INCORPOREAL (from Lat. incorporeus, bodiless, front in-, not + corporeus, bodily, from corpus, body). In the common-law classification of real property, that which is not accompanied by seisin or the right of possession. Present estates in land. such as freeholds and leaseholds in possession, are identified with the land itself, and are described as corporeal; that is. as some thing substantial and tangible; while correspond ing interests not in possession. such as future estates and rights in the land of others, are re garded as being of an unsubstantial and intangi ble nature, and are accordingly described as in corporeal. The distinction has no scientific value, as the idea connoted by the terms 'property' and `ownership' is always that of a legal right, and rights are always bodiless things, and are equally immaterial and unsubstantial, whether they re late to present or future enjoyment of land, and, indeed. whether they have to do with things or persons. But the distinction is a convenient one, nevertheless, and has had an important in fluence on the development• of property law.
In our legal system the classification of prop erty as corporeal and incorporeal is confined to interests in land. Though future interests in chattels and such property as shares of stock. patent rights, and copyrights are sometimes de scribed as incorporeal, and though such eminent legal authorities as Sir Matthew Hale and Black stone apply the term corporeal to jewels and other personal chattels, the distinction is of no value or importance in the law of personal prop erty. On the other hand. the usual limitation of
the terms corporeal and incorporeal to heredita meats. i.e. to such interests as descend to the heir of the owner upon his death, is too narrow, us a future leasehold estate, or a profit d prendre (q.v.) for a term of years, which pass like other personal property to the executor or administra tor, are equally entitled to be described as in cc rporea I.
It was in the methods of conveyance employed in creating or transferring the two kinds of prop erty that the distinction between them attained its principal importance. Corporeal interests be ing susceptible of seisin, of possession, were said to 'lie in liver•,' i.e. to be capable of transfer by the method of livery of seisin, or delivery of pos session; whereas the more intangible incorporeal property, not being susceptible of physical trans fer, was said to 'lie in grant,' i.e. to be transfer able only by the form of deed known as a grant (q.v.). With the abolition of conveyance by livery of seisin and the general adoption of the method of conveyance by deed for all kinds of property, corporeal and incorporeal, the chstine tion has largely lost its importance. See HERE DITAMENT; REAL PROPERTY.