Hereditaments are divided into corporeal and incorporeal. Corporeal hereditaments are "such as affect the senses, and may be seen and handled by the body; incorporeal are not the subject of sensation, can neither be seen nor handled, are creatures of the mind, and exist only in contemplation". An example of a corporeal hereditament is land held in freehold and in leasehold.
Examples of incorporeal hereditaments are hereditary titles of honour or dignity, heritable titles of office, coats of arms, prescriptive baronies, pensions, annuities, rentcharges, franchises — and any other interest having no physical existence. Two categories have been abolished in England and Wales and certain other parts of the British Isles which related to the church: tithes and advowsons. The term featured in the one-time "sweeper definition", catch-all phrase, "lands, tenements and hereditaments" deprecated in contemporary legal documents. The terms "land, buildings" and where such land is unregistered "appurtenant rights" invariably coupled with itemised lists more properly describe property respectively forming and connected with land, as distinguished from goods and chattels or movable property.
In the UK the word is used in annual property taxation; its practical definition being the answer to the question, “as a matter of fact and degree, is or will the building, as a building, be ready for occupation, or capable of occupation, for the purposes for which it is intended?” combined with tests surrounding whether it is a dwelling and case law decisions, for example whether:
- other structures than homes such as garages part of the hereditament
- the addition or reduction of small parcels of land constitutes a new "hereditament".
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hereditament". Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 350.
- Blackstone, Commentaries
- [http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/manors/practice-guide-22-manors HM Land Registry Practice Guide 22 Manors at section 2: Lordship titles
- Subsections 21 (2) and (3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 - incorporates the taxation definition of hereditament in an otherwise repealed section of the General Rate Act 1967.