QTIP trust

A type of trust for wealthy married couples that allows a surviving spouse to postpone estate taxes. A QTIP trust allows the surviving spouse to make use of the trust property tax-free. Taxes are deferred until the surviving spouse dies and the trust property is received by the final trust beneficiaries, who were named by the first spouse to die.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

A court order that uses pension or retirement benefits to provide alimony or child support, or to divide marital property, at divorce.This special order is necessary to comply with federal law governing retirement pay.

Qualified Medical Child Support Order (QMSCO)

A court order that provides health benefit coverage for the child of the noncustodial parent under that parent’s group health plan.

Quantum meruit

Latin for “as much as he deserved,” the actual value of services performed. Quantum meruit determines the amount to be paid for services when no contract exists or when there is doubt as to the amount due for the work performed but done under circumstances when payment could be expected. This may include a physician’s emergency aid, legal work when there was no contract, or evaluating the amount due when outside forces cause a job to be terminated unexpectedly. If a person sues for payment for services in such circumstances the judge or jury will calculate the amount due based on time and usual rate of pay or the customary charge, based on quantum meruit by implying a contract existed.The reasonable value of services provided, which a winning party may be able to recover from an opponent who broke a contract.

Quash

v. to annul or set aside. In law, a motion to quash asks the judge for an order setting aside or nullifying an action, such as “quashing” service of a summons when the wrong person was served.

Quasi

Latin for “as if,” almost, somewhat, to a degree (always used in combination with another word). Quasi refers to things and actions which are not exactly or fully what they might appear, but have to be treated “as if” they were.

Quasi community property

n. in community property states, property acquired by a couple who have not been married, but have lived and purchased the property as if they were married. Often this includes property purchased or received by a couple shortly before marriage.

Quasi contract

n. a situation in which there is an obligation as if there was a contract, although the technical requirements of a contract have not been fulfilled.

Quasi corporation

n. a business which has operated as a corporation without completing the legal requirements, often in the period just before formal incorporation.

Quasi in rem

adj. referring to a legal action which is primarily based on property rights, but includes personal rights as well.

Quasi-criminal

adj. a reference to a court’s right to punish for actions or omissions as if they were criminal. The most common example is finding a parent who is delinquent in child support in contempt of court and penalizing him/her with a jail sentence. If a hearing is quasi-criminal the quasi-defendant is entitled to all due process protections afforded a criminal defendant.

Quasi-judicial

adj., adv. referring to the actions of an agency, boards or other government entity in which there are hearings, orders, judgments or other activities similar to those conducted by courts. Example: a public utilities hearing on setting telephone company rates is quasi-judicial.

Queen’s Bench

n. 1) the highest court in Great Britain during the reign of a Queen, so that opinions are identified as a volume of Queen’s Bench (QB). 2) in the United States, organizations of women lawyers, dating from when women were a small minority of practicing attorneys and needed to encourage each other, urge employment of women attorneys, protect against discrimination and promote the cause of equality for women lawyers. Recent bar admissions now include close to 50 percent women.

Query

n. common lawyer lingo for a question to be answered.

Question of fact

n. in a lawsuit or criminal prosecution, an issue of fact in which the truth or falsity (or a mix of the two) must be determined by the “trier of fact” (the jury or the judge in a non-jury trial) in order to reach a decision in the case. A “question of fact” may also be raised in a motion for summary judgment which asks the court to determine whether there are any questions of fact to be tried, allowing the judge to rule on the case (usually to dismiss the complaint) at that point without a trial. “Questions of fact” are distinguished from “questions of law,” which can only be decided by the judge.

Question of law

n. an issue arising in a lawsuit or criminal prosecution which only relates to determination of what the law is, how it is applied to the facts in the case, and other purely legal points in contention. All “questions of law” arising before, during and sometimes after a trial are to be determined solely by the judge and not by the jury. “Questions of law” are differentiated from “questions of fact,” which are decided by the jury and only by the judge if there is no jury.

Qui tam action

Latin for “who as well,” a lawsuit brought by a private citizen (popularly called a “whistle blower”) against a person or company who is believed to have violated the law in the performance of a contract with the government or in violation of a government regulation, when there is a statute which provides for a penalty for such violations. Qui tam suits are brought for “the government as well as the plaintiff.” In a qui tam action the plaintiff (the person bringing the suit) will be entitled to a percentage of the recovery of the penalty (which may include large amounts for breach of contract) as a reward for exposing the wrongdoing and recovering funds for the government. Sometimes the federal or state government will intervene and become a party to the suit in order to guarantee success and be part of any negotiations and conduct of the case. This type of action is generally based on significant violations which involve fraudulent or criminal acts, and not technical violations and/or errors.

Quid pro quo

Latin for “something for something,” to identify what each party to an agreement expects from the other, sometimes called mutual consideration. Example of its use: “What is the quid pro quo for my entering into this deal?

Quiet enjoyment

The right of a property owner or tenant to enjoy his or her property without interference. Disruption of quiet enjoyment may constitute a nuisance. Leases and rental agreements often contain a “covenant of quiet enjoyment,” expressly obligating the landlord to see that tenants have the opportunity to live undisturbed.

Quiet title action

n. a lawsuit to establish a party’s title to real property against anyone and everyone, and thus “quiet” any challenges or claims to the title. Such a suit usually arises when there is some question about clear title, there exists some recorded problem (such as an old lease or failure to clear title after payment of a mortgage), an error in description which casts doubt on the amount of property owned, or an easement used for years without a recorded description. An action for quiet title requires description of the property to be “quieted,” naming as defendants anyone who might have an interest (including descendants-known or unknown- of prior owners), and the factual and legal basis for the claim of title. Notice must be given to all potentially interested parties, including known and unknown, by publication. If the court is convinced title is in the plaintiff (the plaintiff owns the title), a quiet title judgment will be granted which can be recorded and thus provide legal “good title.” Quiet title actions are a common example of “friendly” lawsuits in which often there is no opposition.

Quit

v. to leave, used in a written notice to a tenant to leave the premises (notice to quit).

Quitclaim deed

A deed that transfers whatever ownership interest the transferor has in a particular property. The deed does not guarantee anything about what is being transferred, however. For example, a divorcing husband may quitclaim his interest in certain real estate to his ex-wife, officially giving up any legal interest in the property.

Quo warranto

n. the name for a writ (order) used to challenge another’s right to either public or corporate office or challenge the legality of a corporation to its charter (articles).

Quorum

n. the number of people required to be present before a meeting can conduct business. Unless stated differently in bylaws, articles, regulations or other rules established by the organization, a quorum is usually a majority of members. A quorum for meetings of corporate boards of directors, homeowners’ associations, clubs and shareholders meetings are usually set in the bylaws. The quorum for meetings of governmental bodies such as commissions and boards are usually set by statute.

Quotient verdict

n. an award of money damages set by a jury in a lawsuit in which each juror states in writing his/her opinion of what the amount should be. Then the amounts are totalled and divided by the number of jurors to reach a figure for the award. A quotient verdict is illegal and improper since it is based on guesses and not a rational discussion of the facts. Such a judgment will be set aside on a motion for a new trial and a mistrial will be declared by the judge.