Protection Strategy for 2 to 100 properties
We recommend a two company structure with a Series LLC and a Traditional LLC. The Series LLC can be established in a state with strong charging order protection, like Texas, Wyoming, Nevada, or Delaware, and then used anywhere just like a normal LLC. The series LLC is the vault that holds all your assets, including your real estate. This entity will hold all of your assets compartmentalized one from another, so that if there is a lawsuit against one asset it won’t affect the others. This is the same protection as individual LLC’s, but without the cost.
A friend of mine lost over $3,000,000 in real estate from a single lawsuit and he was very well insured. The mistake? Holding property in his personal name. When you hold assets in your personal name, or all together in a single LLC, you create a big pot of gold for an attorney filing frivolous claims to come after. The solution is the series LLC which puts each asset in its own bucket so if there is ever a suit, you lose little to nothing.
Real estate lawyer / Our client since 2017
The traditional LLC is used as an “operating company” that owns nothing, but does everything. It will enter into leases, sign contracts, send emails, etc. It is our “fall guy” that if there is a lawsuit they can’t maintain a legitimate suit against you or your asset holding company. This not only protects your assets, but also protects your personal credit score.
People don’t sue people who look like they qualify for food stamps. That’s what anonymity does for you. When all of your assets are hidden from the public record, and it looks like you own nothing, the attorneys filing frivolous claims don’t want anything to do with you.
The reason? Frivolous lawsuits look for vulnerable people and an easy payday. Since you are protected, you are not longer a good target and these sharky attorneys simply go find someone else to sue.
Creating anonymity is effective when done with a trust created through a law firm. In this way your name is removed from the records to disguise the ownership and nobody can even ask about it because of the attorney-client privilege.
One client doing a flip exchanged a few emails with the buyer about some of the plumbing in the house. Even though only the plumbing under the house was replaced, she wrote a single email that mentioned that “all the plumbing” was replaced. Three months after the sale, there was a plumbing leak in some unrelated plumbing in the house, but that email exchange was the basis for a letter threatening a $75,000+ lawsuit because of the damages. Because of the strength of the Asset Protection structure combined with the anonymity, it looked like my client qualified for food stamps and that suing her would have been horribly time consuming and expensive to fight through all the layers. The result? The lawsuit completely dropped without even paying a cent in settlement.
Your tax filings will stay exactly as they are now, and it is extremely flexible for any changes or special elections you would like to make. If you are an individual or married couple, you can treat the entities as pass through and file the income on your personal return. If you are unmarried partners, then you will issue one set of K1’s regardless of the number of child Series of the Series LLC and file one partnership return. See what I mean? Absolutely nothing changes except that your protection is much much higher.
I’ve been hearing that filing partnership returns has a lower audit risk. So if you’re being aggressive with your write off’s, you may want to consider taking this extra precaution even when you don’t have to.
Paying taxes is for the uninformed. A lot of people get this wrong and it’s one of the most powerful tools out there. I’m talking about growing your money in retirement accounts like Self Directed IRA’s and Solo 401K’s. You put yourself in control of your retirement funds. Between these two tools you can shelter about $60,000 of your income from taxes every year.
The best part? With the solo 401k you can loan yourself back up to 50% of the money. What’s even better? You and a friend can each loan each other money as well with the remainder. The net result? Having more cash on hand with the ability to use pre-tax dollars for your investing and living your life.
Picture how a normal business would run with an owner, property manager, and tenant. This is exactly how this structure works for payments. The tenant pays rent to the landlord, which is the traditional LLC. The traditional LLC is acting just like a property manager. The traditional LLC then turns around and pays out the money to the property owner. In this case the property owner is the Series LLC. At the end of the year, the Series LLC will distribute the profits to you for you to pay taxes (unless you’re using one of our tax savings strategies!).
Streamline your accounts. You only need two bank accounts no matter how big you get. One account for the Series LLC and one account for the Traditional LLC. The Series LLC is able to utilize a sole account as long as you maintain accurate accounting records for the income and expenses associated with each child series of the series LLC. This is usually accomplished through simple tagging in Quickbooks for each child series. However, you can use whatever accounting method you like.
Always be well insured, but just don’t plan on a profit seeking corporation who makes money by collecting premiums and denying coverage to protect you. Your insurance should stay exactly the same way it is now. Simply add the land trusts to the existing insurance policies as an additional insured. Some clients still like to have an umbrella policy. I think it’s overkill, but I love insurance and I pay for that policy just because it gives me extra peace of mind.
One and done, for forever. After your Living Trust is set up to own your asset holding company, you’ll never need to touch it again. No updates, ever. All of your assets go in and out of your Asset Holding Company and the Living Trust designates how the Asset Holding Company will be divided. This is far superior that titling assets in and out of the Living Trust directly because it is much more streamlined.
If you want to change your Living Trust, we let you do it at any time, for any reason, and always at no cost. Having a Living Trust in place protects your kids, protects your heirs, and protects your entire net worth from being broad casted publicly and on the internet. Along with the Living Trust, we recommend a Pour Over Will as a “catch all” to anything you forgot or elected not to put into your Asset Holding Company during your life.
Whatever way you do it, the structure protects you. Use your Traditional LLC in all instances whenever possible when contracting. Your Traditional LLC will serve as your property management entity through which you will operate. Alternatively, you can elect to have the Asset Holding Company directly contract with a 3rd party property manager. This is less secure, but sometimes it’s the only way they will do business.
It’s just as quick and easy with no title hangups. The asset will legally be held in a land trust and you, as trustee of that trust, can sell the property directly out of that trust.
Make your money first. You will always want to get the cheapest financing you can, which means maxing out your first 10 conforming loans. Acquire the properties in your personal name, and then transfer the assets into the Asset Holding Company by deeding the property into the land trust. Because it is deeded to a land trust, this will avoid the Due On Sale Clause and will often times will avoid transfer taxes and other fees assessed by the state. One of our specialities is in avoiding those fees to make Asset Protection as affordable as possible to as many people as possible.