What Is Absolute Interest?

Kenneth W. Michael Wills

Absolute interest refers to someone having a complete right to, or ownership of, a property or an asset. This means, according to English law, a person with absolute interest has the sole right to legally possess and derive benefits from such an asset or property. No other person or entity has an interest or claim to the asset or property in question. As well, there are no circumstances attached to the asset or property that could affect the person’s right to, or ownership of, the possession in question. Thereby, someone with absolute interest in an asset or property enjoys the full protection of the law in benefiting, profiting and/or accruing privileges, without the interference of others, unless doing so is proven to put others in society at risk.

Man climbing a rope
Man climbing a rope

An example of absolute interest would be the direct ownership of a piece of expensive jewelry. If acquired through direct purchase by transferring one’s own asset or funds in exchange for the jewelry, then the person is not bound by a bank to pay off a loan, thereby sharing an interest. Instead, the owner can do what he or she likes with the piece of jewelry to include wearing it, putting it in a showcase, selling it, lending it or even destroying it.

Vested interest is a term with very similar meaning to absolute interest, though they differ slightly in context. Extending a right under the law, vested interest means a person or entity has an interest in a property now or sometime in the future. Such interest gives an individual the right to benefit from the property in question. Arising out of reference to a time period before the reaping of benefits, vested interest, as aptly titled, is not dependent on any circumstances, and so the benefit cannot be forfeited by anyone other than the party with the interest. Employee investment plans are often good examples where vested interests are commonly inherent.

Contingent interest, on the other hand, is quite different from absolute interest or vested interest, and therefore does not apply to either term. Individuals who have a contingent interest in something may only realize the benefit of the property in question, in the event the dependent circumstance comes to pass. If, according to a legal will, a person can inherit a property upon the passing of the will’s author, the author must pass away before the named person can claim any ownership or rights to the property.

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