Introduction: Welcome to the mentor podcast. Where the most highly motivated entrepreneurs come to get their weekly dose of financial stability with host Ron LeGrand, as well as other nationally recognized thought leaders. Who will teach you how to get, grow and protect your wealth?
Ron LeGrand: Well, hello everybody and welcome to another edition of The Mentor Podcast. Ron here. This podcast is designed to help you make more money and make it faster, and pay less taxes, and retire rich. And, also protect yourself along the way. And frankly, that’s what our guest today is talking about. That subject in the form of land trusts. His name is Randy. And he’s been around since…How long Randy?
Randy Hughes: 1969. So probably longer than most people were that have been alive that are listening to this. But not you Ron.
Ron LeGrand: Yeah not me because… I bought my first house in 1969.
Randy Hughes: You did?
Ron LeGrand: Yeah to live in.
Randy Hughes: Yeah, that’s a coincidence.
Ron LeGrand: Yeah. Alright, well, we’re going to talk about Land Trusts today. And that is a subject that I get endless questions on as I know you do as well. So, you are the expert today, and I’m going to put the load on you to take these questions off of me.
Randy Hughes: Okay.
Ron LeGrand: So, Randy, first of all, where do you come from? What’s your background? And how did you get to be such an expert on land trust?
Randy Hughes: Well, I live in Illinois. Started buying houses as an investment, bought my first rental house, a little two bedroom, 800-square-foot ranch, while I was in college, and pretty much that’s what I’ve done all my life, is the house business. I have been in apartments and commercial buildings but find that single family houses fit my personality the best and so that’s kind of why I’ve stuck with it all these years. And I probably had 10 or 15 houses in my name personally.
Before I woke up to the realization that was pretty dumb, that anybody could look up at the public records what I owned, you know, what the assessment was, what the original debt was that I put on the property and basically approximate my net worth, which makes me and anybody else that does that, a big, big target for a lawsuit. Unfortunately, the general public’s opinion of all real estate investors is that we’re all rich. And that makes us an extra big target for frivolous lawsuits. And I’m not talking about you know, avoiding your responsibilities in life. I’m talking about avoiding frivolous lawsuits. And if we have time today, Ron, I’ll give you a few examples…Two stories of things have happened to me and have happened to my students over the years that will drive that point home.
Ron LeGrand: So, your first point is total privacy, so that the predators don’t know what you have. So, they don’t want to get excited about coming after what you have, especially knowing that if you have real estate on public record, in your own name, you’re an easy target.
Randy Hughes: Exactly.
Ron LeGrand: And I call it you have a target on your chest waiting for the arrow to arrive. So how long have you been using land trust?
Randy Hughes: Randy: Oh, about 40 years now? Yeah, I’ve been a landlord for 47 years. And like I said, it was a few years into buying real estate before I realized that I should not be putting my name on these titles. Until about four years into it, I’ve been using the trusts and find that they solve a lot of problems and make your life much, much easier in this real estate investment world. And I just wouldn’t own real estate. If you made me put my name on the deed, I’d say, “Ron, keep your real estate. I don’t want it.”
Ron LeGrand: Me too, brother, me too. I will not sign the docs until they get the name right on it. And what they always want to do is you buy in a…I use LLC for my trustees… and they always want to leave the words, “as trustee,” off. And that’s the very first thing I have to correct…I’m doing a closing as we sit here. And first thing I look for as they add the words “LLC as trustee” in there, because if they didn’t, then that means that LLC owns it instead of just being the trustee of it. Well, you got a lot of reasons. And by the way, listeners, Randy is going to give away a free report with probably 50 different reasons why you should be using land trusts. So just stay tuned and we’ll get to the link.
Randy Hughes: Right.
Ron LeGrand: Well, let’s go over some of these benefits. You’re sure not going to go over 50 of them. But, go over the ones that are the biggest and most relevant.
Randy Hughes: Okay. Well, first off, but just from an estate planning standpoint, these trusts are wonderful to make you avoid probate after you die; which is a really smart thing to do. Because if you own real estate right now in your name and you died tonight, your heirs are not going to get their hands on that real estate for three months, six months, maybe a year depending on how long probate is in your state, in your county. And they may need immediate control of the property to be able to marry if nothing else. So, the fact that a trust will allow the transference of control of the property immediately upon your death, to me is an extremely good benefit.
Ron LeGrand: We don’t have enough…We gotta get through them because we don’t have much time so we cannot dwell on anyone.
Randy Hughes: All right!
Ron LeGrand: What’s another one?
Randy Hughes: Okay. I like to fact that these trusts will allow you to make more money doing the same real estate deals that you’re doing now. For example, if you hold the property in the trust, you can sell the beneficial interest in the trust, that are the real estate itself. And,
consequently, you can avoid the due on sale clause, transfer taxes, sales tax. Now, you don’t avoid sales tax totally. But those folks in California, for example, they get the fun of paying 3.3% sales tax on the gross amount of a real estate transaction. And that’s what held right at closing. And I’m not saying you’re never going to pay that, but I’d rather pay it when the tax is due as opposed to right now out of my closing proceeds.
Ron LeGrand: So please clarify that now. Because when we’re…When you assign your interest to a trust, to somebody else. You’re not selling real estate. You’re selling a personal property, which is your interest to have trust. That’s how you avoid the transfer tax.
Randy Hughes: When you put your real estate into a trust, and you own the beneficial interest, as Ron just said, Yeah, you own personal property from a legal standpoint, from back standpoint, you still own real estate, the IRS says, hey, these grand tour with local trust, we don’t even want to know anything about them. Just report the tax benefits at the beneficiary level. So, you still get the same tax benefits, whether your using a trust or not. And then you get all the benefit of using the trust in addition to those tax benefits,
Ron LeGrand: Folks! You just said two words you need to write down Grand Tour revocable. We use Land Trust, it’s a grand tour revocable trust. Your attorney may understand what you’re talking about. If you use those two words. We’re coming back to this attorney thing. All right. I mentioned privacy because the beneficial interest is nowhere on public record. Only the trustees name. What else?
Randy Hughes: Well, back that up, there’s no registry for a trust. There are registries for corporations, and LLC I can look up against…
Ron LeGrand: Nobody can look up
Randy Hughes: Unless reformed in Wyoming. To my knowledge, that’s the only state that does not publish the owners of LLC, but in every other state. I can look up who owns it. So, putting your property in an LLC gives you no privacy of ownership. The other point is I know, most attorneys are telling their clients to put the real estate in an LLC.
Think about that, just for a minute. I mean, if you have 10, let’s say, single family rental houses and you dump them all into one LLC, and then you have a loss, a claim, a liability or the lawsuit on one property, and they sue and they win, they’re going to get a judgment against the owner. Who’s the owner? The LLC, so you just gave them 10 properties instead of one. So, you know, grandma, grandpa taught us all you don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and you don’t put all your real estate in one entity. So, I teach my students to put each property into a separate trust. So, each one is insulated from the other. And then those trust could all be owned by a single LLC. That’s the beneficiary level.
Ron LeGrand: Yes. So, while we’re on that subject. Many attorneys will tell you to put one property in one LLC, and even in states where they use series, LLC. Which means that all of the property… LLC is an owner property…You don’t have to buy a file a tax return because they’re all owned by one mother, LLC, or parent or entity. The problem is you still got to pay the annual fee every year just to keep the LLC is alive. And there is no annual fee with Land Trust and there is no EIN, there is no tax number, there is no tax return. There’s no bank account. And I argue this with real attorneys. Every time I get in front of one, we have this discussion. But by the way, I don’t think I’ve ever won the argument. I don’t think I’ve ever changed any of the mind. So good luck trying to do that.
Randy Hughes: Well, you know, that’s kind of a good news, bad news situation too Ron.
Ron LeGrand: Yeah.
Randy Hughes: They don’t teach Land Trust law to law students, while they’re in college and they only learn it if they take upon themselves after college, after law school to learn this. So consequently, 99% of the lawyers in America don’t know or understand Land Trust
Ron LeGrand: And they will give you a crappy advice.
Randy Hughes: That’s the bad news. It’s hard to find somebody that can give you good, accurate advice. The good news is, once you learn how to do this and create your own land trust, and you can certainly do it on your own, you don’t have to have an attorney do it for you. But once you learn how to do it, then you’re operating at a level that 99% of lawyers in the country don’t understand. And I think that’s a good thing.
Ron LeGrand: You know, what I think sometimes, Randy, is that they advise people not to use the land trust, because they think that we think or our students think that there is some kind of an asset protection device that nobody can penetrate. And we need to make that clear here. If a lawyer comes after you, and they get a judgment, and they find out your own beneficial interest in the Land Trust, they can get it just as they could get it if it was any other entity. But the key is to make sure that they can’t get it by understanding how to properly own those Land Trust, which frankly, could be a whole other half a day seminar. So, let’s be clear. A Land Trust you get privacy. But as far as asset protection goes, the only thing that it will provide you is privacy so that they don’t even know what your assets are. So…
Randy Hughes: And here’s the point on that. Give you a real-life personal example of how the first step in asset protection for us real estate investors is privacy of ownership. Because if we’re not perceived to be good people to sue, then we’re less likely to get sued. Give you a good example.
In the year 2000, I sold a house that my wife and I and two daughters lived in. Six months after closing, I got a letter from the buyers’ attorney saying that the buyer had to spend a bunch of money replacing an air conditioner and the toilets in the house and some other BS. And if I just send them a check for $8,000, they wouldn’t sue me. What the heck is? Who’s responsible for maintenance after you sell a house? That’s crazy.
That is a frivolous lawsuit. So, I sent the lawyer a letter back and said that unless you’re mistaking me for the owner. Did you see my name on the deed? Did you see it on the termite report? The HUD one, did you see my name on anything? And he wrote back and said, No, I didn’t. And if you tell us who the owner was, we won’t sue you. So, I sent him another letter back and I said…Well, I think it was owned by some kind of a trust. They sound pretty complicated to me. I don’t really understand how they work. But good luck. And I never got a response.
Ron LeGrand: I love it. Don’t you just love it?
Randy Hughes: Yeah, I mean, you know, they just realized that we were going to have to work for this, this scam that they’re doing, and they didn’t want to work hard. So, they went off and sued somebody who own real estate in their name, instead of trying to find out who own that trust.
Ron LeGrand: That is correct. Now, we missed one big advantage that I like about Land Trust and that is…It will avoid lien attachment. In other words, if somebody gets a judgment against me and I own a house in my name that judgement is going to be attached to that house as soon as it’s recorded.
Randy Hughes: That’s right.
Ron LeGrand: However, a judgment against me will not attach to an asset I do not own, and listeners be clear, you do not own the house. The trust owns the house, you own the trust. So even an IRS tax lien won’t attach to a property that you do not own. Please don’t take that to mean that the IRS can’t come get your stuff, because they can. That’s one gorilla I do not want to dance with but anyway liens aren’t going to automatically attach.
Randy Hughes: Well, let me interject something there because you brought up a great point. Not only is it important not to put your name on a deed, but it’s especially important that you don’t want to deed with somebody else. Because here’s what could happen to you. 35 years ago, I bought a shopping center with a friend of mine here in town. I insisted on putting the title of the property in the trust.
In year 2000 he moved out of my town in Illinois to Florida and became a very successful real estate developer, made millions of dollars. Until guess when? Right 2008.
Ron LeGrand: 2008 yeah.
Randy Hughes: When the collapse happened. He started losing millions of dollars. The last time I talked to him, he said he had $22 million of liens against him. About three years ago, I’m reading the reports in my town on liens and judgments filed against people in my town and whose name do I see, my friend. He still lives in Florida. He hasn’t lived in Illinois in 15 years. But a bank in Florida is filing a lien in Illinois trying to find assets in his name. They…$3.2 million lien was filed in my county. If I had not insisted on putting that title of that real estate in a trust and he and I had gone on the deed together. I would have just been wiped out. That 35 years of investment, work and cash flow and appreciation, all gone because of something he did.
Ron LeGrand: So simple.
Randy Hughes: Don’t ever, ever, ever go on a deed with somebody.
Ron LeGrand: Okay, so I know you get…Well first let me knock out one. Yeah, I hear constantly, my attorney said there’s no statute concerning this trust, so it won’t work here.
Randy Hughes: All right, let’s address that. They’re…Most states don’t have an interest statute. There are only six or seven that really have an actual statute. And I personally think it’s a good idea to set your trust up in a state that has a statute, no matter where you live, no matter where the property is. But you don’t necessarily have to follow that advice. You know, if you’re in California, for example, they don’t have a statute to specific Land Trust statue, but they’re legal to use in California and they’re legally used in all the states. It’s just that I think some states have better laws than others. And that’s why I want to form my trust in a state that has the best law in my opinion, but they’re all legal at all. And if an attorney tells you it’s not legal, then find another attorney because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Ron LeGrand: Well, that is correct. And he tells you land trust don’t work here… If, I also find another attorney, or use the words grand tour revocable and maybe he will get it. And by the way you live in the state at first date when they started using these things in the United States, Illinois.
Randy Hughes: That’s right.
Ron LeGrand: It used to be used to be called the Illinois Land Trust. You happen to know how far back these things go. When they first started.
Randy Hughes: The very first Land Trust in America was formed by Chicago title in a suburb of Chicago that was being developed by the hundred 20. 15, 20 years ago. So, Chicago title is the mother lode of land trust. They actually… They have a title, trust department. Chicago title does but the only be trustee in two states. And that’s Illinois and I think Indiana, but they managed over 65,000 Land Trust. So, they’re the big gorilla. But it’s…The reason why I mentioned that is it exemplifies the fact that these are legal. They’re used all over the United States. I get people saying, well, gosh, is my trustee going to steal my property? Well, no, that’s not going to happen. If it happened, if it was that easy, these trucks wouldn’t have been around as long as they have. And they’ve actually been around for a couple thousand years in England, where we got our laws as cheated over to the United States.
Ron LeGrand: They actually go back to the Roman Empire.
Randy Hughes: Yeah, they go way back.
Ron LeGrand: Yeah. So, there are many states that do not have statues. But that does not mean that they don’t work just because there’s no statue on it. And if in fact, it had to be a statue that says they don’t work for them not to work. So, Randy, I get this question all the time. Well, how do I form a trust?
Randy Hughes: Well, all you really need is a training and you know, the knowledge and the forms and you can form of trust. And as I mentioned earlier, there’s each state has their own laws. There’s no federal land trust law. That’s all state by state.
So, what really confuses the lawyers is when I tell them that I could form a Florida Land Trust, to hold title of my property and Illinois. And most of them say well you can’t do that, because that’s their natural response to pretty much anything they don’t understand. But, can and I’ve done it for 35-40 years.
Ron LeGrand: Have you ever been challenged on it?
Randy Hughes: Not all the way in court. But that’s the whole idea, is to, you know, put together a structure that people don’t want to challenge but I’m sure that the other folks have been challenged. Have you?
Ron LeGrand: Nope.
Randy Hughes: That it works.
Ron LeGrand: Since 1982. And there’s never been any challenge, but I can tell you, there’s been a whole lot of challenges trying to get people to understand what the heck I’m doing. I gotta…You gotta…By the way, that’s point. Don’t try to train the people that you’re working with on what addressed it. Just tell them what you want them to do. They’re supposed to do what you tell them to do. I use a warranty deed to trustee. I put it in my attorneys’ hands and if they know like, and he can fix it but that’s the deed that puts the property into the trust and actually establishes the trust. And then the only other document really is the trust agreement which sits at home in your filing cabinet. So, it’s really a big deal to form a trust. The minute the deed is recorded, the trust is reformed, is formed. So, do you have any other documents that’s part of this other than the agreement and the deed? If you’d like…
Randy Hughes: No, not to create the trust. My other forms are just you know administrative forms. Like if you want to change the beneficiary, you want to fire the trustee, you want to hire a director. I’ve got administrative forms, but you’re right. All you need to do to form that trust is have a deed and the trust agreement. Now, you know, oftentimes we get people say… Well, I can get a trust agreement the internet and that’s true you can you can get a one or two pager and you get what you pay for. I think the trust agreement is the heart of the trust and everything that’s going on here. I just finished my 6.0 version of my trust agreement. That’s 40 pages. And I wanted to have peat and I wanted to have substance in case that ever does get challenged; It’s not going to be a two-page pushover.
Ron LeGrand: Right? Okay, so. Gosh, I had a really important question right on the tip of my tongue.
Randy Hughes: I can talk all day about, about reasons to use least trust. And I think it is important to tell people that especially real estate investors that they can create these trusts themselves.
Ron LeGrand: Yes.
Ron LeGrand: By the way, can the lender call alone do if I put my house in a trust?
Randy Hughes: Well, I guess the first answer to that question is, are we talking about a personal residence or an investment property? If it’s a personal residence, no, they can’t call it do. Every American has the right to put the property into a trust and not trigger the due on sale clause. And that was due to the law passed way back in the 80s. called the Garn-St. Germain Act.
Now, if it’s a commercial property, technically, they might have the right to, to call the loan due if they find out and I tell my students, you got two decisions. One is you can tell them and two is you don’t. Now I don’t deal with big national banks like Bank of America and Chase and all those guys and they got rules I don’t like. I deal with regional hometown banks. And my experience has been, I’ve just gone to those banks and said, Hey, I’m doing some estate planning for my family. You mind if I put the property and trust and everyone said, No, go ahead and do it. That’s fine with us. And let’s put that in writing to me. That it was okay to do that. But if you’ve got a loan, that’s a conventional loan that was sold in the secondary market, technically, if they found out that you transferred into a trust, they could call a loan due but my experiences is 99.9% of time, they either don’t find out about it or don’t do anything about it. And don’t call the loan due. It’s not really been a big problem for me and my students.
Ron LeGrand: Well, first of all, banking won’t call unless due anyway. If somebody’s making payments, but actually, I think you do have the right…In fact, I’m almost positive you have the right to put your rental properties into a trust and they cannot call it due because it is part of your estate, and Garn-St. Germain prohibits them from doing so and they know it and they’re not going…I’ve seen many letters. students go home and he asked the bank; bank sends it back and letters and yeah, and they sign Garn-Saint Germain. But as far as commercial properties go, I would buy those as an LLC, one property one LLC, because (A) if I were to ever go get a loan on property, the loan would be to the LLC. And not to me personally, even though you may have to personally guarantee it. Right, the LLC I mean, that’s a business that requires a tax return and requires an annual reporting and all of that stuff so and if that’s the case, LLC are for easy for people to understand and operate in our society. So, I would…I use LLC for every commercial property that I’ve ever had one LLC one property.
But you know, it’s your choice. But in fact, I’m taking title to a piece of land in a couple of days, I will be taking title to it, and then Land Trust, but there’s no income producing asset there, so I wouldn’t use an LLC.
Randy Hughes: All right. Let’s clarify Ron. Because a lot of people think that only land will go into a Land Trust because of that word, land is kind of a misnomer. So, I want the listeners to understand you can put any kind of real estate in a land trust. Whether it’s commercial, residential, arrow rights, mineral rights, contracts, options.
It’s funny, I had a guy call me last year and he said, I want to get your home study course and learn how to create land trust. And I said, Great, what are you going to do with it? So, I’m down here in Kentucky, I’ve got 1500 oil and gas leases. And I don’t want to put them all in one entity, because some go boom and some go bust. So, he got my home study course and created 1500 Land Trust. So, each one was separate from the other. And, you know, certainly couldn’t afford to hire somebody to do that. So, he did it all on his own. But the point is, you can put any kind of real estate into a land trust.
Ron LeGrand: All right, I got a question for you. I got the hell and trust and of course, I’m the beneficiary or whoever I choose. What’s stopping me if I wanted to sell that property with owner financing to sell the beneficial interest and just create a non-real estate agreement to pay that back, which means I could actually take it back a lot faster. If I if it’s personal property, then I could always real property because it does come under real estate rules. You understand what I just said?
Randy Hughes: I do. That’s one of the techniques I teach my students and I’ve used it many times myself. Basically, what we’re saying is that, it’s kind of like buying a car. If you buy a car and finance it at the bank, the bank’s going to keep the title of that car until you make the very last payment. And if you don’t make the very last payment, they’re going to come repossess the car. And that’s a personal property interested in that car. And that’s what you just mentioned, Ron is when you sell the beneficial interest in a land trust on an installment contract, you’re selling personal property from a legal standpoint and so if the buyer defaults, we repossess we do not foreclose and I hope your listeners are catching that because that concept by itself that you just brought up Ron, was worth listening to this entire call.
It’s a great way to make money in this business as you be the bank, you buy low, you buy these houses low, you sell them high to people who can’t qualify for a loan, and they’re all bunch of really good people in America that can’t qualify for a conventional loan. And so, you be the bank and you sell it to them on a contract at full retail,
7 or 8% on the contracts. You’re making great return on your equity. It’s just all around a great way to make money. But the big risk there is what the banks have and that is what happens if the buyer stops making payments. And in this example, the buyer stops making payments we can get him out in about 30 days, as opposed to six months to years, how long it takes and Illinois anyway to do a foreclosure
Ron LeGrand: That will depend on what state you’re in.
Randy Hughes: Right.
Ron LeGrand: And you would most certainly have to have a lawyer tell you what would be involved in taking that personal property back and a special document for your state to do it. So, you wouldn’t be an idiot to try to do this without a lawyer. Plus, the lawyer needs to be in front of the buyer to explain everything to them. So, they can’t come back and say I didn’t understand that I really didn’t own the property. I only own the trust. But we also avoid closing costs other than that lawyer fee.
Randy Hughes: Exactly. These closings I have Ron I do at my lawyer’s office in his big fancy conference room. And so, I’ve got everybody’s testimony that yes, the contract was explained, and my attorney explained it to them if they don’t have an attorney there to explain it to them. My attorney explains it to them. It’s all official, everything’s notarized. He…My attorney services escrow agent that holds the documents in case something happens to me because I can still come and get the beneficial interest once they pay the note off. And it’s all done officially. So, everybody understands this is a route This is an actual closing of the purchase.
Ron LeGrand: Right and they… You’d probably still keep the insurance, your policy on there as a non-owner-occupied policy, wouldn’t you?
Randy Hughes: Well, actually I require them to buy homeowners insurance. And I’m…Got my trustee listed as an additional insured so we’re notified if they don’t make payments. But I want, I don’t want just renter’s insurance. I want full homeowners’ coverage on there. And we’re… Know the name insured and we are additional insured.
Ron LeGrand: But they don’t own it. So, how’s the insurance company going to issue them a homeowner’s policy?
Randy Hughes: Well, because by contract and they are buying it from a tax standpoint. Back to that bifurcation of what’s going on here, we’re from a tax standpoint, they own it, but from a legal standpoint, they don’t. So far, I haven’t had any problem with insurance companies, giving them a full homeowner’s policy.
Ron LeGrand: Well that’s probably because the insurance companies don’t have a clue what you just did, Randy.
Randy Hughes: Well it could be but as long as… I wouldn’t worry about that one.
Randy Hughes: They’re on the hook.
Ron LeGrand: Alright, so anyway, is there any last advice you could give our listeners because we’re already a little bit over time we still got to give away your free thing yet.
Randy Hughes: Yeah, well I just say get the free thing because it’s got a lot more reasons and if you got any questions you know, my email is in the booklet. I don’t know if you want me to give out a phone number or website or anything around.
Ron LeGrand: We’re going to give out the website right now. It’s called thementorpodcast.com, thementorpodcast.com/landtrust. That simple. There you’ll find his free thing and a bunch of our free things and my free book and a video and in fact you’ll find a whole lot of stuff that’s been posted and a whole lot of past podcast has been posted. So just go there. And while you’re there, make sure you sign up as a as a subscriber now, so you get notified of these things. They’re played every Wednesday. So, there’s plenty of stuff there for you to go to.
It’s going to tell you when you get Randy’s free report, you’re going to get information about his land trust course, because it’s the best that I’ve ever seen. I’m sitting here looking at this. It right in front of me. And I’ve been doing Land Trust for, I don’t know, 37 years and I learned some things in there that I didn’t know all of these years. So, and it’s an inexpensive. So, thank you, sir, for taking the time to spend with us today.
On a subject that there needs to be a lot more education out there on then there is, but I guess it’s up to you and me.
Randy LeGrand: Yeah, that’s our job Ron. Well, thank you much for the opportunity. I hope everybody got some great ideas out of this conversation and I’ll just leave it at this. Don’t own real estate in your name, please.
Ron LeGrand: And I’ll leave it at this. don’t own anything in your name [pause]. That’s just the beginning. There are other types of trust too, but that’s enough for today. Alright guys, thanks for tuning in. Appreciate your coming and thank you, Mr. Hughes.
Closing: That’s all for this edition of the mentor podcast to connect with Ron and learn how you can attain financial freedom as well as up to date strategies to grow and protect your wealth based on today’s discussion, go to http://www.ConnectWithaMentor.com.