ASSIGNMENT (Law Lat assignatio, from assign, ad and signum,—to mark for; to appoint to one; to appropriate to).
A transfer or making over to another of the whole of any property, real or personal, in possession or in action, or of any estate or right therein.
A transfer by writing, as distinguished from one by delivery.
The transfer of the interest one has in lands and tenements, and more particularly applied to the unexpired residue of a term or estate for life or years; Cruise, Dig. tit. mull. (Deed) c. vii, § 15; 1 Steph. Corn. 507. The deed by which the transfer is made is also called an assignment; Comyns, Dig.; Bacon, Abr.; La. Civ. Code, art. 2612 ; Angell, Assign.; 1 Am. Lead. Cas. 78, 85; 4 Cruise, Dig. 160.
What may be assigned. Every demand connected with a right of property, real or personal, is assignable. Every estate and Interest in lands and tenements may be as signed, as also every present and certain es tate or interest in incorporeal hereditaments, even though the interest be future, includ ing a term of years to commence at a subse quent period ; for the interest is vested in prcesenti, though only to take effect in lutu ro; Co. Litt. 46 b; rent to grow due (but not that in arrear, Demarest v. Willard, 8 Cow.
[N. Y.] 206) ; a right of entry where the breach of the condition ipso facto terminates the estate; Gwynn v. Jones' Lessee, 2 G. & J. (Md.) 173 ; Ensign v. Kellogg, 4 Pick. (Mass.) 1; a right to betterments; Lombard v. Ruggles, 9 Greenl. (Me.) 62; the right to cut trees, which have been sold on the grantor's land ; Olmstead v. Niles, 7 N. H. 522; Pease v. Gibson, 6 Green'. (Me.) 81; Emerson v. Fisk, 6 Greenl. (Me.) 200, 19 Am. Dec. 206; Kent v. Kent, 18 Pick. (Mass.) 569; McCoy v. Herbert, 9 Leigh (Va.) 548, 33 Am. Dec. 256; 11 Ad. & E. 34; a cause of action for editing timber on another's land ; Webber v. Quaw, 46 Wis. 118, 49 N. W. 830; a right in lands 'which may be perfected by occupation; Smith v. Rankin, 4 Yerg. (Tenn.) 1, 26 Am. Dec. 213; Cook v. Shute, Cooke (Tenn.) 67. But no
right of entry or re-entry can be assigned; Eskridge v. McClure, 2 Yerg. (Tenn.) 84; Littleton § 347; Greenby v. Wilcocks, 2 Johns. (N. Y.) 1, 3 Am. Dec. 379; Gwyn v. Wellborn, 18 N. C. 319 ; nor a naked power; though it is otherwise where it is coupled with an interest; 2 Mod. 317.
To make an assignment valid at law, the subject of it must have an existence, actual or potential, at the time of the assignment; Needles v. Needles, 7 Ohio St. 432, 70 Am. Dec. 85 ; 15 Mees. & *. 110 ; Moody v. Wright, 13 Mete. (Mass.) 17, 46 Am. Dec. 706; Skip per v. Stokes, 42 Ala. 255, 94 Am. Dec. 646. But courts of equity will support an assign ment not only of interests in action and con tingency, put of things which have no pres ent, actual, or potential existence, but rest in mere posse only; 2 Story, Eq. Jur.
(13th ed.) § 0 b, 1055; Fearne, Cont.
Rem. 527; S v. Bank, 20 Johns. (N.
Y.) 380; as an heir's possibility of inherit ance; Fitzgerald v.• Vestal, 4 Sneed (Tenn.) 258; see 1 Ch. Rep. 29 ; Bacon v. Bonham, 33 N. J. Eq. 614 ; East Lewisburg Lumber & Mfg. Co. v. Marsh, 91 Pa. 96; Mandeville v. Welch, 5 Wheat. 283, 5 L. Ed. 87. "An as signment cannot at law pass future proper ty, but it may be made effectual against fu ture property on the ground that a court of equity will in a suitable case enforce it as a contract." 36 Ch. D. 348, 351. "It has long been settled that future property, pos sibilities and expectancies are assignable in equity for value. The mode * s absolutely immaterial provided the inten tion of the parties is clear ;" 13 A. C. 523.
The assignment of personal property is chiefly interesting in regard to chases In action and as to Its effect in cases of insol vency and bankruptcy.
A chose in action cannot be transferred at common law ; 10 Co. 48 ; Litt. 266 a; Thall himer v. Brinckerhoff, 3 Cow. (N. Y.) 623, 15 Am. Dec. 308 ; Greenby v. Wilcocks, 2 Johns. (N. Y.) 1, 3 Am. Dec. 379; 1 Cm. (U. S.) 367; Pillsbury v. Mitchell, 5 Wis. Chapman v. Holmes' Ex'rs, 10 N. J. L.