In general, personal property is defined as property that is movable. In defining this type of property, people usually use real estate as a comparison, as real estate is fixed property that is unlikely to be moved to a new location. Personal property, however, typically includes such things as cars, jewelry, clothing, appliances, and computers, as these things can be moved from place to place. Often, this type of property is divided into two basic categories: tangible and intangible. Tangible personal property includes property a person can physically touch, while intangible property cannot be touched, such as a copyright.
Another way of distinguishing personal property from real property is by considering how long the property is likely to last. For example, real estate that it attached to the ground is likely to last for far longer than a computer, car, or boat, under most circumstances. Likewise, land is considered real property, regardless of whether or not a building has been built on top of it. Property that is located on top of that land, as long as it can be moved, is often considered personal.
In many cases, living things can be considered personal property. In many jurisdictions, for example, livestock and pets fit in this property category, as they can be moved from place to place. Sometimes plants are considered personal property as well. For example, if a person purchases and plants rosebushes, the rosebushes may be considered personal property. This may be due to the fact that a person may remove rosebushes from the ground and plant them in a different location.
There are many different types of tangible personal property, and they may vary a good deal in terms of their value. Since this type of property can moved and touched, it includes a wide range of small items such as wallets, cell phones, and personal digital assistants (PDAs). Clothing and shoes are often included in this category as well. There is also an abundance of large items that may be considered personal, tangible property, such as washers and dryers; exercise equipment; cars; motorcycles; boats; and trucks.
Intangible property isn’t touchable, and it isn’t always visible either. Copyrights are an example of personal, intangible property. This category of property may also include stocks and bonds. While a person can see stock and bond certificates, he usually cannot see or touch the assets that the stock and bond certificates represent. Idea patents may be considered intangible property as well.