How to Control Property Without Owning It: 3 Simple Methods

We often emphasize that fabulously wealthy folks don’t own assets, they control them. It’s something we point out often at Royal Legal Solutions, because you don’t have to be rich (yet) to borrow a few things out of the Fabulously Wealthy Playbook. Let’s do a quick crash course in the top legal ways to control property without owning it for asset protection purposes. 

Method #1: Use Land Trusts

The handy anonymous land trust is one of the easiest methods of controlling property without owning. The trust simply holds title to the property for you, removing your name from any public record. You get anonymity, become tougher to attack legally, and are legally separate from the asset but reap its rewards as the beneficiary of your land trust.

Method #2: Use Liability-Limiting Entities Like LLCs and Series LLCs

Another great way to control an asset is with an entity. We like those that limit liability, because they help protect your assets in the event of a lawsuit or threat. 

Examples of the kinds of companies we’re talking about include:

  • The Traditional LLC (short for Limited Liability Company)
  • The Series LLC
  • The Delaware Statutory Trust for California investors

Each of these entities offers liability limitations inherently. You’re separated from your assets and any claims around your real estate can’t affect your personally. So say a tenant goes careening through your deck and hurts himself. He may try to sue for your property. 

Depending how you set up these entities, you can either stop the suit before it starts or make it a complete waste of the tenant’s (and more importantly, his attorney’s) time. Entities can be structured to separate assets from each other, limiting how much anyone can receive by court judgment. If you set up your companies with an attorney’s help, you can own them completely anonymously, making a lawsuit nearly impossible to file. Either way, companies are much tougher to sue than people and one of the smartest ways to control property.

Method #3: Use a Shell Corporation for Property Ownership

Why should you risk exposing your personal self or assets to the world? A shell corporation can do this for you and streamline your real estate investments, too. Most investors will find the Traditional LLC works just fine for a shell corp. If you already have one and it has never held your assets, you may consider using it.

Otherwise, you can easily form your LLC; property ownership and ALL of your other real estate investing operations can be performed from there: collecting rent, paying property management, etc. 

Next, you’ll need an asset-holding company for your properties. We recommend the Series LLC if you’ve got more than one property or ever plan to, because the Series LLC is a cost-effective, scalable entity option. 

All this company ever does is hang onto your assets for you. NEVER do business from your asset-holding company: that’s your shell company’s job. With this kind of structure, your two companies exist to handle assets and operations 100% separately and independently of one another. 

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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