Boasting a dynamic economy and a low-tax profile for entrepreneurs, the Sunshine State is still one of the hottest real estate markets in America. Typically, investors who hold multiple properties tend to utilize strategic ways to protect their assets, such as opting to title property in between land trust vs LLC asset protection in Florida.
Even though both ways are effective to hold and protect real property in Florida, it is crucial to know each option before making a decision. In this article, you will discover the difference between land trust vs LLC asset protection in Florida.
LLCs and Asset Protection in Florida – Understanding the Concept
Typically, the limited liability company (LLC) structure is the favorite business structure among entrepreneurs. An LLC can protect the personal assets of its owner(s) if someone sues the business and protect the company’s assets when someone sues an individual member.
LLCs offer the much-needed flexibility real estate investors need to operate in their market. However, investors need to ensure that an LLC is properly structured before transferring the title of any property to the company.
Even though it is not obligatory, it is crucial to prepare an operating agreement when setting up an LLC. An operating agreement is a legal document that describes all the operations of the LLC and displays the agreements made between the company’s owners.
While planning to set up an LLC for estate planning purposes (e.g., holding real property investments), it is necessary to decide whether to establish a single-member LLC or to establish a multi-member LLC with other business partners.
In Florida, multi-member LLCs tend to offer more solid asset protection than single-member LLCs, so seek guidance from an expert attorney to help you make your decision.
Also, transferring the title of a property to an LLC can be a feasible manner to avoid probate in Florida. It can be done either by placing the ownership of membership interest in a living trust or by including a transfer-upon-death provision in the LLC Operating Agreement.
LLC in Florida – Maintenance Costs
Typically, there are fees involved in the process of setting up an LLC in Florida. Plus, the state requires a renewal fee that must be paid annually.
The property owners will also have to deal with an annual state maintenance fee, which is directly associated with specific formalities.
Land Trust Vs LLC Asset Protection in Florida – Understanding the Concept
On the other hand, land trusts offer another an alternative for real estate investors who need an extra layer of asset protection.
Inherently versatile by nature, a trust is a legal relationship in which a trustor (or settlor) transfers property to a second party (trustee) to benefit a third party (beneficiary). In essence, setting up a land trust is holding real property by contract.
During the process, the trustor will create the land trust document, a legal contract in which the trustee is appointed by the trust. The trustee will be responsible for holding the land on behalf of the trustor and its beneficiaries for the period provided in the trust.
Land trusts also provide a way to circumvent probate upon the trustor’s death.
Even though the process of setting up a trust can be significantly cheaper than establishing a Florida LLC, trustees often charge annual fees.
The key advantage of a land trust is ownership privacy. While an LLC must be filed with the State and requires a significant amount of fees in the process, setting up a land trust does not require filing with the States.
Generally, public records for real property held by land trusts are afforded more privacy as only the land trust name appears on the deed.
Another great advantage is that homestead property can be held in a Florida land trust. For those unaware, state law affords asset protection of the full value of a property that satisfies certain requirements and is used as a primary residence in Florida.
While the materialization of such possibility may vary from county to county, Florida land trusts are still a way to add another layer of protection over homestead ownership.
We Can Help You Protect Your Assets in Florida
Asset protection in Florida is a broad subject, which means it is almost impossible to cover all the details involved within an article. In this sense, we strongly recommend you seek professional guidance from a real estate attorney.