Intangible property

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Property can be “real property” or “personal property.” Real property (also called “real estate”) is land, including the sky above the land, the land’s surface, and everything attached permanently to it to the land, and everything located below the land’s surface. Personal property is everything else, and it can be either “tangible” (something that you can touch and feel) or “intangible” (something that you cannot touch because it has no physical presence). This article describes intangible property and what you can do to enjoy, preserve, and share it.

Bank, investment, and retirement accounts are common kinds of intangible property. Financial institutions keep ownership records and allow owners to manage and spend deposited funds in many way. Your trust and estate attorney should know how your accounts can satisfy your current needs and achieve your long-term goals most effectively.

If you have a computer, you probably have numerous subscriptions and accounts (more intangible property) on the Internet with usernames and passwords. You should hide usernames and passwords from cybercriminals, but your accounts are worthless if you lose your usernames or passwords. Smart folks store account information where they and their most trusted people can find it quickly. Your estate plan attorney should know where you keep your account information so that the attorney can help your trusted people to manage your accounts and other assets when you die or if you become incapacitated.

Family history often dies when one generation fails to pass it to the next. Your children may seem not to care about your family history now, but they may miss that information if you never deliver it to them. You will surprise yourself with the number of rich family details that you can share if you write one or two in a notebook or on your computer every day or so. Someday, those stories will become your family’s greatest treasures.

Property is useful to people in this world when they use it wisely and respectfully. No property lasts eternally, but we can increase its value to us and our community by using it wisely and sharing it generously.

Jeff R. Hawkins and Jennifer J. Hawkins are Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyers and Jeff is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Both lawyers are admitted to practice law in Indiana, and Jeff Hawkins is admitted to practice law in Illinois. Jeff is also a registered civil mediator and the 2014-15 President of the Indiana State Bar Association.

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