Land Trust: The FAQs

If you’ve started learning about the land trust recently, questions are common. We’ve gone ahead and made some primers on what a land trust is and the benefits of the structure, but today, we’re going to answer your most Frequently Asked Questions about the land trust. The inboxes here at Royal Legal HQ are regularly flooded with the same questions–so we plan to start with those. If you have more, just let us know, because we’re always happy to answer your questions–in email or blog format. Let’s dive in.

Land Trust FAQ #1: I Heard Land Trusts Can “Get Around” the Due-on-Sale Clause for Easy LLC Transfers. Is it True?

Yes. Really. We have clients use land trusts for this purpose regularly: to obtain better financing  for an investment property. We’ve outlined the basic method before, but here are the broad strokes:

  1. Let your lawyer know what you’re up to.
  2. Buy in your own name for optimal loan terms.
  3. Transfer your property into a land trust.
  4. If desired, move the property from your anonymous land trust to the LLC of your choosing
  5. Enjoy the sweet relief of never worrying about the DoS again.

It really is that simple. We’ve never known someone who got in “trouble” because the worst thing that can happen with this method is receiving a love note from the bank. If this happens, your property can revert back to your name. You know, where it was in the first place. 

If you still want to protect the asset, it’s likely you made a misstep the first time. When executed with professional help, few investors ever get a letter from their bank because the bank is none the wiser. Breathe. Due-on-sale violations aren’t punishable by hard labor It’s not a crime to get better deals, and each piece of this plan is perfectly legal.

Land Trust FAQ #2: Do I Need Separate Land Trusts For Each Property?

Ideally, yes. While one land trust is better than none, the optimal strategy is to use one per property. That way, you can really enjoy each land trust benefit for each and every property, whether the benefit you want is:

  • Anonymity. Each trust will have its own name, and you can preserve anonymity better by using one per property
  • An easy way to split up Beneficial Interest in the property
  • A good way to use one or more properties to off-set the costs of major expenses such as a surprise medical cost or college tuition (Fun Fact: Our founder Scott Smith actually used a land trust to help himself pay for law school!)
  • Asset isolation. Individual land trusts provide more legal separation of assets, the other key to your lawsuit prevention strategy aside from anonymity

Land Trust FAQ #3: Some Blogger Said Land Trusts Aren’t the Same Thing As Asset Protection? WTF? 

Regular readers now wondering if we’ve been lying about everything all along like scorned spouses, slow your roll. Actually, anyone with this question can slow their roll. First of all, was Some Blogger a credentialed asset protection attorney? If not, exactly what makes them an expert on the topic? You can look up our credentials, read our reviews, etc. Do the same and check your source. 

Considering the Source of Legal Opinions

You’re looking to see if their opinion on asset protection is any more valuable than say, our opinion on the best color for your living room we’ve never seen (Coral. Totally go with coral). 

See the problem there? We don’t know what we’re matching to, what you like, or anything about you. Also, we’re lawyers, not interior decorators. Our lead attorney Scott Smith freely admits lacking interior decorating expertise–perhaps it was this lack of talent that forced him to turn to law, which he’s pretty darn good at. Remember, he used a land trust to offset law school costs. Did Some Blogger?

Scott’s opinion is the same as everyone else’s at RLS’s. Land trusts are a valuable component of an asset protection plan. That’s it.

By the way, even if Some Blogger is or claims to be a lawyer, remember this: no blog should create some kind of surprise attorney-client relationship. So, they aren’t your lawyer even if they are a lawyer. And just for the record, that same concept applies to this blog, even if you think our pearls of wisdom are awesome. That doesn’t make you a client; it makes you a passionate reader. We love both at RLS.

Bottom line: land trusts alone won’t always protect assets, but an asset is better protected in an land trust than in your own name. Land trusts aren’t an entire asset protection plan, but rather part of one.

Land Trust FAQ #4: Same Thing As Asset Protection? WTF? 

This ties back into #3. Land trusts aren’t a complete asset protection plan, but they have their place. What role the land trust will play in your plan is a professional’s place to help you decide. Regardless, this lesser-known tool can help most investors achieve their goals.

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