Personal Property Law


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What is Personal Property?

Personal Property, also called “movable property,” “personalty,” “movables,” or “chattels,” include virtually any form of property other than real estate. The distinguishing characteristic between real and personal property is that, in most instances, the personal property is transportable, such as vehicles, furniture, electronics, boats, cars, collectibles, etc.

Classifications of Personal Property

There are a number of different types of personal property. For example, tangible personal property refers generally to any object that can be moved, touched, or felt. “Moved” in this context means that it has not been integrated into a building or land, becoming a fixture and a piece of the real property. Some forms of tangible personal property will include titles demonstrating ownership, like cars and boats, but most do not.

Intangible personal property (or "intangibles") are, as the name implies, things that cannot actually be moved, touched, or felt, but instead represents something of value. A few examples include negotiable instruments, securities, and other types of investments.

Personal Versus Private Property

Another important distinction is the difference between personal and private property. Private property is less a legal distinction and more a social one. If something is intended only for the use of a single individual or small group of individuals, one might refer to it as “private property.” However, despite the similar sounding name, personal property is not necessarily private. Personal property, legally speaking, only differentiates a piece of property as being something that is movable versus the fixed nature of real property.

More Information

For more information about Personal Property, please visit the resources listed below. Additionally, should you require assistance with a legal matter pertaining to personal property, you can find an attorney in your area by visiting our Law Firms page.

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Personal Property Law - US

  • ABA - Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section

    The Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section is a leading national forum for lawyers, and currently has over 30,000 members. The Real Property Division focuses on legal aspects of property use, ownership, development, transfer, regulation, financing, taxation and disposal. The Trust and Estate Division focuses on all aspects of trusts, estate planning, employee benefits, insurance, and probate and trust litigation.

  • Asset Forfeiture Program - Department of Justice

    The primary mission of the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program is to employ asset forfeiture powers in a manner that enhances public safety and security. This is accomplished by removing the proceeds of crime and other assets relied upon by criminals and their associates to perpetuate their criminal activity against our society. Asset forfeiture has the power to disrupt or dismantle criminal organizations that would continue to function if we only convicted and incarcerated specific individuals.

  • Hybrid Law

    Hybrid Law tracks laws concerning ownership of hybrid cats and dogs in the United States, and where possible other countries. Legislation is listed by state and may include county and city. Laws, statutes, ordinances and regulations from all levels of government affect the ownership of exotic and hybrid animals. It is strongly recommended that county and city laws, and homeowners’ association rules be researched prior to buying or selling any hybrid animal.

  • Personal Property - Definition

    All property other than land and buildings attached to land. Cars, bank accounts, wages, securities, a small business, furniture, insurance policies, jewelry, patents, pets, and season baseball tickets are all examples of personal property. Personal property may also be called personal effects, movable property, goods and chattel, and personalty.

  • Saving Anitiques Organization

    Welcome to savingantiquities.org The SAFE online resource that highlights issues related to the vulnerability of our shared cultural heritage to looting and the illicit antiquities trade.

  • Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)

    The Uniform Commercial Code is a comprehensive set of laws governing commercial transactions between U.S. states and territories. These transactions include borrowing money, leases, contracts, and the sale of goods. The UCC is not a federal law, but a product of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute, private organizations that recommend the adopting of the UCC by state governments. State legislatures may either adopt the UCC verbatim or may modify to meet the state's needs. Once a state's legislature adopts and enacts the UCC it becomes a state law and is codified in the state's statutes. All 50 states and territories have enacted some version of the UCC.

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the Federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. In doing this, the USPTO fulfills the mandate of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the Constitution that the Executive branch "promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries." The USPTO registers trademarks based on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3). Under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered, and employment opportunities created for millions of Americans. The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy depends directly on effective mechanisms that protect new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity. The continued demand for patents and trademarks underscores the ingenuity of American inventors and entrepreneurs. The USPTO is at the cutting edge of the Nation's technological progress and achievement

Organizations Related to Personal Property Law

  • Forfeiture Endangers American Rights Foundation

    Forfeiture Endangers American Rights is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reform of federal and state asset forfeiture laws to restore due process and protect property rights in the forfeiture process.

Articles on HG.org Related to Personal Property Law

  • Cost-effective Probate Alternatives When a Person Dies Without a Will
    If your loved one passed away without a will, Texas law provides several options for settling the affairs of his or her estate. This article explains several of these options.
  • CPA Real Estate Loss
    There are laws in place to protect investors from unscrupulous brokers at companies looking to take their money and make high commissions with little promise of return; those laws work very well, for the most part, to protect investors from securities fraud or investment fraud. Be that as it may, because of a changing landscape, unscrupulous investment brokers and companies may still sell risky investments to investors with the promise that they are "safe" and "low risk."
  • Deceased Family Members, Debts, and Creditors: 3 Common Questions
    Question 1: What happens to a deceased person’s debts? There are several possibilities. Once a person dies someone will have to manage the property left behind.
  • Give Yourself an Easier Time of Making a Will
    Beginning the estate planning process can be a task that seems overwhelming. If you’re having trouble getting started, one of the easiest ways to begin is to collect some simple information you will need to write a will.
  • Updating Your Estate Plan: Is It Better To Change Your Will Or Make A Brand New Will?
    There may come a time when circumstances in your life have changed and you need to update your will. These circumstances can include a new marriage, a new child, a divorce, or having a new financial status such as winning the lottery and becoming a millionaire.
  • The Family Vacation Home — How to Handle it in Your Estate Plan
    Many families are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy a family vacation home. Whether you have a cabin in the woods, a chalet near the slopes, or a condo at the beach you need to pay particular attention to how the property is handled in your estate plan in order to avoid conflict and confusion.
  • Executor Duties — Obtaining Date of Death Values for Estate Assets
    If you recently found out that you are the executor of the estate of a recently deceased loved one, or have been appointed by the court as the personal representative of an estate, you will soon realize that there are numerous duties that go along with the position
  • Estate Planning with the Unlimited Marital Exclusion and Federal Estate Taxes
    If you have sizable assets it is an advantage to be married. If a couple is married they can pass an unlimited amount of money to each other after they die without having to pay a federal estate tax. Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or Warren Buffett could pass all of their billions to their wives if they died and would not have to pay a cent of federal estate taxes.
  • New Definition of “Lucky Dog”
    There is such a thing as living a charmed life, and a lot of people will tell you that their dogs are doing just that. Indeed, many Americans have a tendency to spoil their best friends and who can blame them? Dogs are loyal companions who provide you with endless hours of entertainment while acting as protectors.
  • America’s Wealthy Have Outdated Estate Plans
    According to a recent study, a majority of American families who are wealthy enough to have a full-time accountant and legal representatives on staff have extremely outdated estate plans. In fact, more than three quarters of American wealthy families had outdated estate plans, even though 95 percent of them had significant life changes that required some form of updating to their plan.
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    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Banking and Finance including: asset protection, capital markets, corporate finance, financial planning, financial services law, investment law, offshore accounts, private equity, project finance, public finance, securities, trade investment and venture capital.

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    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Intellectual Property including: copyright, domain names, licensing law, patents, trade secrets and trademark.

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    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Leisure including: art and cultural property, entertainment law, gaming, hospitality law, sports and recreation, tourism and travel.


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