Avoid Probate and Spare Loved Ones Pain: Why a Will Isn't Enough

No one likes thinking about their death. But the only thing worse than your death is leaving behind a complicated legal mess for your family. As a responsible real estate investor, you should commit to estate planning to avoid probate court; and the headache probate brings.

This article doesn't cover all the myriad aspects of estate planning.

Instead, I'll show you a strategy that works—an approach that enables you and your family to avoid probate and protect your assets.

This article will delve into the definition of probate, how to avoid it, and describe a living trust and its advantages in estate planning.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process governed by state law, in which a court evaluates a will. If the will is valid, then the court splits the deceased person's assets according to the terms of the will.

Probate is not a simple process. It's time-consuming, expensive, and can get incredibly messy for those involved. Like vultures, people suddenly want to snatch a piece of your assets for themselves once you're gone.

If you don't have a will or a power of attorney, the government decides how to split your assets after you die. Even if you do have a will, you can't avoid probate. Your grieving family will have to go through a court proceeding where:

Your assets get snarled in the tangled mess of court proceedings. Those court dates and lawyer fees eat up even more of your estate. Ultimately, if you want to leave your family in the best financial position, it's better to avoid probate altogether.

How Do I Avoid Probate?

You avoid probate through clever estate planning and using a living trust. A living trust provides you ultimate privacy and control in the event of your untimely demise.

Think of a living trust as your corporate shield that sits atop your estate planning structure. Here's how it works–the trust document holds all your assets including, but not limited to:

The living trust is at the top of the structure, and it owns the LLC(s). The LLC(s) own all your assets and provides a convenient, anonymous, and lawsuit-resistant way to hold your assets when you're alive.

Dying is scary, and thinking about your death is an existential crisis that no one wants to experience. To achieve peace of mind, consider a living trust as an investment in your family's future.

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust is a legal strategy that enables you to avoid probate. A living trust is a legal protection mechanism for your property and investments. You create a trust agreement, and that trust takes control of your properties and assets.

You designate a trustee to control the assets. In virtually all scenarios, the trustee is the person funding the trust (you).

Why should you do this? Simple, a living trust completely negates the stickiness of probate court proceedings.

How Does a Living Trust Help Me Avoid Probate?

An enormously valuable benefit of the living trust is the ability for you to name the beneficiaries of your assets when you die. That benefit helps your heirs avoid probate.

Also–when you kick the bucket–your living trust still controls your assets. The trust is the legal vehicle you will use to pass your assets on to your heirs. Your assets stay within the structure, and the living trust and LLC prevent your assets from entering probate.

Your living trust enables your family or heirs to:

Since your assets are still anonymous, your heirs and beneficiaries are lawsuit-resistant. They can enjoy the assets immediately upon the transfer.

You can support your living trust with a will that directs your trustee to place anything not in the living trust into the trust so that it can distribute the assets. These are things like:

With the combination of a living trust, LLCs, and careful estate planning, you can enable your family to avoid probate and its expensive obstacles. Remember, you won't be there to protect them, so you should make their grieving process as clean and organized as possible.

Key Takeaways

To avoid probate, create a living trust. Probate courts can result in unnecessary hardship while eating up your assets. Those assets don't belong to the government or lawyers but to your heirs and beneficiaries.

An estate planning strategy prevents your family from having to make tough decisions after you die. A living trust gives you the control and privacy that you need to keep providing for your family once you shed loose this mortal coil.

Are you ready to take control of your financial future and ensure your family is taken care of when you die? Check out our FREE Estate Planning Masterclass and Estate Planning: Know More than Your Attorney in 15 Minutes.

Buy Real Estate through a Solo 401K to Achieve Total ROI

Your Return on Investment (ROI) is the most vital metric to measure success. When you invest in real estate, you may be able to achieve total ROI with a Solo 401K.

Do strategic investments with high returns interest you? Then you're in precisely the right place. This article will cover investing in real estate using a Solo 401K.

What Is A Solo 401K?

Unlike a traditional 401K, a Solo 401K (or self-directed 401K) is designed specifically for self-employed individuals. To qualify for a Solo 401K, you must be the sole owner or operator of a business with no employees other than your spouse.

What Are Some Advantages of Investing Through My Solo 401K?

Your Solo 401K offers unique advantages that make it an efficient and powerful investing tool. For a real estate investor, those advantages include:

Another key advantage of using your Solo 401K to invest in real estate is avoiding the Unrelated Debt-Financed Income (UDFI) tax. For a real estate investor, you do not have to pay the 40% UDFI tax on income or gains on your investment paid for by your Solo 401K.

Here are two scenarios that illustrate the advantages of investing through your Solo 401K.

Scenario 1: Bob uses a Solo 401k and invests $100,000 of Solo 401k funds to acquire a real estate property. Bob also secures a nonrecourse loan from a bank for $100,000 and purchases the property for $200,000.

Assume the property generated $10,000 of net income in a year after calculating all eligible deductions. The UBTI tax would not apply to any of the income or gains generated by the real estate investment!

Scenario 2: Bob uses a Solo 401k and purchases a property for $200,000. Bob then sells the property three years later for $400,000. The $200,000 earnings Bob captured are tax-free!

How Can I Achieve Total ROI with a Solo 401K?

Typically you cannot use a traditional 401K to invest in real estate. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows Solo 401K holders to invest in:

The Solo 401K is a powerful investment strategy that you can use for total ROI. Here is how you would go about using your Solo 401K to invest:

Step 1: Open Your Solo 401K Connected To Your Business Entity

The process entails making sure that your Solo 401K account is the only entity associated with:

Step 2: Fund The Solo 401K

You can fund the Solo 401K and make contributions using:

Step 3: Choose How You Want To Purchase The Property

Typically, you have three options when you invest with a solo 401K:

  1. Cash purchases: are the most straightforward options in which you use funds from your account to purchase a property
  2. Tenants-in-common: allow you to use both personal money and Solo 401K funds to invest in a property
  3. Nonrecourse business loans: protect your assets from lawsuits, bankruptcy, and other potential risks

Step 4: Conduct The Transaction With Your Solo 401K

Your Solo 401K must be the purchaser of any investment property. If you use your name on any documents on the purchase, the IRS will prohibit the purchase. Conduct the transaction by having your Solo 401K:

You are the trustee on the Solo 401K. As a real estate investor, you need to submit the purchase documents to your escrow agent. Store all the documents in a secure place.

How Can I Get Cash From My Solo 401K?

You can lend to yourself from the retirement plan, and the funds have no restrictions. You can take out half of your retirement account, or $50,000, whichever is lower.

For instance, if your retirement account had $75,000, you would be able to take out half of that amount, or $37,500. On the other hand, if your retirement account had $150,000, you would only be able to take out $50,000.

The loan money comes out of the fund as cash, but you must pay the retirement account back with interest. As long as you pay the market interest rate, you have the option to pay your loan back quarterly over five years.

For unique investing opportunities, check out our additional resources: Buy Tax Liens With Your Self-Directed IRA LLC OR Solo 401K.

Is A Solo 401K Plan Safe From Creditors?

Solo 401K plans do not automatically include protection from creditors. However, you do have protections under federal bankruptcy laws.

For non-bankruptcy creditors, protections fall at the state level. Solo 401K plans do not receive protection from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). State laws protect you in most cases subject to certain exceptions, such as child support.

Total ROI with a Solo 401K IS Possible

Investing in real estate may result in a total ROI with a Solo 401K.

There are some distinct and attractive advantages of investing with a Solo 401K:

We covered four critical steps to investing with a Solo 401K:

  1. connecting your 401K to your business
  2. funding the retirement account with your contributions
  3. choosing how to acquire the property
  4. using your 401K for all transactions

Are you interested in learning more? Register for FREE Royal Investing Group Mentoring Wednesdays at 12:30 pm EST.

Complete Guide to Selling an Inherited House As-Is with Siblings

Are you considering selling an inherited house with your siblings? Dealing with the death of a parent or guardian is an emotional period, complicated by the administrative and legal tasks that go hand-in-hand with death. If you're inheriting a house with siblings, there are also financial and sentimental challenges to navigate.

Many families opt for selling an inherited home as-is to minimize the timeline and see the financial returns as soon as possible. However, what's intended to be a gift can become a burden if this process isn't handled properly.

Types of Home Inheritances

Inheriting a home may seem pretty straightforward. However, different types of inheritances can impact how you handle the sale of the property: deed inheritance, will inheritance, and trust inheritance.

A deed inheritance works similarly to a life insurance policy. Also known as a "Title by Contract," this applies to mortgages that have a beneficiary or beneficiaries listed to receive the property in the event of the contract holder's death. The beneficiary is listed as a "Remainderman."

A will inheritance is a bit more complicated to manage. This type of home inheritance is what most people envision when they consider an inheritance. The property owner leaves the house to you and your siblings in the will. However, as the will is not a part of the original ownership contract, you must use the will to go through probate proceedings to secure the property. This process delays the sale of the home by months.

Finally, a trust inheritance indicates that you and your siblings are entitled to the home after a certain age. This type of inheritance typically doesn't apply to adult children or siblings.

Determining the type of inheritance you've received will help you understand the timelines and legalities involved. It's worth hiring an attorney to navigate these processes.

Selling an Inherited House? Understanding Inherited Ownership

When you inherit a house with your siblings, state law dictates that you share ownership equally. In addition to sharing the asset, you're also equally responsible for any outstanding liabilities and debts (i.e., the mortgage and property taxes) and for claiming income from the property.

This means that you and your siblings will be equally responsible for paying debts— especially if there's no life insurance to cover the outstanding mortgage— even if you have different income levels. Additionally, you'll all have taxable income from the sale to navigate with the IRS. It's worth getting professional legal and accounting advice as individuals when navigating the process.

It's also important to note that selling an inherited house can't take place without agreement from all of the listed beneficiaries. If a sibling is pushing back, you may require legal intervention before listing the home.

It should be no surprise that handling the administration of dividing debts and income and listing the home is a significant undertaking. If one sibling handles the majority of the work, they are legally entitled to additional compensation for their time from the estate. Again, having legal counsel in place to assist is beneficial.

Dealing with an Outstanding Mortgage

Getting mortgage insurance is one of the best things a homeowner can do to protect their family should death occur— unfortunately, many opt out of this coverage. When mortgage protection is in place, the costs are covered, and the beneficiaries don't have to worry about paying it off.

So what about those cases when the parent didn't have mortgage insurance or life insurance, and a mortgage is still outstanding?

Rest assured that under federal law, a mortgage lender cannot demand the entire mortgage in a lump sum from the beneficiaries of inheritance. In some states, there are even protections in place to give beneficiaries the right to walk away from an inheritance with a mortgage without the bank being able to go after their personal assets.

The process of transferring a mortgage after death is contingent on each lender's policies and procedures. Generally, it's a lot of tedious paperwork, but not too difficult. Inheriting a mortgage does mean you'll be required to make those payments until the house is sold. When the home sells, the profits will be applied to paying off the mortgage before being divided between the beneficiaries.

Home Inheritance Taxes

When you inherit a home, a policy called "stepped-up basis" comes into effect. This policy ensures you only pay gains on the selling profit versus the home's value today rather than the original value. Suppose your parents bought the home for $50,000, and it's now worth $200,000. You sell it as-is for $220,000. You and your siblings would be taxed on the gains of $20,000 rather than $170,000.

It's important to understand this concept, as many parents mistakenly "gift" the home to their children before their death. In that case, you would be taxed for the $170,000 gain.

Selling a House As-Is

Selling an inherited house as-is means that you're listing the property in its current state with the understanding among buyers that you won't be making any repairs. Buyers still retain the right to have an inspection completed, negotiate the price, and access a full property disclosure from the sellers.

The advantage of selling a house as-is is that you won't have to put any time and money into the property before selling. This streamlines the process of paying off the mortgage, potentially getting extra money, and moving on with your lives.

As inheriting a home with siblings can be complex, it's important to hire a professional attorney and consult with a skilled accountant.

Key Takeaway

Spare loved ones the pain of probate and ensure that your assets are distributed exactly according to your wishes by having a professional estate plan put in place. This can be accomplished through a 3-part strategy that involves a Living Trust, Pour Over Will, and power of attornies for making medical, financial, and managerial decisions. By not having a proper estate plan, you are at extreme risk of losing up to 1/3 or more of your estate to probate court and attorney fees. To learn more about Royal Legal Solution's rock-solid estate plan service, visit Estate Planning for Real Estate Investors.

Roth Conversions to a Solo 401K to Offset Losses

Are you a self-employed real estate investor? If so, the solo 401K may be the best option for you. The solo 401K is an IRS-approved retirement plan that enables you to minimize your tax burden. Read on to learn more about how this tax strategy works and how you can offset losses with a solo 401K and Roth conversions.

What is a Solo 401k?

As mentioned, a solo 401K is an IRS-approved retirement plan. Also, the solo 401K is ideal for self-employed business owners or business owners with one other employee, usually their spouse.

This retirement plan allows contributions of up to $60,000 each year.

If you want to learn more about the solo 401K and its many benefits, read our informative guide: Solo 401K vs. Self-Directed IRA: Which Is Better For You?

What is a Roth IRA conversion?

A conversion is a taxable movement of cash, real estate, or other assets from a Roth IRA to a Solo 401K.

When you convert from a Roth IRA to a solo 401K, there's a tradeoff. You will face a tax bill, possibly a big one, due to the conversion. If you decide to convert a portion of your Roth IRA conversions into a Solo 401K, you will pay taxes on the money you convert.

However, you'll be able to secure tax-free withdrawals as well as several other benefits, including no required minimum distributions, in the future. With proper tax planning, you may even be able to mitigate the tax bill from the conversion.

All in all, you pay taxes on the money you convert to secure tax-free withdrawals and several other benefits. One of the most significant benefits is that you will no longer have the required minimum distributions in the future.

Why are Roth conversions a popular tax strategy?

Roth conversions remain popular as many taxpayers fear that tax rates will only increase in the next few years. A Roth conversion enables you to convert now at lower tax rates, let your account grow, and let you make a tax-free withdrawal over the life of your retirement!

How is a solo 401K different from a traditional IRA or 401(k)?

Remember, if you have a traditional IRA or 401K, that money grows tax-deferred, but you pay tax on the distributions as you withdraw the funds at retirement.

The tax rate might be much higher when you retire. That means you would potentially lose more money to taxes each time you make a withdrawal.

Another thing to remember is that once you reach age 72, you must withdraw a certain amount of money each year, or the "required minimum distribution."

How can I offset losses with a Roth conversion?

One of the ways to mitigate the tax impact of the conversion is for a business owner to offset net operating losses (NOL). The income generated by a Roth conversion may offset the NOL, and the business owner may not incur any additional tax liability. Additionally, there is no limit to the amount of income that an NOL can offset.

What is a net operating loss?

Generally, a net operating loss (NOL) is an excess of deductions over income from the operation of a business. These deductions are expenses from the operation of a business.

For individuals, an NOL may also be attributable to casualty losses. A casualty loss occurs from the destruction or loss of your (taxpayer's) personal property. The casualty loss is a single, sudden event.

For instances of theft, you will need to prove that someone stole the property.

Example of how you would offset losses with a solo 401k

First, a disclaimer: these calculations can be complex, and investors should consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to decide the best strategy for them.

The following example illustrates the calculation.

INCOME

Spouse’s wages
$75,000

Interest and dividends
5,000

Total income
80,000

DEDUCTIONS

Net business losses
(itemized deduction and personal exemptions not allowed in net operating calculation)
(170,000)

NOL for tax year
(90,000)

Income from Roth IRA conversion
90,000

Net taxable income
0

This example is for illustrative purposes only.

In this case, the couple may decide to convert $90,000 from the IRA. Then they can use that $90,000 to offset the loss and possibly avoid generating any tax consequences.

If you want to learn more about how the solo 401K lowers your tax burden, read Self-Directed Solo 401K: How to Avoid Tax Penalties.

Here's The Bottom Line

The solo 401K is probably right for you if you are self-employed. You need to decide if it's the right time for you to convert money in your Roth IRA to a Solo 401K.

If you do decide on a conversion, remember the tax bill upfront secures your freedom from "required minimum distributions." Also, you may be able to offset your losses with a solo 401K.

To learn more about this powerful tax savings strategy and others that you can use to keep more of your earnings, book a tax consultation by taking our tax quiz. The information you provide will enable us to have a productive discussion the first time that we speak.

Tax Savings Strategy to Achieve Financial Freedom

Are you ready to grow your real estate business? To do that, you need a solid tax savings strategy.

You already know that there are considerable advantages to investing in real estate. The passive income, substantial tax savings, and long-term security most likely drew you to real estate investing.

Real estate investing is the first step in your plan for financial freedom. The first thing you need to focus on is finding good real estate deals.

The next step is to maximize how your money works for you. Read our list of six tax savings strategies to achieve financial freedom and build wealth.

#1: Start with the children, house, and vehicle

#2: Maximize your deductions

This tax strategy is primarily for single-family home investors and the available deductions.

You have a multitude of deductions available to you as a real estate investor.

Deductions that do not impact financing Deductions that do impact financing
- Amortization
- Auto
- Depreciation
- 529 Plan
- Home office
- HSA
- SDIRA
- SOLO 401K
- Business expenses
- Credit card processing fees
- Legal fees
- Office furniture
- Office supplies
- Repairs and maintenance
- Tax prep fees
- Travel expenses

As a sharp real estate investor, you need to know which deductions impact financing because it affects your ability to get loans, secure more properties, and generate wealth.

#3: Start a SOLO 401K

With a SOLO 401K, you can save $58,000 a year in taxes. If you're married, the tax savings increase to $116,000.

How a SOLO 401K works as a tax savings strategy:

Do you want to know more about this powerful tax vehicle? Visit our SOLO 401K Hub to learn more!

#4: Create a Self Directed IRA (SDIRA)

You can add a Self Directed IRA on top of your SOLO 401K.

This SDIRA enables you to manage everything as long as you set up an LLC owned by the IRA. Then, you can invest through the LLC and shelter about $7,000 more per year from taxes.

#5: Use the DB(K) Tax Savings Strategy

The official name of this plan is the Eligible Combined Plan which Congress created as part of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 under Section 414(x) of the Internal Revenue Code.

You can combine the SOLO 401K and SDIRA with the DB(K) strategy. You gain an additional shelter which allows you to grow your wealth with a deferred tax, more capital in play, and higher returns.

#6: Get a Real Estate Professional Designation

If real estate is the primary source of your income or you are a "stay at home" husband or wife, use this strategy.

You can use your depreciation and other losses from real estate to offset other income.

If you are a high self-employed or 1099 income earner, you should consider investing in commercial and multifamily investments. You can use cost segregation, accelerated, and bonus depreciation to avoid taxes.

Even if you are a W2 employee, you have to document your time thoroughly and may be able to secure the designation.

Learn more about the requirements it takes to earn a real estate professional designation.

Tax Savings Strategy Key Takeaways

We went over six tax strategies you need to take to grow your real estate business. These six strategies will help you achieve financial freedom and grow your wealth.

Remember to:

  1. Start with the children, house, and vehicle
  2. Maximize your deductions
  3. Start a SOLO 401K
  4. Create a Self Directed IRA (SDIRA)
  5. DB(K) strategy
  6. Get a Real Estate Professional Designation

We've covered a lot of information that may include concepts that are new to you. To hear this content presented by Scott Smith check out Royal Investing: Episode #1 Tax Savings Strategies on our Wistia channel.

To learn more about this powerful tax savings strategy and others that you can use to keep more of your earnings, book a tax consultation by taking our tax quiz. The information you provide will enable us to have a productive discussion the first time that we speak.

Wyoming Statutory Trust vs. Delaware Statutory Trust

Asset protection isn't easy, especially if you are a California-based real estate investor. The good news for you is that LLCs aren't your only option. A Wyoming Statutory Trust, for example.

Using LLCs is a last resort for the California investor when looking for comprehensive asset protection. The $800 per year franchise taxes probably make a non-starter for you as you seek to compartmentalize every asset you own.

Does this sound like you?

The truth is that you don't need LLCs for protection in California. Also, you can use trusts that function just like traditional LLCs and Series LLCs. That's important as a real estate investor because these trusts provide:

To protect real estate investors like yourself, you might consider reliable and proven options, like the Wyoming Statutory Trust and the Delaware Statutory Trust.

Read on so you can evaluate the Wyoming vs. Delaware Statutory Trust, then decide which one is right for you.

Wyoming Statutory Trust: A Unique Tool for Savvy Investors

The Wyoming Statutory Trust and Missouri Statutory Trust function like LLCs, but they are trusts.

If you use the Wyoming Statutory trust for protection, you can:

Since you create these trusts with anonymity through the use of a nominee trustee, you can anonymously own both:

We recommend using an attorney to create the Wyoming Statutory Trust. Your attorney should also serve as the nominee trustee to ensure your anonymity. Your attorney protects you and your trust with attorney/client privilege as a trustee.

Valuable Evaluation of Pros and Cons

The Wyoming Trust may be the right trust for you if you have fewer properties or have no plans to grow.

The upsides to the Wyoming Statutory Trust include:

Wyoming privacy laws do not require the registration of trust agreements. That means privacy about you, your family, assets, and your estate plan.

You should be aware of the limitations of the Wyoming Statutory Trust. The main issue with the Wyoming trust is the complexity it adds to scalability. It may turn out that this trust proves too complex and expensive to provide the proper protection for you.

The first is management. Management of each trust requires:

You would have a multitude of entities that may each require their tax reporting and filing. The amount of reporting on the entities can be an operational nightmare as you grow.

The second limitation deals with scalability. As you scale, you will be financially responsible for:

What follows is more information to help you decide on the merits of the Wyoming Statutory Trust vs. Delaware Statutory Trust.

Delaware Statutory Trust: Proven Asset Protection

The Delaware Statutory Trust functions like a Series LLC, but it is a trust. That means the Delaware Trust might be for you if you have multiple properties to protect and you have plans to grow your business.

The Delaware Trust allows you to:

An attorney is acting as nominee trustee and masks the actual ownership.

Promising Security from Delaware's Trust

The upside to the Delaware Statutory Trust includes:

The trust allows you to scale freely without additional operational complexity or tax filings.

Everything in your life should stay precisely the same as if you managed everything through a single entity that you wholly owned.

The primary downside is that the Delaware Statutory Trust cannot hold any active businesses such as typical commercial businesses, and you cannot "flip" your investments.

The limit on commercial businesses and the inability to "flip" properties may not fit your specific situation. Still, the Delaware Trust is a solid option in many investing cases.

We know the decision is an important one for you to make. Read our "Step-By-Step Statutory Trust Beginner's Guide" for more information.

The Bottom Line: Wyoming Statutory Trust vs. Delaware Statutory Trust

The Wyoming Statutory Trust is an excellent option if you have a single asset and don't plan on acquiring more.

If you are an investor with intentions to scale, then the additional upfront costs of a Delaware Statutory Trust will pay dividends in the long run.

You want to protect your assets and ensure your financial freedom. Let us help you! Register for FREE Royal Investing Group Mentoring on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm EST to learn more.

The Ultimate Estate Management Guide for Savvy REIs

Here is your ultimate guide to estate management and a list of things you should do to get started.

As a savvy real estate investor, you know that you don't have to be ultra-wealthy to need estate planning. Your estate includes everything you all own. Protecting your assets for future generations makes estate planning worthwhile.

Keep reading to learn how to protect your assets!

Basic Overview

Estate management, also called estate planning, is the action of picking who receives your estate and manages your responsibilities if you are dead or incapacitated. The process ensures your beneficiaries enjoy your estate with less tax burden.

Estate planning establishes a procedure that can align with your personal and financial goals. How do you want your assets divided if you die or are incapacitated?

If you want to learn more about estate planning benefits, check out our guide, Estate Planning for Real Estate Investors.

Here are three estate management tips to protect your financial future.

Estate Management Tip #1: Inventory All Your Assets

You have enough stuff to start estate planning. Once you take a closer look, you will realize how many assets you have. In general, you can have tangible assets and intangible assets.

Tangible assets include:

Intangible assets include:

Once you know how large your estate is, you need to estimate its worth. You have options for assessing the price of your assets:

Either way, you choose to estimate the value of your assets, you will ensure that your heirs inherit your possessions equitably.

Estate Management Tip #2: Establish Your Legal Plan

Once you know what's in your estate and how much it's worth, you need to think about how to protect your family and assets once you're not in the picture.

As a real estate investor, you have more things to consider, and your estate management plan needs to include legal directives. A wise option for carrying out your directions is establishing a living trust.

A living trust might be right for you. A living trust allows you to designate which portion of your estate goes where. If you're incapacitated, your trustee takes over. But, how do you find a trustee for your living trust?

Finding a trustee can be tricky. At a minimum, you want your trustee to be someone who:

Read our article Finding A Trustee For Your Estate Plan to learn more about selecting the right trustee for you.

If you die, your trust assets transfer to your beneficiaries, and you get to skip the probate process.

Probate is a time-consuming and expensive court process that determines how to divvy up your estate. It's best to avoid court in these matters, so you might consider using a pour-over will in addition to a trust for the best protection.

A pour-over will is a standard will form stating that the assets not included in your trust should be moved into the trust and distributed via the living trust terms.

Read more about the benefits of establishing a living trust in our article Living Trust Versus A Will: What's The Benefits For Rei?

Estate Management Tip #3: Determine Your Beneficiaries

Whether you choose a will or trust to carry out your wishes, you will need to determine who receives your estate.

Follow these steps to ensure that your assets go to the right people:

Key Takeaways

Change is the only constant in life. As a result, your estate management plan needs to be flexible. To keep your assets protected, make sure to revisit your plan regularly and if you have a life circumstance change.

We went over the importance of inventorying your assets, estimating their value, establishing a legal plan, and determining your beneficiaries. If you follow our ultimate estate management guide, you will take a huge step toward protecting your assets.

To learn more, check out our Estate Planning hub. This page serves as a knowledge base on all things related to leaving your legacy.

Asset Protection for Financial Freedom

Whether you are an experienced real estate investor or building a new real estate business, asset protection & financial freedom have to be on your mind. Scott Smith, Royal Legal’s founder, and lead attorney, recently sat down with real estate investor Whitney Sewell to discuss Asset Protection for Financial Freedom.

This informative discussion covered the importance of protecting your assets and why a real estate investor should not solely rely on insurance policies for protection against lawsuits.

#1 Insurance doesn’t provide asset protection from lawsuits

As a real estate investor, you have to know that you can’t hold assets in your name and rely on insurance to protect you. The amount of coverage insurance is insufficient, and you may find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Scott provides a personal anecdote about a friend who got sued for breach of contract and lost. Because his friend relied only on insurance and held his assets in his name, he lost $3 million in real estate.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have insurance. It would be best to get insured, but you must realize that insurance does not completely protect your assets. Insurance covers you from things like negligence. However, it does not protect you from things like breach of contract, fraud, and gross negligence claims.

Breach of contract, fraud and gross negligence claims have the potential to derail your real estate investment business. To get 100% bullet-proof protection, you have to think and conduct business like a wealthy person.

#2 Think like a wealthy person

We live in a litigious society, and having assets may make you a target for lawsuits. To protect yourself, adopt the same strategies that wealthy people use. That means:

Think about it like this: Wealthy people don’t own things. Instead, they have companies that own stuff for them. When someone sues a wealthy person, there isn’t anything to get. The asset holding company protects wealth and ensures privacy from litigation. That’s why asset protection for financial freedom is such a critical step in wealth generation.

#3 What is the most cost-effective way to achieve asset protection for financial freedom?

The Series LLC is the most cost-effective way to protect your assets. With a Series LLC, you can isolate your investments from one another.

If the worst happens and you get hit with a lawsuit, the plaintiff cannot get to your other investments, nor can they get to your assets. The Series LLC helps you think and do business like a wealthy person because:

These layers of a Series LLC work together for maximum protection of your assets and investments. Savvy investors use the anonymity of the LLC to prevent people from locking onto them as a target to sue, and it allows them to keep their investing strategy private from competitors.

#4 How does the Series LLC provide asset protection?

The Series LLC efficiently and affordably protects your assets from lawsuits by using a “parent-child” structure. The process goes like this:

Each of the “child” LLCs protects assets and isolates them from the rest. If you did not have a Series LLC, you would have to pay to establish an individual LLC for each of your assets to create separation.

The best protection from lawsuits is anonymity. When people think that you have nothing of value, they have no motivation to sue you. A Series LLC shields your assets from the public and makes it an unprofitable decision to sue you.

If a plaintiff sues you, the Series LLC “parent-child” structure makes it so that only one of your assets is at risk.

Do you have a plan in place already? If not, let us show you how to achieve asset protection for financial freedom and build generational wealth through the use of a Series LLC.

Read this article to decide if it is the right way to get bullet-proof protection for your assets, Series LLC For Real Estate Investors.

Asset Protection for Financial Freedom Wrap-Up

And there you have it! An explanation about how to achieve asset protection for financial freedom.

We started by discussing the shortcomings of focusing solely on insurance for liability protection, noting that insurance provides some, but not all, of the asset protection you need.

We’ve also talked about the tips and tricks that wealthy people use to protect their wealth. Then, we went over what a Series LLC is and how it provides the most cost-effective way to protect your investments.

Ready to take your education to the next level? Get FREE Access to the Asset Protection Vault. This contains access to our top 5 video Masterclasses and ebooks for real estate investors.

Real Estate Investing as a Married Couple Successfully

You've chosen a life partner and are married. You may be asking yourself, is it wise to make my spouse my business partner? The answer could be yes. You would want to be sure to have a game plan in place. Good communication would also be necessary to balance the commitments of your marriage and business. Real estate investing as a married couple can be a very rewarding and lucrative endeavor.

In this article, we discuss:

Keep reading to develop a solid plan that safeguards your marriage and business.

Benefits of Real Estate Investing as a Married Couple

First, let's talk about why operating a business that involves real estate investing as a married couple is a good idea:

You and your spouse will share financial goals in your business. For instance, there will not be interoffice politics to navigate, and you will both work to secure your financial freedom.

Working with someone you trust, like your spouse, there is also peace of mind. Since you trust your spouse, the business will benefit from your stability and commitment to your marriage and the company.

Before You Start Real Estate Investing as a Married Couple

Before you dive into a real estate business with your spouse, you should discuss:

After you answer these questions with your spouse, make sure to write your decisions down. Having these agreements in writing protects both of you in the event of:

No one wants to think about the bad things that can happen in a marriage, but those adverse events have ramifications for your business. That's why it's essential to have plans "just in case" different types of scenarios occur.

Options for Running Your Real Estate Investing Business as a Married Couple

In general, the IRS allows for four different types of business structures:

Did you decide that only one spouse will be an owner? You might choose to create a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC.

Are both you and your spouse going to be owners? You will most likely choose either a partnership, LLC, or a corporation.

Sole proprietorship

The following conditions must be met to be a sole proprietorship:

Taxes on a sole proprietorship, each spouse must file:

Considerations for running your business as a sole proprietorship:

If you want more detailed information about this business structure, check out our article, "Can My Husband And I Own Our Business Together As A Sole Proprietorship?"

Partnership

Typically a partnership:

Taxes on a partnership:

Considerations for running your business as a partnership:

Read up on how a Limited Partnership can structure your real estate and other business deals in "Limited Partnership for Real Estate Investors" to see if this structure will work for you.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)

You will want to check your Secretary of State web page for more details, but in general, to form an LLC:

Taxes on an LLC:

Considerations for running your business as an LLC:

If you want to learn more about how LLCs protect you, your spouse, and your assets, read "What Are The Different LLC Types USe By Real Estate Investors?"

Corporation

This business structure is a separate entity from either your or your spouse. In general, a corporation:

Taxes on a corporation:

Considerations for running your business as a corporation:

Final Thoughts

Real estate investing as a married couple can be a massive advantage for both of you. You can secure your financial future together and reduce your tax burden. However, it's essential to know how to maximize your savings as a real estate investor.

For more information about how to keep more of your hard-earned money, read the following articles:

Consider attending our FREE weekly group mentoring calls if you are just starting with real estate investing as a married couple. During these calls, we discuss topics such as: how to best structure your business, how to protect your assets, what tax savings you can take advantage of, and more. Join us for Royal Investing, Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. EST by Registering Today.

The Rental Property Asset Protection Checklist

Keep potential lawsuits at bay by viewing the rental property asset protection checklist we have prepared for you. By doing so, you’ll be able to protect your assets without worry or distraction.

The following checklist recommends some protective measures you can take for your real estate investments, cash, other assets, and financial future:

The bottom line is that the best asset protection strategies stop lawsuits from happening. This list will help you decide how best to protect your assets.

Anonymous Land Trust for Rental Property Asset Protection

Anonymous Land Trusts are highly effective but lesser-known instruments that protect your privacy as a real estate investor.

One vital benefit that anonymous land trusts provide is that unknown ownership makes it harder to file a lawsuit against you.

Here are some frequently asked questions about a Land Trust:

What are the parts of a land trust?
They are vehicles to help savvy investors hold properties anonymously. An anonymous land trust has three components: a grantor, a trustee, and a beneficiary.

How does a land trust work?
When you decide to form a land trust with Royal Legal Solutions, we serve as your trustee and manage the trust. You are the beneficiary which means you (1) are not publicly identified and (2) can enjoy the profits from your property.

Read “Anonymous Land Trust for Real Estate Investors” and get more details to help you decide if this sound legal strategy is the right solution.

Setting Up a Traditional LLC

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) legally separate you from your business.

Benefits of an LLC:

We want to provide accurate information so you can make a sound decision. To that end, here are the most common drawbacks to using a Limited Liability Company:

Read “Texas LLC for Real Estate Investors” for more information. Ultimately, LLCs are okay for one asset, but a Series LLC is better for multiple assets.

Benefits of Setting Up a Series LLC for Rental Property Asset Protection

Series LLCs, a “parent-child” structure that ensures protection for your assets. Here are the steps of the structure:

Benefits of a Series LLC:

You might be having questions about a Series LLC. Here are the most common questions we encounter about this legal structure.

How does the Series LLC protect my assets?
Each asset is isolated from others.

How can I minimize my losses in a critical case?
The Series LLC structures your business in such a way that only one asset is at risk in any given lawsuit.

Why would I need anonymity?
If people think you own nothing, they have no motivation to sue you. Thus, the anonymity of the Series LLC shields you from lawsuits.

Read “Series LLC for Real Estate investors” to get a detailed account of how a Series LLC might benefit you. Overall, Series LLCs primarily help real estate investors with multiple properties or types of assets.

Avoid These Common Situations to Stay Out of Court

When you sign a lease with a tenant, you begin a legally enforceable contract that covers the terms of their tenancy.

Your tenant pays rent, and you conduct repairs and maintenance in exchange. When your tenant feels like they have no options, they might seek to sue you.

You don’t want to end up in a lawsuit, so make sure to:

Use this checklist as a guide to help you decide what type of asset protection is right for you. No matter what level of real estate investor you are, you need to protect your assets. Make sure to apply the lessons from this checklist today.

Bottom Line: Protect Your Assets

As you continue along your real estate investing journey, ensure that you protect your assets with the right financial strategies and business structures in place. Learn how to get bullet-proof asset protection with our FREE, 5-part educational series for savvy real estate investors.

Request your access to the Royal Academy Asset Protection Vault today!

Starting Your Real Estate Investing Journey

Are you currently considering starting a real estate investing journey?

Real estate investing makes people wealthy. Of the 400 richest Americans, 24 made their money on real estate investments. At one time, they were like you--starting as a novice real estate investing professional. Below we have compiled some of the opportunities and challenges you may encounter so that you can hit the ground running.

Here are the things that you should know as a beginner on your real estate investing journey.

The First Step Is Forming A Series LLC

Real estate investing is not without risk. As a result, before you take this monumental step towards securing your financial freedom, you need to have rock-solid legal and financial structures in place. One way to ensure that you have the proper legal and economic systems is to create a Series LLC.

Take a moment to discover how Royal Legal Solutions can protect you with a Series LLC. This business structure will safeguard your investment and livelihood.

Real Estate Investing Journey Fundamentals

You must be financially prepared to start investing in real estate. Read on for six tips to start on a solid foundation.

1. Reduce Your Debt for Maximum Advantage

As a new real estate investor, carrying debt is not ideal. Adding to your current expenses such as student loans, medical bills, or paying for essentials may put you in a challenging position. Ideally, you will want to have some money in savings to use as a safety net.

2. How to Use a Simple Method For Increased Profit

Depending on your investing goals, you will have to decide whether it would be better to purchase with cash or finance your real estate investment.

One benefit of a cash purchase is that you start accruing positive monthly cash flow. On the other hand, financing may generate a higher return on your investment.

For instance, you use cash to buy a property for $100,000. After collecting rent, deducting taxes, and other operating costs, you might see about a 10% return on your investment. A 10% return equates to a cash flow of $10,000 per year.

Another option is to finance the property with a 20% ($20,000) down payment and an annual 3.5% mortgage rate. After paying taxes, operating costs, and additional interest, your earnings will be about $6500 per year.

The cash flow is lower with financing, but the return on investment is much higher at 32.5%

3. The Bottom Line on Mortgages

Primary residence mortgages and rental property mortgages are similar. However, there are some critical differences.

First, people default much more often on rental property loans. That makes sense because a borrower who runs into financial trouble is more likely to focus on their primary home mortgage first.

In general, the additional risk associated with rental property loans results in lenders charging higher interest rates.

Second, rental property mortgages come with more stringent underwriting standards. The lenders closely inspect your credit score, down payment, debt-to-income ratio, and cash on hand.

4. Beware High-Interest Rates

In 2021, the interest rate is relatively low for a conventional mortgage. You should know that the interest rate on investment properties is higher than a traditional loan.

When you decide to become a professional real estate investor, you need to secure a low monthly mortgage payment so that your monthly payment does not disproportionately eat into your profits.

5. Seek Real Opportunities to Generate Wealth

You should set a goal of a 10% return on your investment. When developing your expectations, you need to consider the following factors:

An easy way to estimate your monthly operating expenses is to follow the 50% rule. Simply put, you need to figure that about 50% of your operating income will go to operating expenses.

For instance, if you charge $1500 rent, you should expect to pay $750 in total expenses.

6. Landlord Insurance: Important and Useful Security

It would be best if you protected yourself with landlord insurance. Landlord insurance covers property damage, lost rental income, and liability protection from a tenant or visitor injury on your property.

Profitable Tips to Give You the Edge

Surging Locations Are Key To Success

You will want to avoid making a real estate investment in a dying area that may become a burden to you.

Instead, find a city or location where the population is growing or where a community revitalization plan is in place. A revitalization plan in a community increases the likelihood of employment, living wage jobs, and tenants.

Here are some things to look out for in profitable rental properties:

Each of these factors will likely contribute to a healthy set of potential renters.

Be Shrewd With Rental Properties

Remember, the more expensive the home means higher operating expenses. An excellent place to start your real estate investing is finding a $150,000 to $200,000 home in a growing neighborhood.

You want to follow the Goldilocks Rule, "You are looking for something just right." Don't buy the best house in the neighborhood for sale, nor should you invest in the worst.

Beginners Should Avoid Distressed Properties

Part of finding a home that is just right is avoiding a fixer-upper. You might think you are getting a bargain and can flip a distressed property into a cash cow. If you are only beginning your real estate investing journey, that's a monumentally bad idea.

The price of building materials and a labor shortage make the house flipping industry an expensive and dangerous endeavor--ask Zillow.

The Hidden Benefits of Property Managers

Should you hire a manager or go at it alone?

Using a property manager is a significant consideration for you as an investor. As a landlord, you would be involved with vetting tenants, coordinating maintenance, collecting rents, and resolving disputes. You may prefer to offload those duties to someone else so you can focus on activities that grow your business.

Hiring a property manager can be a tough decision because it will cost a portion of your operating income. The cost can be a considerable chunk of your profits, typically between 8% and 12%.

That said, an experienced property manager might still be worth it to you. Realistically, a property manager eases the burden of being a landlord and brings lots of experience and expertise to the table.

Most property managers:

Consider the following to determine if a property manager is worth the cost: 

Pros v. Cons of Starting a Real Estate Investing Journey

As with any financial decision, you must decide if the benefits outweigh the costs. Real estate investing is a great way to increase your wealth, but it is not without risk.

See the table below to help you decide whether starting a real estate investing journey is right for you.

Real Estate Investing Journey Recap

First, one way to mitigate some of the risks you will encounter in real estate investing involves forming an LLC. Read more to learn about the benefits of using a Series LLC to protect your assets.

Second, make sure your finances are in order before you embark on your real estate investing journey. You can reduce your debt which will help lower your debt-to-income ratio and improve your credit score. A higher credit score means better rates and terms and more cash in your pocket.

Third, find affordable housing in growing areas. Remember, the key is to get affordable housing without buying a money pit that needs a lot of work.

Fourth, consider hiring a property manager--the hassle and time saved might be worth it to you!

Before you decide to begin real estate investing, ensure that you have the appropriate asset protection and business structures in place. To discover how you can achieve bulletproof asset protection, check out our FREE, 5-part educational series for real estate investors. Request your access to the Royal Academy Asset Protection Vault today!

8 Creative Ways to Fund a Real Estate Investing Startup

If you're considering a real estate investing startup, you may be wondering where you can get the capital to fund your first deal. Read below to find out about some of the many options available to you.

1. Conventional Loan

The most frequent type of mortgage is a conventional loan. You make a down payment, and the bank gives you the rest of the money in exchange for a lien on the property secured by a mortgage.

Investors who put down at least a 20% payment are not required to carry private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is a form of mortgage insurance that you may be required to pay for if you have a regular loan. PMI protects the lender if you stop making payments on your loan.

Not every real estate investing startup has the capital to go this route for their first deal.

2. Federal Housing Authority Loans

The Federal Housing Authority loan is a government-sponsored loan that encourages individuals to buy houses by allowing borrowers to make a down payment of 3.5%.

Because the FHA assumes some of the financial risks by ensuring the cost of the loan if the borrower fails to make payments, more borrowers can qualify for an FHA loan than a standard loan, and the lender can offer a competitive interest rate.

FHA loans come with some drawbacks for funding your real estate investing startup:

3. Private Lenders

A private lender is a person or entity that uses its own money to finance investments such as real estate and earns interest payments on the loan. Private lenders operate independently of banks or other financial institutions, and they deal directly with the borrower.

Here are some tips for finding private money lenders:

4. Venture Capital

Look for venture capital, aka angel investors. A real estate angel investor may help you finance the purchase of a property.

If an angel investor has faith in the proposed investment property's chances of success, they will supply the money required to finalize the transaction. Sometimes, angel investors will join forces to form angel groups to participate in more significant transactions.

Where can you find real estate angel investors?

Most people who have secured private investor angel capital claim that networking is the most effective method for locating real estate angel investors.

You'll need a polished presentation to approach potential investors. It doesn't matter how excellent you are or how helpful your services are if you can't communicate them effectively through a good pitch. A successful and effective sales pitch demonstrates your enthusiasm, proves that you know what you're doing, and answers questions. Practice your presentation to improve your public speaking and sales skills so that when the opportunity arises, you're prepared.

5. Crowdfunding A Real Estate Investing Startup

Real estate crowdfunding is a relatively new approach to investing in real estate.

Real estate investment platforms (also known as crowdfunding sites) link individual investors with real estate developers and other real estate professionals who want exposure to the sector without dealing with buying, funding, and managing properties.

Here is a list of real estate crowdfunding sites that may be suitable for your needs:

6. Hard Money

Hard money is similar to private capital, but it comes from a hard-money lender instead of a person. The term "hard money" is appropriate because the lenders secure the loan using the hard asset (the property).

Individuals use hard-money, short-term loans to purchase a property they intend on renovating and re-selling.

Typically, you'll get hard money to cover 70–80% of the property's purchase price before rehabilitation. So the lenders must be confident that the property is worth more than the loan and their cost to sell it if you default.

Hard-money lenders usually charge high-interest rates and include other expenses such as loan origination fees.

7. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

If you already own a house and have some equity tied up in it, you may use a home equity line of credit or HELOC.

Let's assume that you've spent ten years in your primary home paying down the mortgage and reaping the benefits of appreciation.

Your home appraises for $300,000, and your mortgage payoff amount is $150,000. Your equity in the property is $150,00 ($300,00 appraisal - $150,000 mortgage payoff).

You may use a HELOC to borrow against the equity in your home and use the $150,000 to purchase an investment property.

8. Fund Your Real Estate Investing Startup With a Self-Directed IRA

Many of our clients invest in real estate through their Self-Directed IRAs because there are several advantages, tax perks, and little-known secrets that only real estate investors with a Self-Directed IRA can utilize.

Do you want to learn more about Self-Directed IRAs and how they help you earn more from your real estate investment? Read our comprehensive guide on Self-Directed IRAs.

Critical Takeaways For Funding Your Real Estate Investing Startup

Royal Legal Solutions is here to help you along your real estate investing journey.

Preserve Anonymity by Using a Land Trust to Buy and Sell Real Estate

Do you want to buy or sell real estate properties? Using a land trust is a good idea because it protects your interests. A land trust is a legal entity that holds a title to real property in a name other than its own.

Owning real estate is an excellent way to make money. But the taxes and the fees you have to pay for it are often high. You can avoid these costs by using something called title insurance. When you own more than one property, you may have to pay these fees repeatedly as time goes on. But there is a tool that can help you reduce that cost. Read more here to find out when the best time is to set up a land trust.

There are three primary kinds of land trusts, each with its structure and way of working. These include a real estate investment trust, a conservation trust, and a community trust.

  1. A real estate investment trust is an organization that buys the property. The trustee, in this case, is a legal entity that works on behalf of the beneficiaries.
  2. A conservation trust is a private, nonprofit organization that buys the property and builds easements to stop people from developing certain areas.
  3. A community trust is a group of people who want to acquire low-cost housing. They buy the land and build the home, then sell it for a lower price.

Do you want to learn more about the hows and why of a land trust? Check out "The How, The Why, and The Basics of Land Trusts."

Remaining Anonymous Is One Of The Many Advantages

You might be worried about other people coming to your door to sell you something, or you don't want real estate investors contacting you--leveraging the anonymity of a land trust is ideal. You can put your property in someone else's hands.

In real estate, it can be hard to avoid sales calls from companies. To prevent this, you might want to remain anonymous so people won't find you. The trustee is not allowed to tell people your name unless a court says that they can. The anonymity will help you avoid people who might disrupt your day.

Your Property Is Protected From Liability

Being a real estate investor makes you an attractive target for lawsuits. People who want to litigate will know how much you paid for your properties and use that information to gauge your wealth. It may be that those people will use that publicly available information to take money from you by filing a lawsuit against you.

A land trust is an excellent way to keep people from finding out how much money you have. It is important to remember that a land trust will not protect you from every person, but it will help.

Prevent The Due-on-Sale Clause

When the lender chooses to sell the property, they can use the due-on-sale clause to collect the entire outstanding debt of a property holder. This clause might prevent you from making investments with the flexibility you require as a real estate investor. A land trust prevents you from having to pay the total amount due on sale.

However, this is not a rule for everyone. There are limits to it:

It's Simple To Transfer Property Ownership With A Land Trust

A land trust is when you give someone else your property. When both the grantor and beneficiary are still alive, then it is simpler to transfer. Some jurisdictions might use a land trust for tax reasons.

Should you need to change your company or break it down, it will be easier to put the land in the hands of a trust.

You Can Use A Land Trust To Sell Real Estate

There may come a time when you need to sell land held in a trust; the procedure will be the same as when selling a non-trust property. The only difference is that people will see the name of your trust instead of your given name.

When the time comes to sell your property, you need to study the trust agreement. You can sell assets of a trust if the trust agreement allows for the sale.

You will want to answer the following questions before selling with a land trust:

Do You Have The Legal Right To Sell This Property?

Sometimes there are many titleholders in a land trust, so it might be hard to sell all assets. The trustee will negotiate with other people in the trust, sometimes buying out someone else's share for an acceptable price.

However, people can't buy your property if they don't know who you are. In the case where the trust is only one person's property, then it doesn't matter, and you can sell off all your assets without anyone stopping you.

What Happens When A Land Trust Sells Real Estate?

Like any other real estate investor, a seller strives to achieve the highest possible price on each transaction.

The money is converted into a personal property trust when a transaction is completed. Then, the land is transferred from the trust to the new owner. It protects the funds for the beneficiaries while maintaining everything as it was before.

Final Thoughts

We hope this post has helped you to learn more about investing your money in land trusts. You have worked hard, and it is essential to keep your money safe. You can make sure that you keep your money safe and make a profit by investing in real estate through intelligent use of land trusts.

When you decide the time is right to use a land trust for your property investment, talk to a lawyer with experience with this kind of agreement. Finally, if you still have questions about land trusts, check out our detailed Land Trust FAQs.

Five Commonly Believed Land Trust Myths Dispelled

A land trust is a legal entity that is designed to protect the land from creditors. It does this by keeping land out of the owner's name and placing it in the land trust's name. Real estate investors have used these structures since the late 1800s when investors bought the land up left and right.

Savvy real estate investors created land trusts as an asset protection tool for wealthy landowners who were worried about losing their land due to lawsuits or other factors that could lead to bankruptcy. There are many misconceptions about these entities that people believe are true because they have repeatedly heard them—even though they aren't based on any facts!

In this article, we will explore five myths about land trusts and dispel them once and for all.

Myth #1: Land trusts are too expensive for real estate investors to use.

This is entirely false. While wealthy landowners have used land trusts in the past, there is no reason why real estate investors can't use land trusts today. Land trust registration fees are much lower than you might think!

People fail to understand that these trusts are not only for the wealthy landowner—this couldn't be further from the truth. Anyone can use a land trust to protect their land, no matter how much money they have in assets.

Do you have questions about setting up a land trust? Check out our article about the basics of land trusts. We answer the "how" and "why" of what you need to set one up to protect your assets.

Myth #2: Land trusts are a scam.

Land trusts have been around for over 100 years, and there is no evidence that they are a scam. They cannot be used for fraud or land grabs when land is being purchased. In addition, land trusts work if you buy with a spouse/partner.

Land trusts involving real estate are not always used by landowners alone. Many land trusts involve more than one landowner or even spouses/partners who must own the land together. The belief that only a single person can buy into a land trust is a persistent misconception that stems from the fact that some land trust providers don't allow multiple names on their forms.

This is easy to get around—write an addendum! Addendums are additional documents that can be used to modify an existing document such as a land trust. For instance, you could add information that would protect against tax liens or judgments in the land trust agreement itself.

There are multiple benefits to leveraging a land trust. We invite you to research those value-added benefits further here.

Myth #3: Land trusts are too tricky to set up.

Many land trust providers have excellent customer service, making it easy to get the land in your name, out of your name, and into a land trust.

An associated misunderstanding is that land trusts must be a specific size—some people believe that if your land doesn't meet a minimum requirement, land trusts won't shield it from creditors. That is not true either!

Maybe you have heard that land trust documents require a lot of paperwork and filings—false again! While it does take some time every year or two to update land trust documents, it's not nearly as strenuous or time-consuming as you might imagine.

Myth #4: Land trusts are only for large land purchases.

This isn't true! Many land trust providers have an option to choose which parcel of land you want to protect, so it's possible to register one  on land parcels that range in size from one acre up to thousands of acres.

The misconception is that land trusts are only helpful for wealthy landowners—while the upper class initially created land trusts, anyone can use them today! They offer asset protection to real estate investors who want to keep their land protected from

Moreover, some people think that land trusts don't protect real estate assets from lawsuits or creditors—this myth stems from the fact that land trusts are not always public knowledge.

As a real estate investor, you can structure land trusts to ensure the landowner's name is never publicly available. This doesn't mean land trusts don't protect the land from lawsuits or creditors—they do!

Do you think that you may need to set up a land trust? Find out if you are eligible and can benefit from setting up a land trust.

Myth #5: Land trusts are only for land.

Another common misconception about land trusts is that they can only protect the land. This isn't the case at all! You can own almost anything under a land trust today. These structures have become more common in recent years, so the costs have gone down significantly.

Conclusion

In conclusion, land trusts are not scams or land grabs—they're fundamental, valuable tools that can be used to asset protect your land.  They are not only for the ultra-wealthy but also for real estate investors.

They can help investors to protect the land from creditors, lawsuits, and other land problems. There are many myths about land trusts that can be dispelled with simple research!

Still, have questions? Check out our land trust FAQs for your answers.

How to Choose Which State to Register Your LLC In

You are taking the first step to financial freedom–you have started your own real estate investment business. After researching the next step, you've decided to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC). That's a good idea because an LLC provides some personal liability protection if your business is sued.

You care about protecting your assets. Do you want to make sure your real estate investing business is protected? Start with our investor quiz, and we'll help you find ways to protect your assets.

Your home state is the state in which you conduct your business. For example, if your real estate investment business is in Texas, you should form your LLC in Texas.

How do you know if you are "conducting business" in a state? Here is a list of things that characterize "conducting business" in a state and should influence your decision about where to form your LLC:

You can choose to form an LLC in another state, but then you have to register your LLC in your home state. This is problematic because you will:

In most cases, your home state offers the cheapest and safest route for registering your LLC.

What's The Best State For A Single-Member LLC?

A single-member LLC is a type of incorporation that recognizes the LLC as having one owner. It has all the same benefits and drawbacks as a multiple-owner LLC.

The best state for forming a single-member LLC is Nevada. Nevada is the top choice for a single-member LLC because:

The importance of anonymity for your LLC cannot be overstated, so Nevada (which provides total anonymity) might be the right choice for you.

One downside to incorporating in Nevada is the negative perception associated with the state. Nevada is stigmatized by the persistent belief that a business incorporated in the state but conducting business elsewhere is a front for organized crime.

What's The Best State For LLC Asset Protection?

Negative perceptions notwithstanding, Nevada is also the best state for LLC asset protection. The state's heightened asset protection dictates that your business liability is kept with the corporation.

In most other states, your LLC will protect against liability. These protections are not complete–some states provide avenues for liability to affect your assets if your corporation causes damages. Nevada does not.

However, Nevada does not require you to list your company's assets for the state. Coupled with the robust privacy laws, incorporating in Nevada provides the best protection to your privacy and assets.

What's The Best State To Start a Business For Tax Purposes?

Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming are business-friendly states. If you decide to incorporate in one of those three states, you have the opportunity to benefit from the states' tax benefits. You don't have to live nor operate your business in Delaware, Nevada, or Wyoming to reap the rewards.

Here are some reasons why you may want to incorporate in one of the three business-friendly states:

You may wish to have the optimal tax situation but loathe the idea of relocation. It might be a good idea to incorporate in Delaware, Nevada, or Wyoming if that's you.

Why Do Some People Say Delaware Is The Best State To Form An LLC?

A little more than half of all Fortune 500 and publicly traded companies are incorporated in Delaware. They can't all be wrong!

There are myriad benefits to incorporating in Delaware, especially if you are a large organization.

Delaware offers lots of flexibility. That flexibility makes it easier for larger companies to set up shop. For example, if your business is large enough to need a board of directors and officers, those officers do not need to live in Delaware to work for your business.

Delaware has strong privacy laws. As an LLC, you don't need to provide many details about the members of your business for incorporation.

Delaware has efficient courts. Judges, not juries, decide corporate legal issues. Your judge will be an expert in corporate law, and the process is fair, objective, and efficient.

Delaware has attractive tax benefits. For instance, you do not have to pay state income tax if you incorporate in Delaware, but your business is physically located elsewhere.

Delaware is fantastic for big businesses, but smaller corporations might not get the same mileage out of those benefits. The cost and hassle of incorporating in Delaware might not be worth it for smaller companies.

What's The Cheapest LLC State?

Wyoming is the cheapest state to form an LLC. The benefits include:

Key Takeaways

An LLC provides some but not complete asset protection.

In general, it is best to incorporate it in your home state.

If certain conditions apply, Delaware, Nevada, or Wyoming may be your best bet for incorporation.

How to Avoid Getting Sued When You’re a Real Estate Investor

Getting sued is every real estate investor’s worst nightmare.

Running your own real estate business can be rewarding, but it’s also inherently risky. You put your money, time, and dreams on the line to make it a success, but sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Any number of things can happen, and it’s nearly impossible to prepare for all of them. Still, if your portfolio isn’t protected from some of the most common pitfalls, everything from your real estate assets to your personal belongings could be on the line. 

Getting sued can wipe out everything you’ve worked hard to create. So what can you do to protect your business from the inevitable lawsuit?

In this article, we lay out some basic asset protection tips: from getting flood insurance to setting up Series LLCs to more advanced incorporation strategies. It’s important to plan for the worst before it happens because almost every experienced real estate investor will -- at some point in their careers -- deal with some sort of legal issue.

Key Points About Basic Asset Protection

In this podcast with BiggerPockets, Royal Legal Solutions’ own Scott Smith outlined some of the most important steps you need to take in order to avoid getting sued.

Talk to Your Lawyer

This one may seem obvious, but one of the first and most important things that Scott says in the show is this: There’s “no one blanket piece of advice that applies to everybody… Everybody’s business is different. Everybody’s situation is different.” If you don’t invest your time and money into some sort of individual asset protection -- beyond reading an article on the internet -- you’re definitely not doing all you could to avoid a lawsuit. While we might be able to give you some tips that likely apply to your business, it’s still important to get a more personal look.

It’s Just Like Flood and Fire Insurance (If You Don’t Have Those, Get Them)

Obviously, floods don’t happen all the time. There’s no guarantee that your property will have a flood, even if it’s in a flood zone. Still, that danger exists -- and you likely have some form of insurance to protect against it (if you don’t, get it). The same thing is true for fire insurance: fires might happen, but there’s no guarantee. In case that they do, you know you want to be protected. Finally, lawsuits work the same way. A lawsuit might happen—or it might not—but you still want to be protected in the off-chance that it does.

When You Get Sued, You’re on Your Own

What happens if someone sues your LLC?

“You don’t really have any friends once you start getting sued,” Scott says in the podcast. When your friends and associates hear that you’re getting sued, it’s very likely that they’ll consult their attorneys for advice on what to do, and it’s very likely their attorneys will tell them to distance themselves from the situation as much as possible to avoid any additional scrutiny. 

More Strategies and Tips on How to Protect Your Assets

Avoid putting your properties in your own name. When it comes to asset protection, this is a big deal. In fact, Scott said it’s one of the first things he’ll ask real estate investors at conferences and business events. He puts it this way: “what rich people do is rich people don’t own things. What rich people do is they control things.” You don’t have to keep the property in your name, because that indicates ownership to any outsider who might be interested in pursuing a lawsuit just because they know that you have a lot of money.

Use a Series LLC to isolate your assets. This falls under a similar category as the point above. It’s possible to separate your real estate assets from your personal assets, creating an additional layer of security and making lawsuits very difficult. One way you can do this is by holding the properties in individual LLCs and then setting up those LLCs in one legal entity. This strategy is only specific to certain states, however, like Texas. You’ll have to do your due diligence to find out if it’s an option where you live. If it is, it offers an additional layer of protection and makes doing your taxes that much easier.

Use advanced strategies. When you’re setting up an LLC, you can actually put the name of a trust as the registered manager. Since the trust doesn’t have to be publicly filed with the state, every aspect of your business is essentially anonymous as long as you don’t attach your name to any of your properties or LLCs. 

Conclusion: How to Avoid Getting Sued When You’re a Real Estate Investor

Getting sued is probably one of the scariest things that can happen to a real estate investor. In this article, we laid out some basic strategies on how to avoid it.

One of the first things you should do is consult with your lawyer. While some of the strategies in this article are nearly universal, laws do vary from state to state, so it’s important to make sure the advice that you receive is personalized and actually applicable for your specific situation.

Beyond that, make sure that you have more than an umbrella insurance policy, don’t put your real estate assets under your own name, use a Series LLC to isolate your assets, and possibly even utilize some advanced strategies.

Want to make sure your real estate investing business is protected? Start with our investor quiz and we'll help you find ways to protect your assets.

Prohibited Transactions: What Investors Can (And Must NOT) Do

What are prohibited transactions?

If you don’t know, and you’re the owner of a self-directed (or “Solo”) 401(k) or self-directed (Solo) Roth IRA, you could end up in serious legal trouble.

In short, a "disqualified" person is anyone who directly benefits from any activity that occurs inside of a self-directed retirement account.

The Self-Directed IRA and Self-Directed 401(k) have become popular instruments for buying real estate over the past decade, because they allow “alternative” investments. With this growing popularity, there is a growing risk that the IRS will increase its enforcement of “prohibited transactions.”

In order to help you avoid accidentally making a prohibited transaction, in this article, we’re going to define some key terms that you need to know in order to get a solid grasp on the concept, outline common prohibited transactions, go over the four different types of prohibited transactions, and give you some tips on how to better protect your assets.

If you want to see our library of articles about these two self-directed retirement plans (note: they are not simply for retirement... they're also great vehicles for tax-free investing), click the links below to get our content hubs:

prohibited transactions: disqualifiedTerms to Know: Solo 401(k)/IRA, Disqualified Person, Prohibited Transaction

We’ll need to define a few terms first. Prohibited transactions are exactly what they sound like: transactions that aren’t allowed by the IRS. But for our purposes, “prohibited transactions” occur in a very specific context, and to explain that context, we need to go over some common definitions:

You might be thinking: If prohibited transactions include anything that directly benefits the account holder and his/her family, why would you ever open a self-directed account in the first place?

Well, just because you can’t buy assets that directly benefit you doesn’t mean that the assets never benefit you. You can still buy assets that make you a lot of money inside of the account.

It’s the difference between buying shares of a company and buying shares of your own company. Both can be wildly profitable, but only one benefits you directly.

prohibited transactions: classic sports carTypes of Prohibited Transactions

In general, there are four types of prohibited transactions. In this article, we already provided examples of a couple of them.

prohibited transactions: i say noWhat are Some of the Most Common Prohibited Transactions?

With that said, how do most people end up getting in trouble? It’s probably not how you might think.

You can’t be directly involved in the investments you make using a self-directed Roth IRA in any way, and that can lead to some confusing scenarios. Additionally, the money that you use to maintain the investment needs to come from inside the account.

That means the most common prohibited transactions are mistakes—not intentional fraud.

For example, if you buy a rental property with a self-directed account, you can’t go to that property to make repairs. You need to hire outside help to fix anything that may be broken, no matter how tempting it is to make the repairs yourself. And, when you’re paying for that outside help, you can’t use your personal savings. If you do, that’s a prohibited transaction.

Interested in learning more? Check out our related articles:

How Can You Avoid Making a Prohibited Transaction?

In order to avoid making a prohibited transaction and incurring penalties and fines, ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. Outside of my account, do I personally benefit from making this investment?
  2. Do any of my family members, friends, associates, or business entities personally benefit?

If the answer is "yes", you’re likely making a prohibited transaction.

IRS rules are difficult, and it can be nearly impossible to get a grasp on all of them. 

If you want to make sure your real estate investing business is protected, start with our investor quiz and we'll help you find ways to protect your assets.

 

Is an LLC Structure Important for Real Estate Agents?

One of the first decisions you have to make as a small business owner (and yes, a real estate agent is a small business owner!) is how to structure your new venture. 

A business structure dictates how you operate, the tax guidelines you have to follow, and what kind of legal protection you have if problems arise; therefore, it is vital that you choose the right type of structure for your business.

When you start your own real estate investment company as a real estate agent, it is doubly important that you protect your assets with the right business structure. Due to the nature of the business, it is essential that you are protected from potential consequences of litigation. Dig deeper into why an LLC structure for real estate agents is important and how Royal Legal Solutions can set you up for success.

Is an LLC Structure Important for Real Estate Agents?

What is an LLC?

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a type of business structure that protects its owners from losing personal assets if the company is sued. An LLC also offers tax advantages that differ from a Sole Proprietorship or more complex corporations.

As a business structure, LLCs are typically used by small business owners who want to limit their personal liability. This includes Realtors/real estate agents.

Is a Real Estate Agent Considered a Small Business Owner?

Real estate agents who also invest in real estate are considered small business owners. According to the IRS, real estate agents are treated as self-employed and considered a small business owner if they:

If you work for yourself and file a 1099, you are considered a self-employed independent contractor in the eyes of the IRS.

Is an LLC Structure Important for Real Estate Agents?What is the Best Business Structure for a Real Estate Agent?

The short version? The best business structure for real estate agents who own a real estate investment business is an LLC.

An LLC structure for real estate agents provides several benefits to real estate agent investors over other business structures. Among them:

Benefit #1: It Protects Assets

Protecting your personal assets is one of the biggest benefits of structuring your business as an LLC. If you are sued, your brokerage insurance may not cover the damages. If you operate as a sole proprietor, every single asset you own can be liquidated in a lawsuit.

When you structure as an LLC, however, your personal assets are protected. You would simply liquidate the LLC and start a new company. This is why an LLC is so important for real estate investors. 

Benefit #2: It Saves Taxes

As an independent contractor, you are subject to the self-employment tax for independent contractors. The good news is that when you form an LLC and work with a knowledgeable legal real estate firm, you can choose to have your LLC taxed as a different type of entity.

An LLC is a legal designation rather than a tax designation; therefore, you can still be taxed as an S Corporation. S Corporations are not subject to the self-employment tax, which covers medicare and social security, that independent contractors have to pay, which benefits you.

Benefit #3: Self-Directed Retirement Accounts

When you structure as an LLC, you can use your LLC to start a Solo 401(k). With this account, you can buy tax-free investments, become a hard money lender and earn a high-interest rate on the money you loan. You can also loan money back to your LLC if needed. 

Benefit #4: Professionalism

An LLC operates as the face of your business. When you're talking with clients about potential investment properties, speaking on behalf of a business organization rather than your personal name goes a long way. This lends a sense of professionalism and trust to those you work with in the real estate investment industry. 

Work With a Legal Real Estate Team

As a real estate agent, you might not have considered the need for a corporate structure. But did you know 80% of real estate investors will be sued in their lifetime?

Are you prepared?

Don't let a frivolous lawsuit destroy your future. The correct LLC structure covers you in case your broker's insurance decides to leave you hanging. The right structure might be the difference between losing it all or just losing your LLC.

In the video below, Scott Smith, founder of Royal Legal Solutions, explains the best structure for real estate agents to pay fewer taxes through multiple tax strategies and shield themselves from litigation when deals go south.

 

When you work with a legal real estate team like Royal Legal Solutions, you set yourself up for success. You’ll learn how to maintain your LLC corporate structure to avoid losing your business. You'll benefit from our team’s expertise on asset protection structures that will protect your personal assets and build a wall of defense if a lawsuit happens.

Additionally, Royal Legal Solutions can help you work around the single-member LLC self-employment tax so your income is considered passive and you retain the financial benefits. 

Is an LLC Structure Important for Real Estate Agents?Protect Your Assets With Royal Legal Solutions

If you are a real estate agent who owns your own real estate investing company, ensure that you are protected from personal liability. Work with Royal Legal Solutions to structure your business as an LLC to avoid personal liability and gain the tax benefits of operating as a Limited Liability Company.

Want to make sure your real estate investing business is protected? Start with our investor quiz, and we'll help you find ways to protect your assets.

 

 

 

 

Realtor photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

Tax-Free Real Estate Investing: How To Get Started

Scott Smith, Royal Legal’s founder, and lead attorney, recently sat down with real estate investor J. Darrin Gross to discuss tax-free investing on Gross’s Commercial Real Estate Pro Network Podcast

The delightful discussion covered not only the possibilities of tax-free investing in real estate but also how real estate investors can protect their assets. You can click the link above to listen or read on to learn more. 

Tax-Free Investing vs. Tax-Deferred Investing

“Tax-free” investing is better thought of as “tax-deferred investing.” Whether you invest in a traditional 401(k) that taxes withdrawals or a Self-Directed Roth IRA, which taxes funds before use, the tax doesn’t just disappear. It’s a question of when the tax is paid.

You can accelerate the growth of your retirement account using either a Solo 401(k) or a Self-Directed IRA. In a nutshell, with tax-deferred real estate investing, you lend yourself money from your own Solo 401(k) that doesn’t have to be repaid until you retire.

How does this work in terms of W2 income?

Anyone with a W2 (employer) income can create their own 401(k) or IRA account. But with non-W2 income, one can take advantage of creating a Solo 401(k) that allows you to defer taxes.

What is a Solo 401(k)?

If you have non-W2 earnings and can demonstrate that you’re an “active” investor, you may qualify for a Solo 401(k). If you structure an entity properly and demonstrate that you are active in its operations, multiple advantages become available. You have to be able to deposit up to $50,000 annually and be in a position to borrow up to 50% of that balance without creating a taxable event. Royal Legal Solutions helps clients set up a Solo 401(k) to run themselves. 

What is the advantage of a Solo 401(k)?

The advantage is that you only have to pay it back by the time you retire. So, for example, you can take $50,000 and put it into your 401(k) tax-free and loan yourself $25,000 of that to invest in anything you want.

You still owe that money back to your 401(k), but you don’t need to pay it off until you retire. In the meantime, you’ve got $25,000 in tax-free money in your Solo 401(k) that you can invest immediately.

Does passive real estate qualify?

No, it’s not legal to set up a Solo 401(k) with passive income. But you can open up your own property management company. Doing this turns passive income into active income. 

Setting up a property management company for a Solo 401(k)

You can establish an S Corporation to be your property management company. As the sole employee of that S Corporation, you can then set up a Solo 401(k). There are a few inexpensive legal steps to this process, and Royal Legal Solutions can help set up a Solo 401(k) for you.  

Do I need to be a real estate professional to have a Solo 401(k)?

No, you just need to be earning active income. The income cannot be classified as passive. But passive income is easily converted into active income by setting up a real estate company, which can then be used to establish your Solo 401(k). The restrictions are light - you just have to be the sole employee of your own company to meet the conditions of a Solo 401(k).

Once you have set up the company, you can channel $50,000 per annum of non-W2 income into the company. That amount pays into the Solo 401(k) up to the $50,000 mark, and all of that is tax-free for now. 

The advantage of investing with pre-tax dollars instead of post-tax dollars can typically be a 20-30% bump, and that’s where the actual returns are. You get a pretty significant increase in your investment amount this way, without much risk.

Should I invest with a Self-Directed IRA?

Income from a Self-Directed IRA LLC is also tax-deferred, meaning real estate investments can be made tax-free. The tax is paid later instead of paying tax on the returns of a real estate investment. This allows investors to select the assets they want to invest in, except for “prohibited transactions,” such as collectibles and life insurance.

Tax-Deferred Investing: The Takeaway

Tax-deferred investing is important to real estate investors because it allows them the available funds to buy property from their own Solo 401(k) without paying back a loan to a bank or other financial institution. Essentially, you owe the money you’ve borrowed back to your retirement account, in effect turning yourself into your bank. The difference is that you are an active business, not a passive generator of income.

If you start with tax-deferred investing in your 30s and you don’t have to pay the loan you took from yourself back for another 35 years, your wealth curve will likely have been on an upper trajectory, making it easier to pay the loan back at retirement. Having money available makes a real difference to your ability to invest in real estate today for profit in the future. Unlike using a credit card, the debt here makes more money in the short term, which will pay down later debts more quickly.

Royal Legal Solutions: Helping You Grow Investments Tax-Free

Royal Legal Solutions has tax-saving strategies for everyday real estate investors. Royal Legal Solutions can help you form a legitimate strategy to protect assets.  If you are a real estate investor anywhere in the United States and want to learn more about tax-free investing and tax-deferred investments, start with our investor quiz, and we'll help! We are the one-stop shop for tax, legal, and business advice for real estate investors everywhere.  

Living Trust or Last Will and Testament: Which is Better for Real Estate Investors?

Estate planning should be on any investor’s “to-do” list, especially the real estate investor. The steps you take now can ensure that your investments will be passed to your family members and chosen heirs according to your wishes—not how the probate court decides.

In this article, we'll examine the living trust and the will, explain their similarities and differences, and offer our recommendations for how you can combine the best of both tools.

Living Trust or Last Will and Testament: Which is Better for Real Estate Investors? Ugandan pallbearersHow does a living trust work for the real estate investor?

When you form a living trust, you (the grantor) transfer the ownership of your assets (your property) to a special fund called a trust.  

You name a responsible person (the trustee) to manage the trust and make sure your wishes are followed after your passing. The trustee can be a relative or a professional from a financial institution. From that point on, the trust owns the property – not you -- a fact that allows for the privacy of both you and your heirs.

A significant advantage of a living trust is that, unlike a will, it allows for the control of your assets to pass to your designated heirs without getting tied up in probate court. Another benefit is that the trust keeps the real estate value out of the taxable portion of your estate.

Other benefits of living trusts are that they are easier to modify and more difficult to challenge than wills.

A disadvantage of a living trust is that it can be complicated and expensive to set up, and it needs competent ongoing management. The cost to set up a living trust depends on the state you live in, the type of trust, and how complex the legal document needs to be.

Living Trust or Last Will and Testament: Which is Better for Real Estate Investors? obama we're all going to dieHow does a will fit into REI estate planning?

A will (often called a last will and testament) is a written document in which you name your minor children's guardians and bequeath your belongings and financial assets to individuals or charitable organizations. A will also can stipulate how you want your funeral or memorial service to be held. Whereas a trust becomes active as soon as you create it, a will becomes active upon your death.

All wills must go through probate, a legal process in which the court examines the documents. The probate process can be lengthy, especially if family members contest (object to) the will. As we have explained, trusts are difficult to contest, and they do not go through probate after the grantor's death.

It is wise to name an executor of your will. This trusted individual will know where your will is located and will have access to your personal and financial records after your death. Without an executor, a will is still valid, but without one, it's possible that the document might not be discovered after your death.

If you die intestate (without a will), your estate will be distributed according to your state's regulations. The state will name a personal representative (usually a surviving spouse or the oldest child) to distribute your assets, but the process takes time. Until then, your assets will be frozen.

An advantage of a will is that it can be easy and inexpensive to write -- especially with the many online tools that are available. However, your heirs may pay for your savings later by having to hire a probate lawyer.

Living Trust or Last Will and Testament: Which is Better for Real Estate Investors?

Your final piece of real estate ...

Get the best of both tools with a pour-over will and living trust 

Having both a will and a living trust is a powerful way to gain peace of mind for both you and your family.

We recommend that real estate investors have the best of both estate planning tools -- a living trust and a traditional will – by creating a pour-over will along with a living trust.

A pour-over will names your trust as the beneficiary of any property that it does not already hold. Why would this feature be important? Let's say you have neglected to place your new vacation home or other valuable investment property into your trust.

State regulations vary but, without a pour-over will, that real estate might go to an estranged relative rather than to the heir of your choosing.

No one likes to think about their own passing. But the reality is that anyone who is buying and selling property needs to consider an estate plan in a practical, deliberate manner.

We recommend that you evaluate and update your trust documents at least once a year. As long as you remain mentally competent, you can change a revocable living trust at any time. You can fund new property purchases and add the beneficiaries you want to receive any new assets, allowing for a smooth transition.

Rest assured that if you haven't worked out these estate transfer details, your state and the federal government will work them out for you after your death.

You've worked hard to build up your portfolio. We know you want your real estate investments to benefit the people you love. Making an estate plan a priority now can save time, stress, and financial worry later for your loved ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Mike from Pexels

Does Your Real Estate Business Need An Employer Identification Number (EIN)? 

Launching a new real estate business is an exciting and rewarding way to build your path to financial freedom. 

However, as with any business, you have to pay taxes (womp womp).

And a primary way that state and federal governments keep track of what you owe in taxes is with identification numbers.

One of the first questions you'll encounter when registering your business involves your Employer Identification Number (EIN). In this article, we'll discuss what an EIN is and help you decide if you need to apply for one.

Does Your Real Estate Business Need An Employer Identification Number (EIN)? What is an EIN?

An Employer Identification Number—abbreviated on forms as EIN—is a nine-digit number that the IRS assigns and uses to identify businesses and individuals for taxation. An EIN is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number.

As an individual taxpayer, you identify yourself with your Social Security Number (SSN). However, as the owner of most business entities, you need an EIN to apply for your business license and file your tax returns.

That's right; we said "most" business entities. If your real estate business is a sole proprietorship or single-member LLC, you can use your SSN to file your taxes.

On the other hand, the IRS requires your business to have an EIN if you do any of the following:

However, even if the IRS does not require your business to have EIN, many investors apply for one anyway.

Why? As you can see from the above list, having an EIN allows you to make more business moves than you are able to make as a sole proprietor. Some banks will even refuse to allow you to establish a business account or apply for business loans or credit cards without an EIN.

Some investors also feel that using an EIN can make your real estate business look more professional in business dealings. In a competitive real estate environment, an EIN can show that you take your new business seriously.

Also, using an EIN allows you to keep your SSN more secure from identity theft. For example, identity thieves can use stolen SSNs to file fraudulent tax returns. All business EINs are considered public information, but if someone looks for credit information, your EIN will be the only identification number they will find.

Does Your Real Estate Business Need An Employer Identification Number (EIN)? Does a general partnership need an EIN?

Although your general partnership may appear to be a simple agreement between two or more business partners, the IRS sees it as a separate business entity. Therefore, all partnerships—including general and limited partnerships—must have a separate tax identification number.

This requirement remains true even if your partnership has no employees. In addition, all partners must report their profits and losses on a Schedule K-1 when they file their personal income taxes.

Does a sole proprietorship need an EIN?

If you have a sole proprietorship with no employees, you may be able to file your business income taxes along with your personal tax return. You will use your SSN as your business taxpayer ID on your tax forms.

However, an EIN for a sole proprietorship is needed when you do any of the following:

Does Your Real Estate Business Need An Employer Identification Number (EIN)? How do you obtain an EIN?

Fortunately, unlike many aspects of launching a new real estate business, applying for an EIN is easy, and it's free.

The quickest way to apply online, using the IRS EIN Assistant tool. The process takes less than 10 minutes, and you will receive your new number immediately upon completion.

If you'd rather go the old-school route, you can download Form SS-4 and send it by U.S. mail to the IRS. The processing time for an EIN application received by mail is four to five weeks, according to the IRS website. Please note: The IRS warns business owners to beware of fraudulent online services that offer to apply for an EIN for you.

What if you already have an EIN?

If you already have an EIN and your business goes through some standard changes, you may be able to keep your old EIN. For example, if you change your business name or move to a different address, you can continue to use the same EIN.

However, you'll need to apply for a new number if the ownership or structure of your real estate business changes down the line.

Alternative Investments: The Hidden Path to Huge Tax Savings

For decades, many people have thought they could only invest their retirement accounts on Wall Street.

Most Wall Street IRA custodians only allow you to invest in stocks, bonds, annuities, mutual funds, and CDs. The problem is that these traditional investments only make up a fraction of the profitable assets you can purchase for investment purposes.

But with a Self-Directed IRA, you can move beyond Wall Street and use your IRA funds to make self-directed investments in the “alternative investments” of your choice. Real estate is the most popular alternative investment people make with self-directed IRA funds.

You can use IRA funds to buy commercial and residential real estate, including houses, duplexes, condos, office buildings, shopping centers, mobile home parks, factories, and raw land. This article will explain alternative investments, their different types, and how they can provide you with significant savings at tax time.

What are alternative investments?

An alternative investment is an asset that falls outside the traditional categories of stocks, bonds, and currencies.

Since they are not tied to Wall Street, alternative investments can help diversify your portfolio and enhance your returns. Since many types of these investments are connected with the stock market, they can help investors achieve their long-term financial objectives, even during times of uncertainty in the market.

Alternative investments typically cover a wide range of strategies. However, most of these assets have the following characteristics:

Alternative investments are not for everyone. For instance, they usually offer less liquidity than traditional investments. Many of these non-traditional assets require buyers to lock up their money for five or even 10 years. 

What are the types of alternative investments?

Alternative investments can include both public and private assets. Here are some of the categories an investor may consider:

Real estate -- Real estate is the most common type of alternative investment. In addition to office buildings and farmland, however, the real estate category can include intellectual property, including inventions and artwork. The goal for the investor is to understand the long-term value of the asset.

Private equity -- This broad category includes investments in companies not listed on a public exchange. These assets can involve the following:

Private debt -- Private debt involves investments that are not financed by banks or traded on the open market. It’s important to understand that the term “private” in this case refers to the investment instrument itself since both public and private companies can borrow funds via private debt.

Hedge funds – A hedge fund is an investment partnership. Hedge fund managers use a range of techniques – including leverage, short selling, and derivatives -- with the goal of generating a consistent level of return, regardless of what is happening on Wall Street.

Commodities and futures -- These assets include natural resources (such as oil and gas), agricultural products (such as corn and soybeans), and precious and industrial metals (such as gold and silver). The value of these assets follows changes with supply and demand.

Structured products -- Structured products are financial instruments with a value linked to that of an underlying asset, product, or index. Examples include:

Collectibles – Although this type of investing may sound fun, it can be quite risky. Many experts warn that only true experts in the collected item, which can range from wine to action figures, should expect a sizable return on their investment.

What are the Tax Implications for Alternative Investments?

In addition to the diversity they offer your portfolio, alternative investments can also provide tax advantages.

The primary tax benefits of these assets are pass-through depreciation and long-term capital gains treatment. For example, many real estate funds deduct depreciation expenses from your net income, thereby reducing your taxable income.

Also, as longer-term investments, alternative assets may hedge against short-term capital gains taxes. 

How to Use Your IRA or 401(k) to Invest in Real Estate

Did you know that you can invest in private alternative investments with qualified retirement funds, such as a 401(k) or IRA?  

Most Wall Street IRA custodians allow you to invest only in traditional structures, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and CDs. However, there are many reasons to form a Self-Directed IRA. Primary among them is that the structure allows you to use your IRA funds to invest in the alternative assets of your choice.

A Self-Directed IRA gives you complete control over your retirement assets. You can use a Self-Directed IRA LLC to make almost any type of investment. For example, the IRS permits using your Self-Directed IRA bank account to buy raw land real estate.

The advantage here is that taxes are deferred on all gains until a distribution takes place. (Before tax 401k distributions are not required until you reach the age of 70 and a half). And, with a Roth Self-Directed IRA, your gains become tax-exempt.

Be aware that the IRS has strict rules on these investments. It’s essential to keep good records of all income and expenses generated by your real estate investments. All income, gains, or losses from the investment needs to be allocated to the IRA.

To get the most out of your investment and avoid any tax issues, you should consider a Self-Directed IRA custodian. An IRA custodian is a financial institution that holds your account and makes sure that it adheres to all IRS and government regulations.

Finally, while most investors access alternative assets through their financial advisor or financial institution, there is a growing number of digital platforms that offer ways to buy them directly. If you are new to investing, we recommend working with a professional who understands the benefits and challenges of these non-traditional purchases.

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S Corp Distributions: The Nitty-Gritty

The sad truth is that every year, we have to file and pay our taxes.

While it definitely is a pain in the neck, it can also be an opportunity to evaluate your financial progress for the year. The goal for taxes is almost always to maximize your deductions while minimizing taxes, but often this is easier said than done.

One way savvy real estate investors can reduce their tax bills without running afoul of the IRS is by paying themselves as much as possible through S Corp distributions. If you want to learn more about the nitty and the gritty of S Corp distributions, read on.

s corp distributionsWhy Real Estate Investors Love S Corps

S Corps are considered a “pass-through” entity for tax purposes. This means that the business is not required to pay corporate income taxes. Rather, the profits and losses for the business are distributed to the owners and reported as their personal income.

This is a tremendous advantage over C Corps, which is the default tax status for a corporation. Any income that a C Corp makes is double-taxed: once at the corporate level and again on the individual owner’s income tax return. Designating your business as an S Corps allows your company’s profit to only be taxed once. 

You can also use an S Corp to reduce the burden of payroll and self-employment taxes. We’ll get more into this in a little bit. For now, just know that real estate investors often take advantage of these S Corp tax benefits.

However, S Corps will not be suitable for every investor. Due to the costs associated with an S Corp, it usually only makes sense for investors who are earning at least $50,000 annually from their business. If you’re making less than that, the costs of setting up and maintaining an S Corp will probably outweigh your tax savings. Talk to your CPA or a business lawyer to learn whether an S Corp can work for you. Or you can fill out our quick investor quiz and get the help you need.

s corp distributionsWhat Is An S Corp Distribution?

If you’ve never heard of an S Corp distribution before, prepare to meet your new best friend! An S Corp distribution is your proportional share of the S Corps earnings for the year, based on the number of shares you own. It’s the best way to take money out of an S Corp

If you’re the sole owner of your S Corp, you’ll just get 100% of the income. But if there are multiple shareholders, the earnings will be distributed on a per-share basis. The total earnings will be divided by the number of shares, and each shareholder will receive the same amount per share. So, while the shareholders might not all receive the same total amount, they must each receive an equal per-share payout.

For example, say an S Corp has issued 100 shares as follows:

So, if the business made a profit of $1 million, this is how the dividends would be distributed:

Limitations On Distributions

What’s great about distributions is that it’s considered “passive” income, which isn’t subject to payroll taxes. However, the IRS won’t let you skip out on payroll taxes altogether. 

Before you can receive any distributions, you’ll have to pay yourself a “reasonable” salary for your contributions to the business. The secret to maximizing your tax savings is to pay yourself the lowest reasonable salary possible and taking the rest of the profits as a distribution.

The IRS doesn’t provide any direct guidelines for how to determine if your salary is reasonable, but some factors to consider include:

If you set your salary too low, the IRS might reclassify some of your distributions as salary, which can lead to penalties and additional taxes. The best way to avoid scrutiny is to consult with your CPA or attorney before setting your salary.