Abeyance is a state of expectancy in respect of property, titles or office, when the right to them is not vested in any one person, but awaits the appearance or determination of the true owner. In law, the term abeyance can only be applied to such future estates as have not yet vested or possibly may not vest. For example, an estate is granted to A for life, with remainder to the heir of B. During B’s lifetime, the remainder is in abeyance, for until the death of B it is uncertain who is B’s heir. Similarly the freehold of a benefice, on the death of the incumbent, is said to be in abeyance until the next incumbent takes possession.


What is ‘Abeyance’

A situation in which the rightful owner of a property, office or title has not yet been decided. Abeyance results when the current owner or holder does not declare a single current beneficiary. Instead, the new owner is determined through the outcome of a particular event at some time in the future. Thus, the ownership of the property, office, or title is left unfilled. Abeyance is derived from the Old French word “abeance.” which means a longing or gaping, with future expectation.

Explaining ‘Abeyance’

Many estates are placed in trusts with stipulations that must be fulfilled before ownership can be taken. For example, if a trust fund is to be given to a child once he or she finishes college, the funds are said to be in abeyance until the goal is reached.

Further Reading

  • Together all the way? Abeyance and co-optation of Sunni networks in Lebanon – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Disaster preparedness and the abeyance of agency: christian responses to tropical cyclone Winston in Fiji – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Development of housing finance and the global strategy for shelter – www.sciencedirect.com [PDF]
  • European anti-austerity and pro-democracy protests in the wake of the global financial crisis – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • The political economy of the European Economic and Monetary Union: Political sources of an economic liability – www.aeaweb.org [PDF]
  • Perpetual anarchy: From economic security to financial insecurity – helda.helsinki.fi [PDF]