Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



One of the most technical problems in the field of property law is the manner in which future interests in realty and personalty may be alienated. The term, future interest, is used here to mean a presently existing interest which is deprived of possession but which looks forward to possession in the future. The term is a misnomer. Such an interest is "future" only in the sense that it looks toward becoming possessory in the future. Just as future interests is a law of words, so the alienability of future interests is, in the absence of statute, a law of methods. The initial problem is to classify the interest. Only then can the proper methods of alienation be brought into play. At least 33 states have statutes which either expressly or impliedly provide for the transfer of these interests.' But in many states there are no statutes and the common law or more modern judicial decisions control.

It is the purpose of this Note to discuss two problems: (1) the voluntary or consensual inter vivos conveyance of future interests, and (2) the rights of creditors to seize these interests under judicial process in satisfaction of a debt. Particular emphasis will be placed on Tennessee law. But in order to understand the law of Tennessee in these problems and to point out possible future development in this state, it is necessary to consider in addition both the early common law decisions and recent developments in other states.