Remainder (law)

In property law of the United Kingdom and the United States and other common law countries, a remainder is a future interest given to a person (who is referred to as the transferee or remainderman) that is capable of becoming possessory upon the natural end of a prior estate created by the same instrument. Thus, the prior estate must be one that is capable of ending naturally, for example upon the expiration of a term of years or the death of a life tenant. A future interest following a fee simple absolute cannot be a remainder because of the preceding infinite duration.

For example, a person, D, gives ("conveys") a piece of real property called Blackacre "to A for life, and then to B and her heirs". A receives a life estate in Blackacre and B holds a remainder, which can become possessory when the prior estate naturally terminates (A's death). However, B cannot claim the property until A's death.

There are two types of remainders in property law, vested and contingent. A vested remainder is held by a specific person without any conditions precedent; a contingent remainder is one for which the holder has not been identified, or for which a condition precedent must be satisfied.[1]

Vested remainder

A remainder is vested if (1) the remainder is given to a presently existing and ascertained person, and (2) it is not subject to a condition precedent. A vested remainder may be indefeasibly vested, meaning that it is certain to become possessory in the future, and cannot be divested. An example, O conveys to "A for life, then to B and B's heirs." B has an "indefeasibly vested remainder" certain to become possessory upon termination of A's life estate. B or B's heirs will clearly be entitled to possession upon A’s death. A vested remainder may not be certain to become possessory. An example of this: O conveys "to A for life, then to A's children." A has one child, B, so B has a vested remainder because B is ascertainable. But, A may have no other children in his life, and B could die before A, so the vested remainder is not certain to become possessory. Instead B is said to have a vested interest subject to partial (more children) and complete divestment (if B dies before A).

Other Languages