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Definition of Will

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This is a legal document detailing how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death. You may also stipulate how you wish to be buried or who you would like to take care of any surviving dependent family members. In my opinion, it is very important to be quite specific about your wishes for the distribution of special assets such as the antique grandfather clock, the classic silver tea set or the antique piano. If you think that your beneficiaries may dispute how your things are to be distributed, consider stipulating that an auction be held in which all beneficiaries may bid on the item which they value and all moneys collected are then shared in the same manner in which you distributed your other liquid assets. Your might want to remember that a will is automatically revoked upon marriage unless the will specifically states that the will is made in contemplation of marriage.

Related Terms:


Excess of the purchase price over the fair market value of the net assets acquired under purchase


The excess of the price paid to buy another company over the book value of
its assets and the increase in cost of its fixed assets to fair market value.


Intangible assets of a firm established by the excess of the price paid for the going concern over the value of its assets.

Living Will

This is a will which specifically expresses the testator's desire not to be kept alive on life support machines, should the occasion arise.

Negative goodwill

A term used to describe a situation in which a business combination
results in the fair market value of all assets purchased being more than the purchase

accounts payable

Short-term, non-interest-bearing liabilities of a business
that arise in the course of its activities and operations from purchases on
credit. A business buys many things on credit, whereby the purchase
cost of goods and services are not paid for immediately. This liability
account records the amounts owed for credit purchases that will be paid
in the short run, which generally means about one month.

accounts receivable

Short-term, non-interest-bearing debts owed to a
business by its customers who bought goods and services from the business
on credit. Generally, these debts should be collected within a month
or so. In a balance sheet, this asset is listed immediately after cash.
(Actually the amount of short-term marketable investments, if the business
has any, is listed after cash and before accounts receivable.)
Accounts receivable are viewed as a near-cash type of asset that will be
turned into cash in the short run. A business may not collect all of its
accounts receivable. See also bad debts.

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Accumulated depreciation

A contra-fixed asset account representing the portion of the cost of a fixed asset that has been previously charged to expense. Each fixed asset account will have its own associated accumulated depreciation account.

Allowance for doubtful accounts

A contra account related to accounts receivable that represents the amounts that the company expects will not be collected.


The write-off of an asset over the period when the asset is used. This term
is most commonly applied to the gradual write-down of intangible items, such as
goodwill or organizational costs.

Amortization Schedule

A schedule that shows precisely how a loan will be repaid. The schedule gives the required payment on each specific date and shows how much of it constitutes interest and how much constitutes repayments of principal.

Arm's length price

The price at which a willing buyer and a willing unrelated seller would freely agree to


This is the quoted ask, or the lowest price an investor will accept to sell a stock. Practically speaking, this
is the quoted offer at which an investor can buy shares of stock; also called the offer price.


Assuris is a not for profit organization that protects Canadian policyholders in the event that their life insurance company should become insolvent. Their role is to protect policyholders by minimizing loss of benefits and ensuring a quick transfer of their policies to a solvent company where their benefits will continue to be honoured. Assuris is funded by the life insurance industry and endorsed by government. If you are a Canadian citizen or resident, and you purchased a product from a member life insurance company in Canada, you are protected by Assuris.
All life insurance companies authorized to sell in Canada are required, by the federal, provincial and territorial regulators, to become members of Assuris. Members cannot terminate their membership as long as they are licensed to write business in Canada or have any in force business in Canada.
If your life insurance company fails, your policies will be transferred to a solvent company. Assuris guarantees that you will retain at least 85% of the insurance benefits you were promised. Insurance benefits include Death, Health Expense, Monthly Income and Cash Value. Your deposit type products will also be transferred to a solvent company. For these products, Assuris guarantees that you will retain 100% of your Accumulated Value up to $100,000. Deposit type products include accumulation annuities, universal life overflow accounts, premium deposit accounts and dividend deposit accounts. The key to Assuris protection is that it is applied to all benefits of a similar type. If you have more than one policy with the failed company, you will need to add together all similar benefits before applying the Assuris protection. The Assuris website can be found at

Attribution Rules

Legislation under which interest, dividends, or capital gains earned on assets you transfer to your spouse will be treated as your own for tax purposes. Interest or dividends relating to property transferred to children under 18 also will be attributed back to you. The exception to this rule is that capital gains relating to property transferred to children under 18 will not be attributed back to you.

bad debts

Refers to accounts receivable from credit sales to customers
that a business will not be able to collect (or not collect in full). In hindsight,
the business shouldn’t have extended credit to these particular
customers. Since these amounts owed to the business will not be collected,
they are written off. The accounts receivable asset account is
decreased by the estimated amount of uncollectible receivables, and the
bad debts expense account is increased this amount. These write-offs
can be done by the direct write-off method, which means that no
expense is recorded until specific accounts receivable are identified as
uncollectible. Or the allowance method can be used, which is based on
an estimated percent of bad debts from credit sales during the period.
Under this method, a contra asset account is created (called allowance
for bad debts) and the balance of this account is deducted from the
accounts receivable asset account.

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BAN (Bank anticipation notes)

Notes issued by states and municipalities to obtain interim financing for
projects that will eventually be funded long term through the sale of a bond issue.

Bankruptcy risk

The risk that a firm will be unable to meet its debt obligations. Also referred to as default or insolvency risk.


An investor who believes a stock or the overall market will decline. A bear market is a prolonged period
of falling stock prices, usually by 20% or more. Related: bull.

Benchmark interest rate

Also called the base interest rate, it is the minimum interest rate investors will
demand for investing in a non-Treasury security. It is also tied to the yield to maturity offered on a
comparable-maturity Treasury security that was most recently issued ("on-the-run").


This is the person who benefits from the terms of a trust, a will, an RRSP, a RRIF, a LIF, an annuity or a life insurance policy. In relation to RRSP's, RRIF's, LIF's, Annuities and of course life insurance, if the beneficiary is a spouse, parent, offspring or grand-child, they are considered to be a preferred beneficiary. If the insured has named a preferred beneficiary, the death benefit is invariably protected from creditors. There have been some court challenges of this right of protection but so far they have been unsuccessful. See "Creditor Protection" below. A beneficiary under the age of 18 must be represented by an individual guardian over the age of 18 or a public official who represents minors generally. A policy owner may, in the designation of a beneficiary, appoint someone to act as trustee for a minor. Death benefits are not subject to income taxes. If you make your beneficiary your estate, the death benefit will be included in your assets for probate. Probate filing fees are currently $14 per thousand of estate value in British Columbia and $15 per thousand of estate value in Ontario.
Another way to avoid probate fees or creditor claims against life insurance proceeds is for the insured person to designate and register with his/her insurance company's head office an irrevocable beneficiary. By making such a designation, the insured gives up the right to make any changes to his/her policy without the consent of the irrevocable beneficiary. Because of the seriousness of the implications, an irrevocable designation should only be made for good reason and where the insured fully understands the consequences.
NoteA successful challenge of the rules relating to beneficiaries was concluded in an Ontario court in 1996. The Insurance Act says its provisions relating to beneficiaries are made "notwithstanding the Succession Law Reform Act." There are two relevent provisions of the Succession Law Reform Act. One section of the act gives a judge the power to make any order concerning an estate if the deceased person has failed to provide for a dependant. Another section says money from a life insurance policy can be considered part of the estate if an order is made to support a dependant. In the case in question, the deceased had attempted to deceive his lawful dependents by making his common-law-spouse the beneficiary of an insurance policy which by court order was supposed to name his ex-spouse and children as beneficiaries.

Beneficiary (Credit Insurance)

The person or party designated to receive proceeds entitled by a benefit. Payment of a benefit is triggered by an event. In the case of credit insurance, the beneficiary will always be the creditor.

Bid price

This is the quoted bid, or the highest price an investor is willing to pay to buy a security. Practically
speaking, this is the available price at which an investor can sell shares of stock. Related: Ask , offer.

big bath

A street-smart term that refers to the practice by many businesses
of recording very large lump-sum write-offs of certain assets or
recording large amounts for pending liabilities triggered by business
restructurings, massive employee layoffs, disposals of major segments of
the business, and other major traumas in the life of a business. Businesses
have been known to use these occasions to record every conceivable
asset write-off and/or liability write-up that they can think of in
order to clear the decks for the future. In this way a business avoids
recording expenses in the future, and its profits in the coming years will
be higher. The term is derisive, but investors generally seem very forgiving
regarding the abuses of this accounting device. But you never
know—investors may cast a more wary eye on this practice in the future.

Big Bath

A wholesale write-down of assets and accrual of liabilities in an effort to make the
balance sheet particularly conservative so that there will be fewer expenses to serve as a drag on future earnings.

Bill and Hold Practices

Products that have been sold with an explicit agreement that delivery
will occur at a later, often yet-to-be-determined, date.
Capitalize To report an expenditure or accrual as an asset as opposed to expensing it and charging it against earnings currently.

Bill of lading

A contract between the exporter and a transportation company in which the latter agrees to
transport the goods under specified conditions which limit its liability. It is the exporter's receipt for the goods
as well as proof that goods have been or will be received.

Bill of materials

An itemization of the parts and subassemblies required to create a
product, frequently including assumed scrap rates that will arise as part of the production

Bond indexing

Designing a portfolio so that its performance will match the performance of some bond index.


To obtain or receive money on loan with the promise or understanding that it will be repaid.

Borrower fallout

In the mortgage pipeline, the risk that prospective borrowers of loans committed to be
closed will elect to withdraw from the contract.

Break-even payment rate

The prepayment rate of a MBS coupon that will produce the same CFY as that of
a predetermined benchmark MBS coupon. Used to identify for coupons higher than the benchmark coupon
the prepayment rate that will produce the same CFY as that of the benchmark coupon; and for coupons lower
than the benchmark coupon the lowest prepayment rate that will do so.

budget slack

an intentional underestimation of revenues
and/or overestimation of expenses in a budgeting process
for the purpose of including deviations that are likely to
occur so that results will occur within budget limits


An investor who thinks the market will rise. Related: bear.

Business risk

The risk that the cash flow of an issuer will be impaired because of adverse economic
conditions, making it difficult for the issuer to meet its operating expenses.

Buy/Sell Agreement

This is an agreement entered into by the owners of a business to define the conditions under which the interests of each shareholder will be bought and sold. The agreement sets the value of each shareholders interest and stipulates what happens when one of the owners wishes to dispose of his/her interest during his/her lifetime as well as disposal of interest upon death or disability. Life insurance, critical illness coverage and disability insurance are major considerations to help fund this type of agreement.


Interest-rate option that guarantees that the rate on a floating-rate loan
will not exceed a certain level.

Capital Investments

Money used to purchase fixed assets for a business, such as land, buildings, or machinery. Also, money invested in a business on the understanding that it will be used to purchase permanent assets rather than to cover day-to-day operating expenses.


A purchase that has been recorded on the company books as an asset. The
grounds for capitalizing an item include a purchase price that is higher than a minimum
limit (known as the capitalization limit) and an estimated lifetime for the item
that will exceed one year.

cash burn rate

A relatively recent term that refers to how fast a business
is using up its available cash, especially when its cash flow from operating
activities is negative instead of positive. This term most often refers
to a business struggling through its start-up or early phases that has not
yet generated enough cash inflow from sales to cover its cash outflow for
expenses (and perhaps never will).

Cash-flow break-even point

The point below which the firm will need either to obtain additional financing
or to liquidate some of its assets to meet its fixed costs.

Cash-surrender value

An amount the insurance company will pay if the policyholder ends a whole life
insurance policy.

Claim dilution

A reduction in the likelihood one or more of the firm's claimants will be fully repaid,
including time value of money considerations.


A co-borrower is the secondary borrower on a borrowing account. The primary borrower will receive mailed monthly statements while the co-borrower has the option to choose whether or not he/she will also receive statements.


Interest-rate option that guarantees that the rate on a floating-rate
loan will not exceed a certain upper level nor fall below a lower level. It is
designed to protect an investor against wide fluctuations in interest rates.

Commercial risk

The risk that a foreign debtor will be unable to pay its debts because of business events,
such as bankruptcy.

Completion bonding

Insurance that a construction contract will be successfully completed.

Completion risk

The risk that a project will not be brought into operation successfully.

confrontation strategy

an organizational strategy in which company management decides to confront, rather than avoid, competition; an organizational strategy in which company management still attempts to differentiate company
products through new features or to develop a price
leadership position by dropping prices, even though management
recognizes that competitors will rapidly bring out
similar products and match price changes; an organizational
strategy in which company management identifies
and exploits current opportunities for competitive advantage
in recognition of the fact that those opportunities will
soon be eliminated

Conversion ratio

The number of shares of common stock that the security holder will receive from
exercising the call option of a convertible security.


The expense incurred to create and sell a product or service. If a product is not
sold, then it is recorded as an asset, whereas the sale of a product or service will
result in the recording of all related costs as an expense.

Cost of capital

The blended cost of a company’s currently outstanding debt instruments
and equity, weighted by the comparative proportions of each one. During a capital
budgeting review, the expected return from a capital purchase must exceed this cost
of capital, or else a company will experience a net loss on the transaction.

Counterparty risk

The risk that the other party to an agreement will default. In an options contract, the risk
to the option buyer that the option writer will not buy or sell the underlying as agreed.
Country economic risk Developments in a national economy that can affect the outcome of an international
financial transaction.

Coverdell Education IRA

A form of individual retirement account whose earnings
during the period when funds are stored in the IRA will be tax free at the
time when they are used to pay for the cost of advanced education.

Covered or hedge option strategies

Strategies that involve a position in an option as well as a position in the
underlying stock, designed so that one position will help offset any unfavorable price movement in the other,
including covered call writing and protective put buying. Related: naked strategies

credit analysis

Procedure to determine the likelihood a customer will pay its bills.

Credit Crunch

A decline in the ability or willingness of banks to lend.

Credit Rationing

Restriction of loans by lenders so that not all borrowers willing to pay the current interest rate are able to obtain loans.

Credit Risk

Financial and moral risk that an obligation will not be paid and a loss will result.

Creditor Proof Protection

The creditor proof status of such things as life insurance, non-registered life insurance investments, life insurance RRSPs and life insurance RRIFs make these attractive products for high net worth individuals, professionals and business owners who may have creditor concerns. Under most circumstances the creditor proof rules of the different provincial insurance acts take priority over the federal bankruptcy rules.
The provincial insurance acts protect life insurance products which have a family class beneficiary. Family class beneficiaries include the spouse, parent, child or grandchild of the life insured, except in Quebec, where creditor protection rules apply to spouse, ascendants and descendants of the insured. Investments sold by other financial institutions do not offer the same security should the holder go bankrupt. There are also circumstances under which the creditor proof protections do not hold for life insurance products. Federal bankruptcy law disallows the protection for any transfers made within one year of bankruptcy. In addition, should it be found that a person shifted money to an insurance company fund in bad faith for the specific purpose of avoiding creditors, these funds will not be creditor proof.

Cumulative probability distribution

A function that shows the probability that the random variable will
attain a value less than or equal to each value that the random variable can take on.

Current assets

Cash, things that will be converted into cash within a year (such as accounts receivable), and inventory.

current assets

Current refers to cash and those assets that will be turned
into cash in the short run. Five types of assets are classified as current:
cash, short-term marketable investments, accounts receivable, inventories,
and prepaid expenses—and they are generally listed in this order in
the balance sheet.

current liabilities

Current means that these liabilities require payment in
the near term. Generally, these include accounts payable, accrued
expenses payable, income tax payable, short-term notes payable, and
the portion of long-term debt that will come due during the coming year.
Keep in mind that a business may roll over its debt; the old, maturing
debt may be replaced in part or in whole by new borrowing.


An entity that stands ready and willing to buy a security for its own account (at its bid price) or sell
from its own account (at its ask price).

Debt Capacity

An assessment of ability and willingness to repay a loan from anticipated future cash flow or other sources.

Debt displacement

The amount of borrowing that leasing displaces. Firms that do a lot of leasing will be
forced to cut back on borrowing.

Debt service parity approach

An analysis wherein the alternatives under consideration will provide the firm
with the exact same schedule of after-tax debt payments (including both interest and principal).

deferred compensation

pay related to current performance
that will be received at a later time, typically after retirement

Deferred equity

A common term for convertible bonds because of their equity component and the
expectation that the bond will ultimately be converted into shares of common stock.

degree of operating leverage

a factor that indicates how a percentage change in sales, from the existing or current
level, will affect company profits; it is calculated as contribution
margin divided by net income; it is equal to (1 - margin of safety percentage)

Deliverable instrument

The asset in a forward contract that will be delivered in the future at an agree-upon price.

Delivery options

The options available to the seller of an interest rate futures contract, including the quality
option, the timing option, and the wild card option. Delivery options make the buyer uncertain of which
Treasury Bond will be delivered or when it will be delivered.

Delivery policy

A company’s stated goal for how soon a customer order will be
shipped following receipt of that order.


An amount desired, in the sense that people are willing and able to pay to obtain this amount. Always associated with a given price.

differentiation strategy

a technique for avoiding competition by distinguishing a product or service from that of competitors through adding sufficient value (including quality and/or features) that customers are willing to pay
a higher price than that charged by competitors

Disability Insurance

Insurance that pays you an ongoing income if you become disabled and are unable to pursue employment or business activities. There are limits to how much you can receive based on your pre-disability earnings. Rates will vary based on occupational duties and length of time in a particular industry. This kind of coverage has a waiting period before you can begin collecting benefits, usually 30, 60 or 90 days. The benefit paying period also varies from 2 years to age 65. A short waiting period will cost more that a longer waiting period. As well, a long benefit paying period will cost more than a short benefit paying period.

Discounted basis

Selling something on a discounted basis is selling below what its value will be at maturity,
so that the difference makes up all or part of the interest.


After a Treasury auction, there will be many new issues in dealer's hands. As those issues are
sold, it is said that they are distributed.

Dividend policy

An established guide for the firm to determine the amount of money it will pay as dividends.

Documented discount notes

Commercial paper backed by normal bank lines plus a letter of credit from a
bank stating that it will pay off the paper at maturity if the borrower does not. Such paper is also referred to as
LOC (letter of credit) paper.

Dollar-weighted rate of return

Also called the internal rate of return, the interest rate that will make the
present value of the cash flows from all the subperiods in the evaluation period plus the terminal market value
of the portfolio equal to the initial market value of the portfolio.

Economic exposure

The extent to which the value of the firm will change because of an exchange rate change.

economic order quantity (EOQ)

an estimate of the number
of units per order that will be the least costly and provide
the optimal balance between the costs of ordering
and the costs of carrying inventory

Economic risk

In project financing, the risk that the project's output will not be salable at a price that will
cover the project's operating and maintenance costs and its debt service requirements.

Effective duration

The duration calculated using the approximate duration formula for a bond with an
embedded option, reflecting the expected change in the cash flow caused by the option. Measures the
responsiveness of a bond's price taking into account the expected cash flows will change as interest rates
change due to the embedded option.

Efficient diversification

The organizing principle of modern portfolio theory, which maintains that any riskaverse
investor will search for the highest expected return for any level of portfolio risk.

Efficient Market Hypothesis

In general the hypothesis states that all relevant information is fully and
immediately reflected in a security's market price thereby assuming that an investor will obtain an equilibrium
rate of return. In other words, an investor should not expect to earn an abnormal return (above the market
return) through either technical analysis or fundamental analysis. Three forms of efficient market hypothesis
exist: weak form (stock prices reflect all information of past prices), semi-strong form (stock prices reflect all
publicly available information) and strong form (stock prices reflect all relevant information including insider

Event risk

The risk that the ability of an issuer to make interest and principal payments will change because
of rare, discontinuous, and very large, unanticipated changes in the market environment such as (1) a natural
or industrial accident or some regulatory change or (2) a takeover or corporate restructuring.

Ex-dividend date

The first day of trading when the seller, rather than the buyer, of a stock will be entitled to
the most recently announced dividend payment. This date set by the NYSE (and generally followed on other
US exchanges) is currently two business days before the record date. A stock that has gone ex-dividend is
marked with an x in newspaper listings on that date.

Expected return-beta relationship

Implication of the CAPM that security risk premiums will be
proportional to beta.

Expiration cycle

An expiration cycle relates to the dates on which options on a particular security expire. A
given option will be placed in 1 of 3 cycles, the January cycle, the February cycle, or the March cycle. At any
point in time, an option will have contracts with 4 expiration dates outstanding, 2 in near-term months and 2
in far-term months.

Expiration date

The last day (in the case of American-style) or the only day (in the case of European-style)
on which an option may be exercised. For stock options, this date is the Saturday immediately following the
3rd Friday of the expiration month; however, brokerage firms may set an earlier deadline for notification of
an option holder's intention to exercise. If Friday is a holiday, the last trading day will be the preceding

Fair market value

The price that an asset or service will fetch on the open market.

Fair Value

The amount at which an asset could be purchased or sold or a liability incurred or
settled in a current transaction between willing and informed parties. When a quoted market price
is available, fair value is the product of the number of units in question times that market price.
That product also is referred to as the item's market value. For traded securities, the terms fair
value and market value are synonymous. When no quoted market price is available for the item
in question, fair value must be estimated.

Financial objectives

Objectives of a financial nature that the firm will strive to accomplish during the period
covered by its financial plan.

Financial risk

The risk that the cash flow of an issuer will not be adequate to meet its financial obligations.
Also referred to as the additional risk that a firm's stockholder bears when the firm utilizes debt and equity.

financing decision

a judgment made regarding the method
of raising funds that will be used to make acquisitions; it
is based on an entity’s ability to issue and service debt and
equity securities

Fixed cost

A cost that does not vary in the short run, irrespective of changes in any
cost drivers. For example, the rent on a building will not change until the lease
runs out or is re-negotiated, irrespective of the level of business activity within
that building.







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