Benefits Of LLC For Rental Property Ownership

As a rental property owner, you are accustomed to solving many different kinds of problems. Ensuring you are protected in case something goes wrong is one of the problems. So we're going to talk about the benefits of having a limited liability company (LLC) for rental property investing.

This is where many owners will say, “I have asset protection insurance, so I am protected if something bad happens” It is true that insurance covers accidents, but you'll start to understand the benefits of using an LLC  for rental property ownership if you watch this video:

Why an LLC Can Protect Assets Better Than Insurance

Insurance will not protect you from most lawsuits regarding the buying and selling of real estate. Every time that you're entering into a contract, selling a piece of property, or leasing property to a new tenant, insurance doesn't give you the asset protection strategy you need.

This happened to one of my clients after the sale of a property: After the sale took place the buyer emailed asking if my client had replaced the plumbing under the house. My client simply replied via email that he had replaced, “all of it.” In the context that would be understood as all the plumbing under the house. However, the buyer misinterpreted that email as referring to all the plumbing in the house.

These types of miscommunications happen all the time. Especially now that texting is more and more common between renters and their landlords! This is only one example of an issue that insurance may not cover. This is where the LLC comes in to save you.

Benefits of Owning an LLC For Rental Property

Real estate LLCs are powerful entities that separate the liability of your asset from your personal name. When there is a lawsuit against your rental property, it cannot impact your personal assets. It also means that if you are personally sued, your LLC assets will be protected. In addition, when a lawsuit occurs against the LLC, it will not impact your personal credit score.

Operating an LLC is quite simple, but must be done properly in order to reap its benefits. Forming an LLC is quite straightforward, but needs to be done correctly the first time. To create an LLC you need to select a name for the LLC that the state approves. After that, you choose a registered agent. You will need to file the Certificate of Formation and create an Operating Agreement. Finally, the state will assign you an Employer Identification Number (EIN.)

One LLC is Great! How About More?

An LLC is a great entity, but your rental property still holds a lot of liability. No investor likes having the possibility of losing an entire property to a lawsuit. Because of this, many will create additional layers of defense. The first of these layers is a secondary LLC. This LLC carries out the operations of the company. People refer to this LLC as a “shell company.”

The operations LLC doesn’t own any property. It simply functions similarly to a property management company for your “asset holding LLC.” That means it collects rent, pays contractors, and carries out the operations of that property. This tag-team duo is called a two-company structure. The operating LLC holds most of the liability and is most likely to be sued. However, you only risk the money in THAT LLC. The asset-holding LLC is not involved, and thus the rental property is still legally separated.

Have more than one rental property? You can scale your asset holding LLC up to a Series LLC. This entity scales infinitely with your portfolio. In this case, you can still be using the operating LLC to carry out the activities for all these different rentals without risking any of your properties directly.

Protect Your Investments From Claims

An insurance claim usually results from a "slip and fall" on a property or something else you would normally characterize as an accident. Typically this is what your insurance is willing to cover. But your insurance doesn't cover you for any intentional acts that might occur.

What's considered an intentional act? Well, that depends on what you consider to be intentional. And that's where the law comes in!

In the example above, my client was hit with a lawsuit alleging intentional fraud, an incident that insurance doesn't cover. Yet even after this simple misunderstanding, my client walked away from that lawsuit without paying a dime. This was all because she had a proper asset protection strategy in place.

Benefits of Forming an LLC (And A Few Risks)

By reading this article you are either a real estate investor or an aspiring real estate investor. You have surely talked with people discussing LLCs (Limited Liability Companies.) One of the struggles investors run into is finding reliable information that they can trust. Learning about the benefits of forming an LLC is no different.

Today I will tackle how to start an LLC. I will also list the risks involved in operating an LLC. After all, knowing the weaknesses of an entity can allow you to build a stronger strategy. This allows you to sleep well at night knowing all your bases are covered.

Benefits of an LLC

There are many benefits to using a LLC as the foundation of your real estate business. The most important benefit is that this entity limits liability and minimizes personal exposure in the event of a lawsuit. When a LLC owns a property it will be responsible for the property in court, not you. If the lawsuit it lost, the losses are limited to what is in the LLC.

Avoids the issue of “double taxation.” The LLC gives you the ability to file the property as a pass-through entity. You list any profits, or losses, on your personal tax return. But LLCs are flexible! They can be taxed differently depending on your needs. See our article on the tax benefits of the LLC for more.

The LLC can be formed and operated in all 50 states and is uniformly upheld across the United states. You can choose to form a LLC in your local state or in a any other state, depending on your needs.

A LLC can also function as a “operating company.” Sometimes also referred to as a “shell company.” Using a LLC in this way allows investors to limit their exposure even further! Utilizing a LLC as an operating company means that it holds the liability for your business operations. The difference is that you don’t place any assets in it. When it gets involved in a lawsuit you aren’t risking your properties, just your LLC. This article and video explains what this structure will look like.


Risks of an LLC

There is no “perfect” business entity, and the LLC is no exception to this rule. The important thing is to understand its strengths AND weaknesses to ensure your asset protection strategy is effective.

Most LLCs will have an annual fee and corporate management requirements. This will vary from state-to-state, so be sure to know what your state requires.

You need to form and operate the LLC to ensure it provides the liability protection you want. If you don’t form and operate the LLC properly, you are investing into an entity that does not protect you! This type of work needs to be done right the first time. You can also pay someone experienced who will file the entity and teach them you how to operate it right from the start.

The LLC will require separate banking, records and tax returns. This is to ensure that you are able to prove it operates separately from you. This also means more work for you. Once you get the hang of these entities it is very simple, but the learning curse can be rough.

All properties owned by a LLC are held in a “pool,” and are not protected from each other. This is why we recommend that investors with more than a single investment property use the series LLC instead.

Why Using A LLC For Asset Protection Benefits You

If you are a real estate investor chances are that you have already heard about using a LLC (Limited Liability Company) for asset protection. Creating a LLC takes some time and money. Because of this it turns a lot of investors away from the entity. Allow me to make a case for the benefits this entity offers you. After all, as a good investor you need to justify every cost! Otherwise you wouldn’t have wealth and assets to protect.

An investor who does not use some kind of entity to own their property is risking everything to a single lawsuit. Even worse, if that investor has entered into partnerships with other investors they likely used a general partnership (a handshake.) From an attorney’s point-of-view this ownership structure is ideal because it exposes the investor. This meas a judgement against the investor could take everything owned in your name.


Benefits of Investing with a LLC

By forming and operating a LLC properly will allow the liability of anything you place in the LLC is separated from your personal name. If a lawsuit does occur, the judgement is  limited to the assets within the LLC. Not only does this mean you are risking less in a worst-case-scenario, but it also means you are less likely to face that scenario. Why? People will have less incentive to sue you, since you are limiting the potential earnings they could take.

Take a scenario where someone initiates a lawsuit and you lose, but you hold that property in a LLC. The lawsuit would only impact the assets within the LLC. While you could lose that single property to a lawsuit, it is a much better option than losing the property AND your personal assets. The cost of forming a LLC protects your house and other assets from landing in a future settlement or judgement. And this protection scales for investors with large portfolios utilizing entities such as the Series LLC.


Operating a LLC for Asset Protection

Setting up a LLC can take anywhere between a few weeks to a couple months, depending on whether the state approves the name you select for your LLC. Once the LLC is formed you will receive an EIN and can set up a bank account. This allows you to operate the LLC separate from your personal finances. You will balance all collections and expenses through the LLC bank account, proving it can operate on its own. When tax season comes around most people simply have the LLC function file as a pass-through entity.

The Importance of Anonymity for Your LLC

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) has more than fairly earned its reputation as an excellent foundation for asset protection. But even the trusty LLC isn’t the be-all and end-all of your asset protection strategy. LLC anonymity is another piece of the puzzle.

True, LLCs and Series LLCs make wonderful entities for protecting your real estate investments and other high-dollar assets, but did you know these entities can actually become even stronger? The secret component that can strengthen any investor’s asset protection plan is actually critical for preventing lawsuits and even keeps identity thieves at bay. If you haven’t yet guessed, that secret ingredient is anonymity. And there’s more than one way to achieve a truly anonymous LLC.

Let's look at a few of them now.

Don’t Assume Your LLC Is Already Anonymous 

Unless you made a conscious choice to buy an anonymous LLC, odds are good that your traditional LLC  has membership recorded somewhere on the public record. If that’s the case, don’t panic! You can still take proactive action to increase your anonymity.

But of course, the best thing any investor can do is not compromise anonymity in the first place.

In most states, members of LLCs must be recorded by the Secretary of State. Those sites are a quick web search away, so anyone who can type can find an LLC’s owners. For this reason, most LLCs aren’t truly anonymous. If you record your real name, you can be directly tied to your LLC, which means it’s not really protecting you.

Although there’s a surprising amount of consistency between traditional LLCs, each state’s asset protection laws are unique. Most investors don’t even take an up-close look at the state statutes for LLCs/series LLCs until they’re planning to buy an entity for themselves. If you’ve already established yours, you should know if you took anonymity steps.

If your attorney took these extra steps, to make sure your LLC was anonymous, your attorney likely would have mentioned it at the time of formation.

If you have specific questions about how protecting your anonymity preserves your hard work, speak with a qualified real estate attorney as well as an advisor who is familiar with your investment market(s). Let’s shift gears and dive into the decision-making process you’ll use to select the entity for your real estate investing business.

Options for Forming Anonymous LLCs

We’ve chosen two of the easiest methods any investor can use to form an anonymous LLC. Let’s break down two of the most common options for real estate investors who need anonymous LLCs.

Method #1: Use Land Trusts Alongside Your LLC Structure

The Anonymous Land Trust is commonly referred to as a title-holding trust, because that’s exactly what it does. These revocable trusts can be used in conjunction with LLCs in several ways.

First, a land trust may be the owner of an LLC. So even if you must record your LLC’s ownership for the public record, you can still remain personally anonymous. The harder you are to tie to your LLC, the better protected you are. Anyone who goes digging won’t see your name on the public record, or that of your other members if it’s a multi-member LLC. They’ll see the name of your anonymous land trust.

If you want total anonymity, you can even pre-select an individual to sign in your place on business documents. Regardless, you can enjoy the other benefits of the land trust, which include the ability to easily assign interest to new partners. Anyone in your LLC or even a joint venture-owned property in a trust can be made a beneficiary of the trust. One of the many lesser-known perks of the anonymous land trust is it makes adding investors and dividing property simple.

Method #2: Purchase an Anonymous LLC From a Service Offering One

Not all real estate attorneys or even asset protection professionals offer a pre-fabricated anonymous LLC, but those who do generally can substantiate what they’ve done to make their LLC truly anonymous. If their webpage doesn’t offer an explanation on the anonymity benefits of such an offering, you can even dial up the firm and ask questions. 

Keep in mind that people in all sorts of positions pick up law firm phones, so you might get a great receptionist who takes a detailed note and gets you a callback, a busier staffer who simply takes your number, or you could luck out and get to talk to an attorney briefly about your question. Most firms have staffers who can help explain their products, so don’t assume only the attorney whose name you see on the sign is the only person who can help with your question. A reputable law firm will generally have many qualified people around to help you understand their services.

Knowing how to select a good law-firm option often comes down to asking the right questions. Some key things to look for if you’re not sure about an Anonymous LLC offering include these details:

If you’re willing and able to ask these questions, you can shop around and find the right offering for you. Don’t be afraid to look beyond your home state, either, particularly if you live in one that only offers the Traditional LLC. You may be able to solve two or more problems, like creating an out-of-state entity for real estate and managing multiple properties, with the Series LLC—an entity available in under 20 states.

Even if yours isn’t on the list of states currently offering Series LLCs, the good news is that REIs can select any state as “home base” for business. This is true no matter what kind of company you form. Learn more about the best states for forming LLCs or Series LLCs if you are considering making this type of move. You may also be interested in our article, Anonymity & The LLC: States Where Business Owners Love The Laws.

Bottom Line: Preserve Your Anonymity to Decrease Your Odds of Lawsuits

Let’s not lose sight of why anonymity is so important. An ideal asset protection plan must contain anonymity because personal anonymity is the easiest way to maintain legal distance from the liabilities associated with your real estate assets. Whether you achieve anonymity through vigilance about online conduct and information security, via anonymous land trusts, or by forming an anonymous LLC with an attorney’s help, you’ll find the peace of mind you get when you live free of worry is well worth the effort of creating your protections.

Using Corporations to Manage Real Estate LLCs: The REI's Basic Guide

It’s important to set up your real estate LLCs the right way.

Improperly established, noncompliant or mismanaged LLCs are pointless at best and costly at worst. Your entire asset protection can be undermined by one poorly structured or managed entity, because the entity is such a crucial piece of any asset protection plan.

No matter what kind of real estate LLC you use—Traditional LLC, Series LLC,  a combination of both, a special variation like a married couple LLC, or even multiple LLCs with other structures on top—you must ensure your business choices are clearly conveyed in your paperwork. This includes your Operating Agreement, which can be amended, but functions as your LLC’s Bible. So, it’s actually best to get your agreements with any partners, rules, expectations, and plans for dividing profits and losses in lockstep and recorded in ink accurately from the moment you form the company.

It’s equally critical that you know who is going to manage the LLC and how. After all, you do get to make this decision. All too often, members of multi-member LLCs don’t understand the depth of their options, but you’re not going to be one of them.

Here’s the straight dope on using a corporation to manage an LLC, what alternatives you have, and how to decide if corporate LLC management is right for you.

Can a Corporation Manage an LLC?

Usually people ask if a corporation can own an LLC, but this is an example of someone asking the wrong question for the information they seek. Of course a company can buy an LLC, but we’re referring to using a corporation in lieu of a single human manager.

So yes, a corporation can manage an LLC. But it’s far from the most common type of LLC management.

Ways You Can Manage Your Real Estate LLC

To know if going the corporation management route is right for your LLC, you’re going to have to consider the other ways investors manage their companies. Most people go with one of two options:

Investors usually choose their management style. If you have a great person in mind and nobody on your team will rise to the occasion, a manager’s a great way to go. If each member has confidence the manager is trustworthy, and all ensure that the Operating Agreement of the LLC accurately reflects their desires, then a manager can be a great thing for a real estate LLC.

When a corporation manages your LLC, you can think of the corporation as standing in for a human manager. There’s actually a long history in American law of treating corporations as people, a concept known as corporate personhood in legalese. Depending on the type of corporation you form, you may have several individuals collectively making decisions about your daily operations. Note that your corporation can actually have an unlimited number of managers internally.

Check out our article, Manager-Managed LLCs vs. Member-Managed LLCs: What’s Best for Real Estate Investors?

How Do You Form a Corporation to Manage Real Estate Investments?

Forming a corporation is easy. All you really need to form one is the help of a business or real estate attorney.

But first, are you sure you need a corporation? For many investors, using a corporation is overkill. Most are just fine with cheaper entities.

You need to have an idea of what you want to do. You also need to be clear on what a corporation actually is. First of all, we’ve got two options: the C-Corporation and S-Corporation. Of the two, the S-Corporation is far more popular.

Corporations require many more legal steps than LLCs, including:

Some businesses need the benefits of corporations, so the regulations are simply the price of admission.

A corporation only helps protect your assets if it’s in lock-step with your business plans. For this reason, many investors choose to form their own. That way they can be sure the corporation is friendly to the LLC. 

As I said, using a corporation is overkill for many real estate investors. Most are just fine with cheaper entities.

A Happy Medium: The LLC Taxed as an S-Corporation

The most obvious alternative to a corporation is using a more traditional management style for your LLC: member-managed or manager-managed. But you’ve got creative entity options, too. We’ve talked about some LLC and Series LLC perks already, but did you know that your LLC can be taxed as an S-Corp?

Real estate investors opt for this choice because:

Now that you’ve gotten the basics down, consider the details of your jurisdiction. In many states, including Texas where Royal Legal Solutions is based, you can convert an LLC into a Corporation. This detail may be helpful to ask your attorney about if you’d like to use an existing corporation. In states that permit such conversions, an investor with an unused LLC may be able to save some major cash by converting into rather than forming a corporation. That said, always check with your personal counsel to be sure this is true for you. 

Making the Choice: Is A Corporation-Managed LLC Right for Me?

Determining whether corporate management is the best move for you will depend on several personal factors. You may first consider whether such management is necessary. Small businesses may find that a corporation is more trouble than it’s worth, and that an LLC or two-company Series LLC and shell corporation structure is more effective. Professional help from a qualified real estate lawyer will be a necessity regardless of your entity choices.

While the vast majority of investors decide against managing their real estate LLCs with corporations, your situation may call for such a structure. Learn what you can about your alternatives such as taxing an LLC as an S-Corporation, as well as using other structures or management styles.

We believe it’s best to assess your members’ basic needs and study corporation management before making this judgment call. So keep reading. Finishing this article’s a great start. But we hope you’ll continue learning the best strategies for managing your business. 

Manager-Managed LLCs vs. Member-Managed LLCs: What's Best for Real Estate Investors?

When you establish an LLC, you must plan for its management. LLCs may divide decision-making powers among members or select a manager. If your LLC is single-member, you assume managerial powers, but multi-member LLCs must decide. To make the best choice, check out our breakdown of member-managed LLCs, manager-managed LLCs, their differences, and how to address concerns around manager-managed LLCs.

Member-Managed LLCs vs. Manager-Managed LLCs: The Key Differences

Every LLC must decide between a member-managed or manager-managed structure. A member-managed LLC is the norm. These function like democracies, as power is equitably divided among the members. A manager-managed LLC, however, designates one person for managerial powers. Manager-management can help particularly large companies make decisions.

Whether the manager’s a “professional” or picked from the LLC’s members, the critical thing to know is that they have power over the entire LLC. Consider these company-wide powers delegated to managers:

If you’re appointing a manager, read your LLC’s paperwork carefully before signing to ensure power is limited and manager responsibilities are clear. Even LLCs using managers don’t surrender these member powers:

Managers of LLCs must meet more compliance criteria than members. Managers have to play by both the rules of the company and the law.

Making the Choice: Does Your LLC Need a Manager?

The manager holds a specific legal role. You may select a “professional” manager, as some multi-member LLCs do, or select a manager from among your members. But here are the key issues to be aware of should you choose this route:

The good news is this: for every concern you have, there are ways to address it.

Using a Manager-Managed LLC: Tips for Mitigating Risks

A beautiful thing about the LLC is you have choices. Once you’ve made decisions, they’ll be in plain black-and-white ink for anyone to read in the form of your Operating Agreement. This is your LLC’s Bible.

For instance, some of the concerns about abuse of power are easily prevented by addressing these possibilities and creating checks (like requiring a member vote) in your Operating Agreement. You may choose to make amending the Operating Agreement more difficult or bar managers from making certain calls without member consent. In fact, any matter you’d like member consent on can be accounted for before LLC formation.

The best way to control for problems is in your Operating Agreement prior to forming your LLC. Of course, LLC members truly worried about hierarchy can side-step the entire issue easily by simply forming a member-managed LLC.

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:

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. 

For a deeper look at all this stuff, check out our article, Control Without Ownership: The Smart Way Real Estate Investors Own Property.

How Does a Series LLC Work?

The Series LLC will work it's much like a parent/child structure. At the very top, you'll have your parent, the series LLC. The state assigns an EIN number and an official formation document for the state (Delaware, Nevada, Texas, etc).

Below the series LLC, you have the actual individual series. You'll have series A, series B, etc. Therefore, these are what I refer to as the "children."

A parent Series LLC can have as many children series it wants. Each one of these series is going to be treated as if it were its own LLC, for liability purposes. So, we hold an individual property or asset in each given series. In the case there is a lawsuit resulting in action against a house in series A, it won't affect the house in series B, C, etc.

Now you may have the need to be able to do joint ventures as your real estate business grows. These function just like LLCs. Due to that Series C could be a joint venture agreement with as many people as you would like. It'll have its own EIN number, tax return and its own operating agreement to conduct the business of that JV agreement.

With a series LLC, what it will allow you to do is to expand your business in a very professional way, protect your assets. So with all of these companies and all of these assets that you own individually, this will pass straight up through the series to have one tax return. Which means thousands of dollars a year in tax preparation savings for you.

My name is Scott Royal Smith, I'm an asset protection attorney focused on real estate asset protection and I'd like to help you.

Becoming Judgment-Proof Against Litigation


Becoming Judgment-Proof Against Litigation

Becoming Judgement-proof may sound strange, but as a real estate investor you are in one of the most litigated industries in the United States of America. The United states is one of the most litigious countries in the world. You are exposed, especially if you hold assets in your personal name.

Hi, my name is Scott Smith, and I'm an asset protection attorney in the real estate industry, and I'm a real estate investor myself. What I do for my clients is make them judgement proof. That means if anybody were to sue you, they'd get nothing. This is the peace of mind that you can't get any other way when you're ever threatened with a lawsuit.

You might not know this, but a lawsuit is ranked one of the top three things that people find the most distressing events in their life, up there with divorce and bankruptcy. I can help you prevent from ever having that worry, and I do this in the same way that the really rich do it.

Using LLCs to Become Judgement-Proof

The truth is that the rich don't own assets, they only control them. They do this through a network of LLCs and trusts, which protect their assets and allow them to hide them from anybody looking to come after them.

Now imagine the disappointment of anybody looking to sue you when they find out that it looks like on paper you don't own anything. In fact, it would look like you would even qualify for food stamps. Who'd sue somebody that looks like they own nothing?

I can help you set this up, my name is Scott Smith, I'm with Royal Legal Solutions, contact us today and let's get going.

Why Lawsuits Against a Series LLC Go Nowhere

If you’ve got money, people want it. Lawsuits are one of the easiest, yet still legal, ways for people to take your money. The more money you have the more likely it is someone will try to take it from you in a lawsuit. The same applies to your LLC if you have one.

The more money you have located inside of any individual LLC, the more attractive it's going to be for someone to sue you.  Lawsuits against a series LLC, on the other hand, are a dead-end for money-hungry lawyers and litigants.

Lawsuits are all about how much money can I get out of somebody, and if there's a million dollars sitting inside of an LLC in equity or cash, well, that might be something that I really wanna go after.

That's why you should limit the equity of any individual LLC to $200,000.

Note: This is not the case if you're using a series LLC for real estate, because series LLCs allow you to compartmentalize those assets. So, you don't have the same worries there that we do inside of a traditional LLC.

However, I think that usually a few million dollars inside a series LLC makes it reasonable to be able to create a new entity just in case. Why not? Expenses that you're being able to incur by having to create a new series LLC,are far less than the amount of risk that you pose when you're risking millions of dollars in equity.

You can read about what the IRS thinks about an LLC here.  But know this: The more money or equity you have inside your individual LLC, the more attractive it’s going to be for someone to sue you. And when they do, all of your assets will be caught under one legal net.

That’s why, compared to an LLC, a series LLC offers far more protection for you and your assets when it comes to lawsuits. Compartmentalizing assets means you can spread your assets out so in case someone does sue you, only one of your assets will be at risk.

Using a Series LLC for Real Estate Investment Protection

One of the best asset protection companies for real estate investors is the Series LLC. It's been around since 1996, originally started in Delaware but it spread through a number of states now. This allows you to form a Series LLC in their state and use the company in any state.

First, learn about the Series LLC vs LLC you probably know about. Then you'll start to understand that the Series LLC (unlike its more traditional counterpart) operates much like a parent-child type of relationship. You have one series LLC, this is the company named something like "Worldwide Investments LLC," for example. It will actually be filed in the state of Texas and that will have its certification of formation and all of those formal documents. Documents which certify that is a legitimate LLC inside of that state.

Series LLC Formation

Series LLC has special provisions inside of a formation as well as operating agreement which gives it the ability to have children, as many children as it would like in fact. Each child is known as its series. So we'll have series A. Later you can form series B, which is separate legally from the first. You can have unlimited series within a Series LLC. That's advantageous, because each series is treated individually for liability purposes, just as if it were its own limited liability company.

This means that if you have a property, a single property that's held by series A, which is what I'd recommend. We should be compartmentalizing our assets as investors. Because what we want is if there's a lawsuit regarding series A, it doesn't affect series B, C, D,etc. for every asset that we have. A incident works much like a single purpose LLC.

Series LLC Taxes

Series LLCs is also advantageous because they allow one EIN number that's filed underneath this company name. That allows us to streamline our tax preparation so that we're not having to do individual company filing.

Legal Considerations

Now, there's some apprehension in the industry regarding whether a series LLC would be recognized in a state that doesn't formally have a law both in Washington and created there. I personally believe that there's good reasons to think that due to the growing trends nationally these companies will be recognized if ever challenged. There's not a lot of case law on that fact though, but there's a lot of good reasons and precedent that we typically do recognize a company formed in Texas that would be operating, say, in Idaho. Idaho will recognize a Texas company.

These are LLCs. Just like any other LLC. Just with one small caveat, that it can create tiers. But, for the more conservative investor that has any apprehensions about that, I would recommend using a traditional single purpose, limited liability company for each property.

Costs Of Operating An LLC Vs. a Series LLC for Real Estate

You have to pay for the series LLC tax preparation for each one of those companies at the end of the year, you're gonna have to pay for the formation of those companies, operations, management, and registered agent of those companies which can be hundreds of dollars per year. And you're gonna have to pay what the overall complications and operations of those companies.

So you have to weigh your odds and how you feel about the Series LLC versus the single purpose limited liability company. My opinion is that the Series LLC is the way to go.

My name is Scott Royal Smith, with Royal legal solutions, I'm an asset protection attorney focused in real estate, and I'd like to help you. Set up a consultation to see how the Series LLC can streamline your asset protection protection today!

How to Protect Your IRA in Two Steps

How to Protect Your IRA in Two Steps

People will tell you that your IRA is safe and they're wrong. Your IRA is only safe from a lawsuit against you and somebody coming after your IRA. If your IRA is invested in an asset class such as real estate where it can be sued, the IRA itself is exposed. Your IRA is exposed in the sense that it can be disqualified. If any of the transactions of the IRA are exposed.

There's two things that we do. The first thing that we do is, we can split up multiple IRA accounts. That way if any one type of investment is disqualified or has some type of issue that the IRS would look at? This limits your exposure, because it's only that one account that we have to worry about.

The second thing that you could do is set up a self-directed IRA with an LLC. I like to do it with a Series LLC. What that allows us to do is if you look at our videos regarding the Series LLC structure, we can take each different asset belonging to the IRA and put it into its own series.

That way if there's an issue with asset A, it doesn't affect asset B, C, D, etc. And this way, if you have one property that has a lawsuit against it, somebody can't take your entire IRA amount. They could only take a very limited amount of that structure.  Be sure that your IRA is properly structured with asset protection, because it's not by default the safest way to do it.

My name is Scott Smith, I'm an asset protection attorney with real estate. I'm a real estate investor myself, and I want to help you. Click here to set up a consultation today!

LLCs Can Function as Pass-Through Entities

LLCs Can Function as Pass-Through Entities

The LLC, or Series LLC, has the easiest tax returns for a single member. It's known as a pass through-entity. This means that all of the income from your company's able to be recorded on your personal income tax return. You don't have to pay thousands of dollars to CPA take people to file that business tax return that you would have to do otherwise.

This is also true if it's you and your spouse filing jointly for your income taxes. Some states they require multiple members, so this can be a huge leg up when it comes time for ease of use of tax preparation.

Let's take for example that you both have you and a partner inside of the LLC. You're going to have to file what's known as a partnership return. A partnership return is a separate return for the business itself. You're going to need somebody to help you repair that return, to which I suggest you hire a good CPA who is also a real estate investor to be able to help you prepare the return.

Also note that an LLC is able to be taxed as a corporation Some instances it can make sense in terms for your operating company to have that LLC taxed as an s corporation. So keep that in mind.

My name is Scott Smith. I'm an asset protection attorney, a real estate investor, and I want to help you. Click here to schedule a consultation today!

Why Asset Protection is a Must

If you're a real estate investor and you own assets in your personal name, you need to pick up the clue phone. It's ringing.

You're in the most litigated industry and the most litigious country in the world. Do you really want to own assets in a way that allows anybody with a good lawyer to attack and plunder?

You're investing thousands and thousands of dollars into acquiring a property, right? It might be a smart asset protection tactic to spend a little bit of money and set yourself up to be protected.

Listen: Rich people don't "own" assets and there's a good reason for that. When you own assets, people can see your ownership and get to them.

You need a network of LLCs and trusts to protect your assets. Hide them from people looking to sue you to get after your hard-earned dollars.

When they look to launch a lawsuit against you, you need to make them understand that they're going to get nothing, Because it looks like on paper that you own nothing. You need to be legally judgment proof that even if somebody were to successfully sue you, it can't actually hurt you.

Advantages of Having an LLC Over Insurance For Asset Protection

Advantages of Having an LLC Over Insurance For Asset Protection

Insurance will not protect you from most lawsuits that will happen regarding the transaction of your buying and selling of real estate. Every time that you're entering into a contract. Every time you actually sell a piece of property, every time you lease to a new tenant. These are all things insurance doesn't cover. Because of that, the only way for you to save your hard earned dollars is an asset protection strategy. That is the proper LLC and company structure.

Set up an asset protection consultation today!

What is a Pass-Through Entity & How Does It Help Real Estate Investors?

A pass through entity is a business structure, such as an LLC, Series LLC, or S-corporation. We use the term “pass through” because you can claim the income of these types of businesses on your personal income tax returns. Ordinarily, you would have to file a separate return for your business (or businesses).

The chief benefit of using a pass-through entity is that you won’t be taxed twice. Nor will you end up paying a CPA  thousands of dollars to file a business tax return. Typically, other types of business structures will be obligated to file such a business return. We'll talk more about the best entity for real estate investors below.

Some of you may be starting to think this doesn't apply to you because you file a return jointly with your spouse. Well, you can relax. This poses no problems, and all the benefits described above would still apply. But there are some instances where you will have to file a separate return, despite using a pass through entity. The main case for this is if you're using a partnership return.

The Partnership Return and Taxes

Some states require at least two members in an LLC. So let’s say you file your LLC in one of these states and have another partner in it besides yourself.
In this scenario, you’re going to have to file a document called a partnership return. A partnership return is a separate return for your business itself. By separate, we mean separate from your personal taxes.

Due to the complexity of a partnership return and its filing process, you would be wise to recruit somebody to help you prepare it. I suggest you hire a CPA, ideally one who is also a real estate investor, to assist you in preparing your return. And now, onto the bigger concern for real estate investors.

Which Pass Through Entity Is Best For A Real Estate Investor?

I so love when the answers to complex questions like these are simple. This one can be answered in three words: the Series LLC. Hands down.
The Series LLC offers unbeatable asset protection, easy tax filing and is the foundation of a solid asset protection plan. To illustrate how this works, play along with the following example.

Say you own 6 properties. Instead of holding all 6 properties in one LLC, with a Series LLC you can create a “series” within your LLC. Each series will hold a single property.  So you'll have seven companies total: the parent company, and then 6 individual series for your assets.

The benefit of this is if someone sues one of your series and wins, only that one property in that individual series will be vulnerable to costly judgments. That means the remainder, and likely the vast  majority, of your wealth and assets would be protected. The Series structure protects those other assets and isolates them from the one in the line of legal fire.

Another great benefit is, no matter how many “series” you have within your LLC, they can all be filed on the same income tax return. This is a huge money-saver that you won't receive with a Traditional LLC. If you want to learn more, read my previous post about how the Series LLC works for real estate investors.


What is a Charging Order?

So what's a charging order? I'd like to answer this question with a story.

Let's say I'm a real estate investor (I really am) who has all his properties properly structured inside of an LLC. One day I get into a car wreck.

This results in a judgment against me because it exceeded the limits of the liability for my auto-insurance policy. Because of that they want to try and shake down my LLC.

But they can't touch my LLC.  This is due to the protections that an LLC gives you. It allows your assets to be protected from the personal actions you take in your day to day life. And then of course the charging order comes into play.

How Charging Orders Work

The charging order protects you from creditors. It's not something you get in the mail. In most states, there are 3 things a charging order prevents creditors from doing:

  1. Taking your membership interest in an LLC,
  2. Taking over the management function of your LLC
  3. Force your LLC to sell its assets

In the unlikely event you do lose a lawsuit with an LLC, you'll be okay for the most part. However, you don't just get off "Scott free" (ironically, my name is Scott and I get people off all the time when it comes to lawsuits.)

How a Lien Can Affect Your LLC

What they can do is put a lien against your LLC.  If the creditors put a lien against your LLC, that means any distributions from your LLC to you will go straight to your creditors.

Not to worry, there are ways around a lien if you do ever end up with one against your LLC, or an LLC you have an interest in.
One of the ways to get around a lien is to sell your interest in the LLC to another party. They won't be able to touch the money you gain from that sale, which makes the lien useless.

Make sure you know the laws regarding a charging order before you form one in a specific state. As always when it comes to an LLC structure. some states offer certain advantages and disadvantages.

Fun Fact: The charging order wasn't originally created to protect debtors. It was actually meant to protect co-owners of an LLC from having to work with creditors or a deceased co-owners spouse.

Thanks for reading. If you need assistance with your LLC, contact us today.

Do I Need A Registered Agent for My Out Of State LLC?

Whether you're new to the real estate business or not, if you do business outside of your home state you're going to need an LLC registered agent. Learn more about this requirement and how to satisfy it below.

Why a Registered Agent Is Required For Every LLC

An LLC registered agent is required in every state that it does business. The only reason for the registered agent to even exist is because if someone wants to sue your LLC, and they're not able to get to a member or manager personally to be able to serve them. Then this allows them to serve the lawsuit onto the Secretary of State and be able to have a person that must receive service of process or the lawsuit. Typically, these services are able to be engaged for anywhere from between 40 and $75 per year online. And they're all fungible, meaning that they're all the same, no matter where you go. So I always recommend saying, what's the best deal that you an get, and be able to go with that. My name is Scott Smith, I'm an Asset Protection Attorney at Austin, Texas. I'm a real estate investor, and I wanna help you.

Why Is a Registered Agent Required For My LLC?

The purpose of the registered agent is to receive legal correspondence. So for example, if someone wants to sue your LLC, they'll mail the notices to your agent and not your house.

A registered agent is your LLC's point of contact for all legal matters in the state which it does business. The agent is legally responsible for all of your LLC's tax and legal documents.

So, let's say you formed an LLC in Delaware and you live in Florida. You would be required to get someone (it can honestly be anyone) who is a legal resident of the state of Delaware to be your LLC's registered agent. However, there are some exceptions to this requirement.

A few states allow your LLC to be its own agent. And in most states, you won't have to get an agent as long as you have a physical address in that particular state. (Don't try to use a PO box!)

Also worth mentioning is that you can be your own agent.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?

Yes you can! But fair warning: If you decide to be your own registered agent, you will be legally responsible for all of your LLC's tax and legal documents. This may cause you to miss an important piece of mail while you're on vacation or sick, etc.

The advantage in having someone else be your agent is that it removes your legal liability. And in that sense, a registered agent is a form of asset protection. Hiring an agent should cost you between $40 and $75 per year online.

And don't worry, they're all the same no matter where you go. So you won't have to compare anything except price when you shop around for an agent.

What Happens if I Don't Get a Registered Agent?

If you don't get an agent, you may be subject to fines and kept from entering into legal contracts or the state court system in the particular state that your LLC was formed in. Some states will even file criminal charges against you.

If you have any questions about registered agents and LLCs, feel free to ask me in the comments below. In the meantime, learn more about LLCs and the all new Series LLC structure.

If you still have personal questions or want to learn more about Royal Legal Solutions' Registered Agent Service, contact us now.

The Different Kinds of LLCs & The Way They Pay Taxes

Surprise surprise, for every different kind of LLC, there are also different taxes. It's important for you to know the different taxes for each kind of LLC. You want to keep your friends at the IRS on your good side, don't you?
Let's go over the different types of LLCs, along with the taxes you have to pay for each particular LLC.

The Single-Member LLC

The single-member LLC is an LLC with only one member, as its name suggests. The single-member LLC will always have passthrough LLC tax treatment. This means that instead of having to pay the 39.1%  corporate tax, you can include the profits of your LLC on your personal income taxes.

A Married Couple LLC

A married couple LLC is an LLC whose only members are two people who are married to each other. A married couple LLC will usually have pass-through tax treatment. But this isn't the case if the LLC is formed in a community property state.

If your LLC is formed in a community property state, you will have to file a partnership tax return for your LLC. As of 2018, the following states have community property laws: Louisiana, Arizona, California, Texas, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

If you file a partnership return, you and your spouse will have to include your respective share of the profits on your income taxes.

Multi-Member LLC

If your LLC has two members that aren't married, then it's considered a multi-member LLC. A multi-member LLC receives pass-through tax treatment. Each member will claim his or her share of the LLC's profits on their respective personal tax returns.

The Series LLC

If you've read my blog before, you may already know a bit about the Series LLC. The Series LLC allows you to create as many "series" as you want. They operate directly under your original LLC, but are treated separately for liability purposes. When it comes to paying taxes with an LLC, things can get tricky.

For example, in California, each series in a Series LLC will have to pay an $800 franchise tax. But in Delaware, no matter how many series you have in your Series LLC, you'd only pay the $300 franchise tax one time.

Because the Series LLC is fairly new, most states allow you to choose the way it gets taxed. Although as new laws get passed, this may or may not change from state to state.

If you have any questions about the tax treatment of LLC's feel free to ask me in the comments below, I'd be glad to help you! In the meantime, check out our previous posts to learn more about pass through tax treatment.

What Does An LLC Cost? And Is It Worth It For Investors?

People ask us all the time: "Is an LLC's cost really worth it?" This one has a simple answer. Absolutely, and this article will show you exactly why.

Let's be honest here. The cost of an LLC isn't nothing. But I promise you, not setting up an LLC is more expensive in the long run.

Setting up an LLC might cost you around $1000 depending on how much you want done with it. I know $1000 may seem like a lot to pay at first. However, an LLC will pay dividends in the long run. Check out my video:

Setting Up And Properly Structuring LLCs: The True Cost

Setting up and properly structuring LLCs isn't cheap.  However, they pay dividends in the long run.

Asset holding company is where you have a lot of your money tied up. The question becomes, do I really need an operating company? Do I really need the shell corporation for me to do all of my business?

A shell corporation (operating company) allows you to have a face to the world. It limits your personal liability from all of the business dealings that you do. This means real dollars, because a lawsuit against you, even if they can't collect against the assets, will go against your credit score. And with a low credit score, you won't be able to obtain the financing you need to operate your business and acquire property.

We're talking about less than $1,000 to protect your credit score, it's pennies on the future dollars that a bad credit score will cost.

An LLC/Shell Corporation Is Cheaper Than A Lawsuit

If you plan on being in the real estate business for the long haul, (I'm talking 10, 20, 30 years), the cost of an LLC is completely worth it.

On the other hand, no one can afford a lawsuit. The details of a lawsuit are required to be listed in public databases by law. So besides severely damaging your credit score and crippling your business, your reputation will also be jeopardized.

Who's going to want to do business with someone who's been sued before? Think about that.

I hope the above information has helped you. If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them in the comments below. In addition to being an asset protection specialist, I'm also a real estate investor. I know how it feels to be in your shoes.

If you have questions about what the LLC can do for you, schedule your consultation now.

How To Protect Your Series LLC: Doing Your Part

The Series LLC is an excellent legal structure. Assuming you're doing your part, you don't have anything to worry about. If you don't know about the Series LLC, read this Series LLC Primer now. Then come back for the rest.

Everyone else, keep reading.

Protecting the series structure of an LLC is much like protecting multiple LLCs. Each series of a Series LLC is treated just like an individual LLC.

This is something you need to remember when you're running your LLC business. Let's imagine you hae a Series LLC with five different series underneath it. You have to treat each series as if they were five different LLC's.

Keep Adequate Records To Protect Your Series LLC

There's a few things you need to do to protect your series LLC.

One is you must track the money for each different series separately. You must keep those records as if the series are their own LLC.

You should also consider having separate bank accounts for each series. While this isn't a requirement, having separate bank accounts will make the accounting process so much easier.

What Happens If You Fail To Keep Adequate Records?

What happens is that all your series will be merged together by the court as if they were all one company. This completely defeats the purpose of the series.

It's not that your LLC will completely go away and then you end up with no protection. It's just now all of your money is in one pool. This cripples your asset protection strategy. Remember, the reason you have a Series LLC is to minimize the amount of money anybody can come after at any one time.

Let's say you find yourself in a lawsuit and the court decides to treat all the series you've made as one company. If all of your series get treated as one company you better believe the attorney for the other side is going to do everything in his or her power to win that lawsuit.

After all, the more assets you have for the taking, the more money an attorney can earn from suing you. Then let's say you actually lose the lawsuit. That's the equivalent of someone winning the power-ball, with the prize pool being all of your assets!

On the other hand, if your series hadn't all been merged together, the majority of your wealth and assets would have been untouched.

So remember: keep separate bank accounts, keep adequate records, and make sure you're doing your part!

If you have any questions about what we just went over don't hesitate to ask me in the comments! I'd be glad to help you by answering any questions you have below. If you want to discuss your unique situation, schedule your personal consultation today.

Is Your LLC Easy to Sue or Is it Litigation-Proof?

You've likely heard online from some keyboard warrior or a CPA or perhaps even from an attorney that an suing an LLC is easy. This is absolutely not true.

LLCs are incredibly hard to sue, if not litigation proof, if they are maintained correctly. The problem is that most LLC owners don't do the things necessary to maintain their LLC's legal status. If you don't treat your LLC like an LLC, then when a lawsuit comes around the courts won't either.

Let's go over what you need to do to keep your LLC litigation-proof during a lawsuit.

How To Keep Your LLC Litigation-Proof

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you must maintain records and accurate accounting of your company. If you don't have a company bank account, you need to get one ASAP. Here are two things you should ask yourself when it comes to your company bank account:

You need to run everything through a bank account for your company to make sure its seen as a legitimate and separate entity from yourself. Bonus: This will also make doing your taxes easier.

You cannot treat your company bank account as if it's your personal piggy bank. This means you have to be careful in the accounting for your company. If you ever take money out of your company account you must keep a record of it as a dividend from your company.

If you fail to do the above, your LLC's legal status will no longer apply. You will be easy to sue. Keep your records on point to keep your LLC protected.

Maintain Accurate Records And Suing Your LLC Will Be Harder

I recommend keeping an eye on your company bank account at all times. Even CPAs can make mistakes.

If you have any questions about what we just went over feel free to ask me in the comments section, I'd be glad to help you. If you've got this down, check out our other posts to learn more about preserving your wealth with an LLC structure.

If you're ready to form your LLC or improve your asset protection plan, we can help you. Schedule your personal consultation today. Our experts can assist with every aspect of company formation, management, and oversight. We're also happy to address your business banking and tax questions.

What's a 'Pass Through Entity' & How Does It Help Real Estate Investors?

A pass-through entity is a business structure, such as an LLC, series LLC, or S corporation. We use the term "pass-through" because you can claim the income of these types of businesses on your personal income tax returns instead of a separate business tax return. Watch the video below and I'll explain:

LLCs Can Function as Pass-Through Entities

The LLC, or Series LLC, has the easiest tax returns for a single member. As a pass-through entity, all of the income from your company can be recorded on your personal income tax return.

That means you won't be taxed twice and or have to pay thousands of dollars to a CPA to file a business tax return. Normally other business structures have to file a business tax return.

Do you and your spouse file joint income tax returns? That's no problem, the above would still apply. But there are some instances where you will have to file a separate return, despite using a pass-through entity. We'll discuss this, and some of the other basics you should know about pass-through entities, below.

The Partnership Return for Multi-Member LLCs

Some states require at least two members in an LLC. Let's say, for example, you and your partner have an LLC. You're going to file what's known as a partnership return. A partnership return is a separate return for the business itself.

Due to the complexity of a partnership return, you're most likely going to want somebody to help you prepare it. I suggest you hire a CPA who is also a real estate investor.

Also note that an LLC is able to be taxed as a corporation. In some instances it can make sense in terms for your operating company to have that LLC taxed as an S corporation. So keep that in mind.

Speaking of real estate LLCs...

Which Pass-Through Entity Is Best For A Real Estate Investor?

The series LLC offers unbeatable asset protection, easy tax filing and is the foundation of a solid asset protection plan.

Say you own 5 properties. Instead of holding all 5 properties in one LLC, with a series LLC you can create a "series" within your LLC. Each series will hold one property.

The benefit of this is if someone sues one of your series and wins, only that one property in that one series will be affected. The majority of your wealth and assets would be protected.

Another great benefit is, no matter how many "series" you have within your LLC, they can all be filed on the same income tax return. This is a huge cost saving benefit you can't get with a regular LLC.