13 Jan The Differences Between Real and Personal Property
When a marriage ends, couples face the daunting task of splitting up property. Some couples can come to an agreement about almost everything they need to divide, from their home to their cars and bank accounts. If there is a business or significant assets that cannot be resolved by agreement, then speaking with an attorney is best to ensure that you know the laws guiding property division and have Counsel that will apply them to benefit you.
Understanding the differences between real and personal property and the distinction between tangible and intangible personal property is important as divorcing couples determine who gets what. State law regarding marital property is a critical factor: Washington is a community property state, which means that all property acquired during the marriage belongs to both partners.
Exceptions to community property include inheritances, any property that one spouse owned prior to the marriage and kept separate, and property one acquired with separate funds and kept separate during the marriage.
What Is Real Property?
It sounds simplistic, but real property is anything you own that you can’t move. It includes land and buildings on that land. Your home, backyard shed, and even the trees on your land constitute real property.
What Is Personal Property and How Is It Different?
Personal property is property you can move or liquidate. Personal property might include jewelry, artwork, books, furniture, and clothing.
Tangible vs. Intangible Property
There are two different types of personal property: tangible and intangible. You can touch tangible personal property with your hands, so things like jewelry, your wedding ring, and the rugs in your home are tangible personal property.
Intangible personal property can’t be physically touched, but it is often a source of contention between divorcing couples. Things like bank and brokerage accounts are intangible personal property that can be very valuable.
Similarly, intellectual property developed during a marriage can be a source of disagreement. You and your spouse may disagree on who came up with the idea for a business you started together or its most successful product or service.
If you can’t agree on how to divide your property, or if you have a dispute with your partner about what is or isn’t marital property, a Washington-family law attorney can help you develop and propose a property division plan that is in your best interest. Your attorney will present your perspective to the court, and the court will devise what it deems a “just and equitable” solution for dividing your marital property.
The differences between real and personal property can be significant in a divorce settlement. Talk with your attorney about the property you regard as strictly yours, what you would regard as a fair division of marital property, and all forms of personal property in which you have an interest. If property is not divided properly, then one spouse may be left without property that they legally have an interest in. To ensure that all property is accounted for and that the processes for division are followed, it is best to use a family law attorney in your area.