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Contingent means that an event may or may not occur in the future, depending on the fulfillment of some condition that is uncertain. This term is often used in contracts where the event will not take effect until the specified condition occurs. The opposite term is vested, which means that an event is definite and unconditional.

  • Contingent ownership refers to ownership that the owner can only enjoy when a certain condition occurs. 
  • Contingent legacy is an inheritance that can only be inherited when a certain condition is fulfilled. 
  • A contingent fee refers to a payment received by an attorney only after successful representation of a client as a condition, such as achieving a desired result.

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]