life interest upon the death of his wife in the real property (land) that she solely owned or inherited during their marriage if they had children born alive capable of inheriting the estate.



Under the European feudal system, enfeoffment was the deed that conveyed land to a person in exchange for a pledge of service.


To settle or limit the succession to real property to specified heirs, generally in a manner different from that set out by law; to create a Fee Tail.


Reversion of property from an individual back to the state by reason of default. This was often for reasons such as property abandonment or death with no qualified heirs. Most often seen in the original 13 colonies.


The degree and duration of an individual’s interest in a tract of land. The type of estate may have genealogical significance—see Fee Simple, Fee Tail (Entail), and Life Estate.


Family Assets

An asset owned by two spouses or common-law partners or either of them and used for shelter or transportation, or for household, educational, recreational, social, or aesthetic purposes, including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing.

Family Businesses

A commercial organisation in which decision-making is influenced by multiple generations of a family, related by blood or marriage or adoption, who has both the ability to influence the vision of the business and the willingness to use this ability to pursue distinctive goals.

Family Members

Any child, stepchild, grandchild, parent, stepparent, grandparent, spouse, former spouse, sibling, niece, nephew, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law (including adoptive relationships) of the Participant, any person sharing the Participant’s household (other than a tenant or employee), a trust in which these persons (or the Participant) have more than 50% of the beneficial interest, a foundation in which these persons (or the Participant) control the management of assets, and any other entity in which these persons (or the Participant) own more than 50% of the voting interests.

Fee Simple

Absolute title to property without any limitation or condition; ownership of land that is inheritable.


Land owned outright for an indeterminate duration, rather than leased or held for a specified period.

Fee Tail

An interest or title in real property that prevents the owner from selling, dividing, or devising the property during his lifetime, and requires that it descend to a particular class of heir, typically lineal descendants of the original grantee (e.g. “the male heirs of his body forever”).



All of the processes of governing – whether undertaken by the government of a state, by a market or by a network – over a social system (family, tribe, formal or informal organisation, a territory or across territories) and whether through the laws, norms, power or language of an organised society.

Grant or Land Grant

The process by which land is transferred from a government or proprietor to the first private owner or title holder of a piece of property. See also: patent.


A person who buys, purchases or receives property.


A person who sells, gives or transfers property.



The right to a grant of certain acreage in a colony or province—or the certificate granting that right—often awarded as a means of encouraging immigration to and settlement within that colony. Headrights could be sold or assigned to another individual by the person eligible for the headright.



Another word for “contract” or “agreement.” Deeds are often identified as indentures.



A contract conferring possession of land, and any profits of the land, for life or a certain period as long as the terms of the contract (e.g. rent) continue to be met. In some cases the contract of the lease may allow the lessee to sell or devise the land, but the land still reverts to the owner at the end of the specified period.

Life Estate or Life Interest

The right of an individual to a certain property only during their lifetime. He or she cannot sell or devise the land to someone else. After the individual dies, the title transfers according to law, or the document which created the life interest.



A dwelling house. A “messuage with appurtenances” transfers both the house, but also the buildings and gardens belonging to it. In some deeds, the use of “messuage” or “messuage of land” appears to indicate land with an accompanying dwelling house.


A mortgage is a conditional transfer of property title contingent on repayment of a debt or other conditions. If conditions are met within the specified period, the title remains with the original owner.



The legal process by which a parcel or lot of land is divided between several joint owners (e.g. siblings who jointly inherited the land of their father upon his death). Also called a “division.”

Patent or Land Patent

An official title to land, or certificate, transferring land from a colony, state, or other governmental body to an individual; transfers ownership from the government to the private sector. Patent and grant are often used interchangeably, although grant typically refers to the exchange of land, while patent refers to the document officially transferring the title.


The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a document giving a person the right to act for another person, usually to transact specific business, such as the sale of land.


The common law right for the first-born male to inherit all real property upon the death of his father. When a deed between father and son did not survive or was not recorded, but later deeds document the son selling more property than he bought, it is possible that he inherited through primogeniture. Comparing deeds of possible fathers for a matching property description may help to determine the father’s identity.


Determining the boundaries of a tract of land by physically walking them in the company of an assigned processioner to confirm markers and bounds and renew the property lines. Owners of adjoining tracts often chose to attend the processioning as well, to protect their vested interest.


An individual granted ownership (or partial ownership) of a colony along with the full prerogatives of establishing a government and distributing land.


Real Property

Land and anything which is attached to it, including buildings, crops, trees, fences, etc.



Ownership of a specific tract of land; the document stating that ownership.


A specified area of land, sometimes called a parcel.



A document or authorisation certifying the individual’s right to a certain number of acres in a certain area. This entitled the individual to hire (at his own cost) an official surveyor, or to accept a prior survey.

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