The undersigned agree that this Fee Protection is assignable and transferable to the beneficiaries, designs, heirs and assigns upon written notice of all parties, and shall not be amended without the express written consent of the parties.

Source: Irrevocable Payorder & Fee Protection

  • What's the meaning of “designs” in the above clause?

I searched its definition in the law dictionary and found the following:

In the law of evidence. Purpose or intention, combined with plan, or implying a plan in the mind.

There isn't much difference between the common term 'design' and the legal term 'design'.

Considering this clause is used commonly, I doubt that design is incorrect or changed to designee.

  • 1
    Please include the research you have already done. Click the "research" link in the post notice for examples. Please note that ELU is not a dictionary lookup service.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 10:22
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    @AndrewLeach You want me to post meaningless and unproductive web search history for what? To prove that I'm not a free-rider? My friend uploaded this question on his facebook wall but he didn't get any meaningful help. I searched online but I couldn't find any related materials, which is why I uploaded this question on this site. Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 10:27
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    It's not meaningless or unproductive. It stops others repeating what you have already done.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 10:30
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    What was the definition of the legal term "design" that you found? It would be nice to know and might help people answer your question.
    – herisson
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 11:50
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    The clause as you quote it is not used commonly. Similar clauses (without "designs") are found frequently in legal documents. Considering that beneficiaries, heirs, and assigns are all designees, I'm not sure why you think that's not the term intended.
    – deadrat
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


There are four legal terms in the sentence, i.e. beneficiaries, designs, heirs and assigns.

The meanings of beneficiaries and heirs are clear. And the sentence used assign to mean assginee. The noun assign is listed in the dictionary:

another term for assignee (sense 1): this agreement shall be binding upon the parties and their successors and assigns.

Sense 1 of assignee:

chiefly Law: A person to whom a right or liability is legally transferred.

Now, I checked Etymology Online Dictionary and to design and to designate have the same etymology as follows:

1540s, from Latin designare "mark out, devise, choose, designate, appoint," from de- "out" (see de-) + signare "to mark," from signum "a mark, sign" (see sign (n.)). Originally in English with the meaning now attached to designate; many modern uses of design are metaphoric extensions.

To designate:

As a verb, from 1791, from designate (adj.)( or else a back-formation from designation. Related: Designated; designating.

The adverb designate:

1640s, from Latin designatus, past participle of designare (see design (v.)).

You can clearly see that the two words, design and designate came from the same Latin word designare that means to choose, designate or appoint.

The word design seems to mean "people who are chosen/appointed/designated", but it is not listed in the dictionary because its usage outside legal documents is rare. Personally, I found its usage only in legal documents, but I might be wrong.

As the noun assign was used to mean assginee, the word design should be interpreted in the same way even though we can't find the words in the dictionary.

As commented above, designs are broadly used in legal documents and it should be understood from its etymology as explained above.

[Oxford Online Dictionary, Online Etymology Dictionary]

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