By Randy Hughes

It is fascinating to me that real estate starts out as personal property (boxes of ceiling tile, carpet, lumber, etc.) and once it is assembled it becomes real estate. Then, when we place the property into a Land Trust, it again becomes personal property to the beneficiary of the trust. Why is this important? Real estate laws and personal property laws are different. As all of my students know by now, the beneficial interest in a land trust is personal property and there are significant advantages to this truth.

When a piece of real estate is held in a Land Trust and the beneficiary sells the beneficial interest this is a non-recorded transaction. It is completely private and off the radar screen of tax assessors, lenders, transfer tax revenuers and in some states (i.e. CA) sales tax withholding requirements. You even by-pass the Form 1099 requirement (you still must pay any taxes due eventually).

Once transferring property into a Land Trust, the Deed in Trust must include language that makes it clear that the beneficial interest in the trust is personal property. Likewise, the Land Trust Agreement should state that the beneficiary shall have no rights or interest in either the legal or equitable title to the property. The beneficiary’s sole interests are to the rights of management, control, operation and to the receipt of proceeds from rents, mortgage financing, sales and exchanges.

Most rental real estate investors make the beneficiary of their Land Trusts an LLC or corporation (for additional asset protection). When an entity holds a beneficial interest, it should make sure not to lose its legal standing in the state it was formed. Not keeping the LLC or corporate up-to-date (e.g, paying the annual franchise fees and state taxes), effectively causes the beneficiary to lose the rights to the beneficial interest. This is another good reason to designate Successor Beneficiaries even if your initial beneficiary is an entity.

After 46 years of investing in real estate and being a landlord, I can attest to the many benefits of using a trust to hold title instead your name personally. There are only risks and no rewards to owning real estate in your name. Crazy things happen in the real estate business and if you intend to succeed long term you must learn how to protect your hard-earned assets. The least expensive and easiest way to begin your asset protection plan is by using a trust to hold title. Be a smart investor, use a trust!

I encourage you to learn more by going to my FREE online training at:  or text “reasons” to 206-203-2005 for my free booklet, “Reasons to Use a Land Trust.” You can also reach me the old fashion way by calling me at 866-696-7347 (I actually answer my own phone unlike most other businesses in America).