Accretion Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Accretion, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Accretion?

n. the increase of land by the washing of the seas or rivers i.e. deposition. Also used to refer to growth in assets. eg. in trusts, a beneficiary’s increase in benefits is termed accretion. In reference to discount bonds, it describes the accumulation of value until maturity.

History and Meaning of Accretion

Accretion has a dual meaning in the legal sphere. It can refer to the gradual increase of land through the deposit of soil by natural forces like rivers and seas, or it can refer to an increase in assets or investment value. The term finds its roots in Roman law, where the process of accretion was a central legal principle in determining property rights. In modern times, it is frequently used in property law and trust and estate law to describe the natural process of land growth or the accumulation of securities.

Examples of Accretion

  1. After a particularly heavy rainy season, the riverbank experienced substantial accretion, resulting in the landowner’s boundary line extending several feet beyond the previous boundary.
  2. The growth of the company over the past decade resulted in an accretion in the value of the stocks.
  3. The trustees had to carefully manage the accretion of assets, balancing the need for growth with the interests of the current beneficiaries.

Legal Terms Similar to Accretion

  1. Erosion – the opposite of accretion, referring to the gradual loss of land through natural forces like the washing away of soil.
  2. Abatement – the legal remedy by which a nuisance is eliminated, often through the removal of a structure or the cessation of an activity.
  3. Escheat – the process by which property reverts to the state when its owner dies without a will or heirs.