Personal Property Law




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

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    Ancillary probate is a mechanism of having two probate proceedings going on at the same time in different states. Whether a person’s estate will be subject to ancillary probate depends on the status of the property he or she owns and state law.
  • Four Grounds to Contest a Will
    Simply being unhappy with the distribution of assets or the delay of the probate proceeding in general is not sufficient grounds to successfully contest the validity of a last will and testament. An heir of an estate or a beneficiary of a prior will can commence a will challenge based on a number of enumerated grounds.
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    A person’s Last Will and Testament declares how he or she wants property distributed upon death. This legal document has great power, and courts follow the directions when possible. However, a will contest can disrupt probate proceedings and derail them entirely.
  • Debunking Two Common Florida Probate Myths
    People unfamiliar with Florida probate law can make some unfounded assumptions about what happens to debt and property after a family member dies. Here are two of the most common myths and the actual facts.
  • What is the “Residue” of a California Probate Estate?
    What does residue mean as a legal definition, and how is it important in a California probate lawsuit?
  • Finding the Right Probate and Estate Attorney
    When it comes to dealing with the loss of a loved one, one of the last things that any family member wants to do is call a probate or estate attorney. This is understandable given that the family is grieving with the loss. Finding a lawyer should be not be a complicated matter. Finding the right lawyer to handle an estate, whether it requires planning or for the will to be probated, however, requires due diligence.
  • Estate Planning: Choosing Per Stirpes or Per Capita Distributions
    “Per Stirpes” literally means “by roots or stocks; by representation” and is used interchangeably with “right of representation” by estate planning attorneys when referring to a particular method for distributing assets of a decedent. Another common method for distributing assets is referred to as “per capita”. Using ther method, each member of the same generation of a decedent will receive an equal share of the decedent’s estate.
  • Leaving Your Things to Friends After Your Death
    When considering your final affairs, you may find there are things that you would like to pass to people outside of your immediate family. In fact, maybe you want to leave everything to people outside of your family. Whatever the case, you will need to know how to direct the distribution of your assets in accordance with your wishes.
  • Do Children Have the Right to Inherit?
    Whether a child has the right to inherit largely depends on whether the person who died has a valid will or not. With a will, the testator determines how he or she wants probate assets handled. Without a will, state laws of intestacy govern.
  • Components of a Good Estate Plan
    A thorough estate plan should be designed to avoid probate, save on estate taxes, appoint someone to act for you if you become disabled, and protect assets if you need to move into a nursing home.
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