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What is Possession of Property?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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Possession of property is the exertion of physical control over tangible property or the legal right of control over property that is not tangible. For example, a person may obtain physical control over land, a building, artwork, jewelry, or cattle. He may also have the legal right to control intangible property, such as a brand name or trademark. Additionally, there is a part of the definition of possession of property that includes the intention of the person who has control of the property. A person who has the control of property with the intent of owning it is said to have possession of the property, while a person who doesn’t have the intention of owning it only has custody of the property.

Definitions of possession of property may vary, but they most often involve the control of the property in question. A person is said to have possession of physical property if he has control over it. For example, a person who has control of a car or building has possession of the property. The same goes for such things as cattle or personal valuables.

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Sometimes intangible property is also included in discussions of the possession of property. In such a case, a person may have possession of the property if he has the legal right to control it. For example, a person is said to be in possession of stocks if he has the legal right to control them. The same may apply to such things as trademarks and even credit.

Interestingly, a person may be considered in possession of property even if he does not currently have the property in hand. For example, if a person owns a building that is located across the country from where he lives, he is still said to be in possession of the property. Likewise, a person need not be physically in his car to have possession of it.

Intent plays a role in defining possession of property as well. For example, a party has possession of property if he has control over it with the intention of retaining or owning it. If he only intends to use it or hold onto it temporarily, however, he only has custody of the property. For instance, if an employee is charged with maintaining a company building while his employer is away, he is not said to have possession of the building. Instead, he has custody of it and his employer maintains possession.

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