Executory Remainder

Executory Remainder
Executory Remainder
Full Overview Of Executory Remainder

In estate planning and probate law, it’s crucial for both legal professionals and clients to understand various forms of property interests. One such interest is the executory remainder, a future interest in property that is particularly complex and nuanced. This overview aims to clarify the concept of executory remainder by explaining its legal framework, types, key characteristics, and practical considerations. By the end of this document, readers will have a comprehensive understanding of executory remainders and their implications in estate planning and property law.


The concept of an executory remainder is rooted in the principles of English property law. It is a type of future interest that becomes possessory upon the occurrence of a specific event or condition. Executory remainders are distinct from other future interests, such as vested remainders or contingent remainders, due to their specific conditions and the way they operate.

The legal foundation for executory remainders can be traced back to the Statute of Uses 1535 and the Law of Property Act 1925, which modernised and codified many aspects of property law, including future interests. These statutes provide the framework within which executory remainders operate, ensuring their recognition and enforceability under English law.

Key Characteristics of Executory Remainders

  1. Future Interest: An executory remainder is a future interest in the property, meaning that the holder has no current rights to possess or use the property but will acquire those rights upon the occurrence of a specified event.
  2. Condition Precedent: The interest is contingent upon a condition precedent, which is an event or action that must occur before the interest can become possessory. This distinguishes executory remainders from vested remainders, which are not contingent on such conditions.
  3. Divestment: Executory remainders can divest or cut short another estate. For example, if a property is given to A, but if a certain event occurs, the property will pass to B, B holds an executory remainder.
  4. Shifting and Springing Interests: Executory remainders can be classified into two types:
    • Shifting Executory Interest: This shifts from one grantee to another upon the occurrence of a condition. For instance, “To A, but if B graduates from university, then to B.”
    • Springing Executory Interest: This springs into effect from the grantor at a future date or upon a future event. For example, “To B, if B graduates from university.”

Types of Executory Remainders

  1. Shifting Executory Interests: These interests shift the property from one grantee to another. They are typically used in scenarios where the initial grantee’s interest is subject to divestment upon the occurrence of a specified event.
  2. Springing Executory Interests: These interests spring from the grantor to the grantee upon the occurrence of a specified event. They often come into play when there is a gap in time between the creation of the interest and the future event that triggers the interest.

Advantages of Executory Remainders

  1. Flexibility in Estate Planning: Executory remainders provide a flexible tool for estate planning, allowing property owners to plan for various contingencies and future events. This flexibility can help in managing the property effectively across generations.
  2. Protection of Interests: By setting specific conditions for the transfer of property, executory remainders can protect the interests of both the grantor and the grantee. This can be particularly useful in complex family situations or business arrangements.
  3. Control Over Property Distribution: Property owners can retain a degree of control over the future distribution of their assets, ensuring that property is transferred according to their wishes and in response to specific events or conditions.

Challenges and Considerations

  1. Complexity in Drafting: Drafting instruments that create executory remainders requires precision and clarity to avoid ambiguities and legal challenges. It is essential to clearly define the conditions precedent and the interests of all parties involved.
  2. Potential for Disputes: The contingent nature of executory remainders can lead to disputes among beneficiaries, particularly if the conditions precedent are subject to different interpretations or if there are disagreements about whether the conditions have been met.
  3. Legal and Tax Implications: Executory remainders can have significant legal and tax implications, particularly concerning inheritance tax and capital gains tax. It is crucial to consider these implications when planning and to seek professional advice to navigate potential pitfalls.
  4. Enforceability and Compliance: Ensuring that the conditions precedent are enforceable and compliant with current laws is essential. Changes in legislation or unforeseen circumstances can impact the effectiveness of executory remainders.

Practical Considerations

Several practical considerations should be addressed when incorporating executory remainders into estate planning to ensure their effective and efficient implementation.

  1. Clear Drafting: The language used in creating executory remainders must be clear and unambiguous. This includes defining the specific conditions precedent and detailing the interests of all parties involved.
  2. Regular Review and Updates: Estate plans should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in personal circumstances, legal requirements, and tax laws. This ensures that executory remainders remain relevant and effective.
  3. Professional Advice: Engaging legal and financial advisors with expertise in estate planning and property law is essential. They can provide guidance on the best strategies for incorporating executory remainders and ensure compliance with all legal requirements.
  4. Communication with Beneficiaries: Clear communication with beneficiaries about the nature and implications of executory remainders can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes. It is important that beneficiaries understand the conditions and their potential future interests.
  5. Documenting Conditions Precedent: Detailed documentation of the conditions precedent and the events or actions that trigger the executory remainder is crucial. This documentation provides clarity and evidence in case of disputes.

Case Studies

Case Study 1: Family Business Succession

Mr. Johnson, the owner of a successful family business, wishes to ensure that his business passes to his children under specific conditions. He creates a will that includes an executory remainder: “To my son, A, but if A does not continue to run the business profitably for five years, then to my daughter, B.” This provision ensures that the business remains in the family and is managed effectively, providing a clear contingency plan.

Case Study 2: Estate Planning for Contingencies

Mrs. Smith, a widow with substantial property, wants to provide for her grandchildren but also wants to ensure that her children are taken care of first. She sets up a trust with an executory remainder: “To my daughter, C, for her lifetime, but if she predeceases me, then to my grandchildren.” This arrangement provides flexibility and ensures that the property is distributed according to her wishes, depending on future events.

Given the complexities associated with executory remainders, obtaining professional legal advice is crucial. At DLS Solicitors, we specialise in probate and estate planning, offering comprehensive services to ensure that our client’s wishes are respected and their interests protected.

  1. Drafting and Reviewing Instruments: We assist clients in drafting clear, legally sound instruments that create executory remainders. Our expertise ensures that conditions precedent and future interests are precisely defined and enforceable.
  2. Estate Planning and Strategy: Our solicitors provide strategic advice on incorporating executory remainders into estate plans. We consider each client’s unique circumstances to develop effective and tailored solutions.
  3. Dispute Resolution: When disputes arise, our experienced solicitors offer expert mediation and legal representation to resolve conflicts efficiently and fairly, ensuring the smooth administration of estates.
  4. Tax Planning and Compliance: We provide guidance on the tax implications of executory remainders and develop strategies to minimise tax liabilities. Our services ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.
  5. Ongoing Legal Support: Our firm offers ongoing support for managing and updating estate plans. Regular reviews and updates ensure that executory remainders remain effective and aligned with clients’ evolving needs.



Executory remainders are a valuable tool in estate planning, providing flexibility and control over how property is distributed in the future. It’s important to understand the legal framework, key characteristics, types, advantages, and challenges of executory remainders to effectively utilise them.

At DLS Solicitors, we are dedicated to delivering expert legal services tailored to our clients’ unique needs. Whether it’s creating executory remainders, navigating estate planning, or resolving disputes, our team of experienced solicitors is here to provide clear, practical, and client-focused advice and support.

With careful planning and professional guidance, we help our clients navigate the complexities of executory remainders, ensuring peace of mind and protecting their legacies for future generations.

Executory Remainder FAQ'S

An executory remainder is a future interest in property that will become possessory upon the occurrence of a specified event, which is not certain to happen. It is a type of contingent remainder that can cut short a prior estate or arise after the natural termination of a preceding estate.

A vested remainder is a future interest given to a specific person that is certain to become possessory upon the termination of the preceding estate. In contrast, an executory remainder depends on a condition that may or may not occur, making it contingent.

Yes, an executory remainder can generally be transferred or sold unless the terms of the trust or the instrument creating it explicitly prohibit such transfer. However, the transferee receives the interest subject to the same conditions.

If the condition for an executory remainder is not met, the interest does not vest, and the property remains with the holder of the preceding estate or passes according to the terms of the trust or will.

An executory remainder is typically created through a will or trust document, where the grantor specifies that the property will pass to a beneficiary upon the occurrence of a specified future event.

Yes, an executory remainder can be subject to conditions precedent. This means that the future interest will only become possessory if certain conditions are met before or at the termination of the preceding estate.

An example of an executory remainder is a will that states, “I leave my house to my son John, but if John does not graduate from university by the age of 25, then the house will go to my nephew, Mark.” Mark’s interest is an executory remainder because it is contingent on John not meeting the specified condition.

Yes, executory remainders must comply with the Rule Against Perpetuities, which requires that the interest must vest, if at all, within 21 years after the death of a measuring life in being at the time the interest was created.

An executory remainder can be invalidated if it violates the Rule Against Perpetuities or if the condition precedent is found to be impossible, illegal, or against public policy.

The court can resolve disputes involving executory remainders by interpreting the terms of the will or trust, determining whether the conditions for the remainder have been met, and ensuring compliance with relevant laws, including the Rule Against Perpetuities.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th July 2024.

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