To give an immediate, fixed right of present or future enjoyment.
The term vest is significant in the law, because it means that a person has an absolute right to some present or future interest in something of value. When a right has vested, the person is legally entitled to what has been promised and may seek relief in court if the benefit is not given.
In U.S. PROPERTY LAW a vested remainder is a future interest held by an identifiable person (the remainderman), which, upon the happening of a certain event, will become the remainderman's. When property is given to one person for life and, at the person's death, the property is to go to another living person, this second person has a vested remainder in the property.
A vested legacy is an inheritance given in such terms that there is a fixed, irrevocable right to its payment. For example, a legacy contained in a will that states that the inheritance shall not be paid until the person reaches the age of twenty-one is a vested legacy, because it is given unconditionally and absolutely and therefore vests an immediate interest in the person receiving the legacy. Only the enjoyment of the legacy is deferred or postponed.
In contemporary U.S. law the term vesting refers to the right that an employee acquires to various employer-contributed benefits, such as a PENSION, after having been employed for a requisite number of years. The federal EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY ACT (ERISA) of 1974 (29 U.S.C.A. § 1001 et seq.) governs the funding, vesting, administration, and termination of employee benefit plans. ERISA was enacted as a result of congressional dissatisfaction with private pension plans. Under some plans an employee's pension benefits did not vest before retirement or vested only after such a long period of time (as long as thirty years) that few employees ever became entitled to them. ERISA ensures that all pension benefits will vest within a reasonable time. Once pension benefits are vested, an employee has the right to them even if the employment relationship terminates before the employee retires.
In CONSTITUTIONAL LAW vested rights are those that are so completely and definitely settled in a person that they are not subject to defeat or cancellation by the act of any other private person. Once a person can prove to a court the validity of the vested rights, the court will recognize and protect these rights so as to prevent injustice.
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