personal property – any movable or intangible thing that is subject to ownership and not classified as real property: i.e. money, goods, chattels, movables, a right of action, evidence of debt, stock, bond, mortgages

     This page is continued from Property:


personal property:

1. Any movable or intangible thing that is subject to ownership and not classified as real property. — aka personality; personal estate; movable estate; (in plural) things personal.

2. Tax. Property not used in a taxpayer’s trade or business or held for income production or collection. [1]

1. Money, goods, and movable chattels, Ralston Steel Car  Co. v Ralston, 112 Ohio St 306, 147 NE 513, 39 ALR 334

Goods, chattels, things in action, evidences of debt, and money.  All objects and rights which are capable of ownership except freehold estates in land, and incorporeal hereditaments issuing thereout, or exercisable within the same.  42 Am J1st Prop § 23.

     The ultimate test in determining what particular items pass under a testamentary gift of “personal property” is the intention of the testator.  While it is clear that the term is sufficiently broad in its accepted technical significance to include all forms of property other than land or interests in land, if the testator intended that it should embrace so much, in a majority of cases the courts have, in view of the actual intention of the testator as disclosed by the language of the will and the circumstances surrounding its execution, construed the term as carrying a restricted rather than a broad signification.  In some instances, it has been held that the term passed only personal or household effects.  In other instances, the term has been construed as including only intangibles or as excluding certain kinds of tangible property, such as growing crops.  57 Am J1st Wills § 1339. [2]

1. All property other than real property (EXAMPLES: money; goods; chattels; movables; a chose in action; evidence of debt), including stock, bonds, or a mortgage.  Personal property may be further categorized as corporeal property (or tangible property) and incorporeal property (or intangible property). [3]

Types of Personal Property:

  • intangible movable – a physical thing that can be moved but that cannot be touched in the usual sense, such as a legal right, light, electricity, and radioactive waves.
  • chattel – movable, tangible property.
    • personal chattel – a tangible good or an intangible right (such as a patent).
    • real chattel – an interest in real property that is less than a freehold or fee, such as an estate for years in land (i.e. a leasehold).
    • bond – a written promise to pay money or do some act if certain circumstances occur or a certain time elapses.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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