Florida Land Trusts Using Foreign Beneficiaries

Florida is one of six states (along with Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, North Dakota and Hawaii) that have specific statutes allowing a land trust to hold title to real estate. These statutes go back to 1963. Today, Florida land trusts are covered under the state’s 2006 Land Trust Act. Although the laws regarding land trusts in Florida have evolved over time, they remain a popular way to avoid Florida’s complicated probate process as well as purchase and hold property anonymously.

However, enjoying the benefits of a land trust can be a bit trickier when dealing with foreign beneficiaries. Today, we’ll go over the steps to setting up a Florida land trust with foreign beneficiaries. We’ll also highlight two important actions you need to take to avoid costly fines.

Steps to Setting up a Florida Land Trust with Foreign Beneficiaries

Step 1: Decide if a Florida Land Trust is Right for You

Once you understand the basics of land trusts and how they can work for you as a real estate investor, you'll probably want to learn more about how they work. In general, the land trust as a vehicle for holding real estate is an ideal estate planning and asset protection method. However, there are some scenarios where a land trust is not the right option. This article covers some scenarios in which a land trust may not be a good option.

Step 2: Establish Required Florida Land Trust Documents

A valid land trust in The Sunshine State requires two main documents:

  1. Deed to Trustee - This document moves property into the land trust.
  2. Trust Agreement - This document names trust beneficiaries, outlines the purpose of the trust, details the obligation of the trustee in respect to the property and covers several other details regarding control of the trust. While trust agreement templates can be found online, the wrong wording can lead to headaches down the line. We can advice you on structuring your land trust compliant to the Florida Land Trust Act.

Step 3: Fulfill Foreign Beneficiary Requirements

The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act requires that a land trust which is ten percent or more owned by a foreign person or entity be registered as an Alien Business Organization. As an Alien Business Organization, the trust must also have a registered agent. Failure to comply with these steps could result in a fine of up to $1,000 a day. Assigning foreign beneficiaries will require these extra steps, but beneficiary names will remain private and you will enjoy the same benefits as a trusts with domestic beneficiaries.

Setting Up A Land Trust in Florida

As you can see, the basic steps to setting up a land trust in Florida aren’t complex. However, when you consider multiple beneficiaries, Federal RICO ACT requirements and potential differences in Florida law compared to other states, things can get tricky. Our legal team can make sure you cover all your bases when forming an anonymous land trust. Plus, we offer our services at half the price of other companies. Contact us today at 512.757.399 for a consultation.

Last Updated: 
April 8, 2018

Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. He's on a mission to help fellow investors free their time, protect their assets, and create lasting wealth.

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