Do you own real estate in your own name or an LLC? If so, you are a sitting duck for tenant lawsuits, the IRS and code enforcement. Whether you own in your own name or an LLC, the information is public about who’s behind the ownership of your properties, and that makes it difficult to keep anonymity from your tenants and code enforcement officers. Your properties are subject to inquiries, lawsuits, and asset searches. In short, you are naked in a world of information – unless you use a little-known device… a “land trust”.
Lawsuits are an everyday threat to your financial well–being. Imagine a thug sticking a .357 magnum up to your throat and demanding you turn over your wallet, credit cards, jewelry, and keys to your luxury car. How do you feel? Scared out of your mind? Vulnerable? Violated? You will feel exactly the same way (and maybe worse) when you are hit by a lawsuit and you know you haven’t done anything wrong! I will teach you the skills you need to protect yourself from being a target for the “bloodsuckers” and “ambulance chasers.” With impenetrable walls of protection around you, lawyers and greedy plaintiffs won’t be able to touch you or your assets!
Are you a landlord now or do you have plans to own real estate in the future? If you’re ever sued, realize juries are made up mostly of tenants. They are jealous that they don’t own a house and you have several! The way jury members see it when a landlord has been sued, it’s payback time! This is their chance to get even with every landlord whoever hit them with a late rent charge or made them get rid of that pet. And, consider this… most judges earn less than you. How sympathetic could they possibly be? What do you think the chances are of getting a fair trial? You might as well just hand over your checkbook and the title to one of your houses!
1. Protection from liens. Real estate titled in a land trust name is not subject to liens against the beneficiary of the trust. For example, if you are dealing with a seller in foreclosure, a judgment holder or the IRS can file a claim against the property in the name of the seller. If the property is titled into trust, the personal judgments or liens of the seller will not attach to the property.
2. Protection from title claims. If you sign a warranty deed in your own name, you are subject to potential title claims against you if there is a problem with the title to the property. For example, a lien filed without your knowledge could result in liability against you, even if you purchased title insurance. A land trust in your place as a seller will protect you personally against many types of title claims because the claim will be limited to the trust. If the trust already sold the property, it has no assets and thus limits your exposure to title claims.
3. Discouraging Litigation. Let’s face it, people tend to only sue others who appear to have money. Attorneys who work on contingency are only likely to take cases which they can not only win but collect since their fee is based on the collection. If your properties are hard to find, you will appear “broke” and less worth suing. Even if a potential plaintiff thinks you have assets, the difficult prospect of finding and attaching these assets will discourage litigation against you.
4. Protection from HOA Claims. When you take title to a property in a homeowner’s association (HOA), you become personally liable for all dues and assessments. This means if you buy a condo in your own name and the association assesses an amount due, they can place a lien on the property and/or sue you PERSONALLY for the obligation! Don’t take the title in your name in an HOA, but instead take the title in a land trust so that the trust itself (and thus the property) will be the sole recourse for the homeowner’s association’s debts.
5. Making contracts assignable. The ownership of a land trust (called the “beneficial interest”) is assignable, similar to the way stock in a corporation is assignable. Once a property is titled in trust, the beneficiary of the trust can be changed without changing the title to the property. This can be very advantageous in the case of a real estate contract that is non-assignable, such as in the case of a bank-owned or HUD property. Instead of making your offer in your own name, make the offer in the name of a land trust, then assign your interest in the land trust to a third party.
Free eBook: Asset Protection Strategies
Download this FREE eBook, "Asset Protection Strategies for Real Estate Investors". It will show you how to use land trusts in conjunction with LLCs, corporations, and family limited partnerships to protect yourself, your family, and your business from lawsuits, taxes, liabilities, and other financial pitfalls.
Attorney William ("Bill") Bronchick, host of Legalwiz.com, has authored six best-selling books and is sought nationwide for his 25+ years of real estate and legal knowledge. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, such as CNBC, TIME Magazine, USA Today, Investor Business Daily, Forbes, and the LA Times, to name a few. William Bronchick is the co-founder and past President of the Colorado Association of Real Estate Investors and the Executive Director and founder of the College of American Real Estate Investors. Click on the "About" link above for more information on William Bronchick.