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Devolve is the term used when property is automatically transferred from one party to another by operation of law, without any act of either past or present owner. The most common example of devolve is acquiring property through inheritance

This case from Washington, explains that “an estate is said to devolve on another when by operation of law, and without any voluntary act of the previous owner, it passes from one person to another; but it does not devolve from one person to another as the result of some positive act or agreement between them. The word is itself of intransitive signification, and does not include the result of an act which is intended to produce a particular effect. It implies a result without the intervention of any voluntary actor.”

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]