By Randy Hughes
Oftentimes I am asked, “Which state should I form my land trust in?” As a continuation of the subject discusses in my last newsletter, you now understand that you do not have to form your land trust in the same state where you live or where the property is located. In fact, there are many benefits to using an “out-of-state” trust to hold title to your investment property. I have covered these benefits in previous newsletters. This newsletter will concentrate on Florida Land Trust Law. In future issues I will explain other major state land trust statutes.
The Florida Land Trust Act, 689.071 covers real and personal property. “Beneficial Interest” means any interest, vested or contingent and regardless of how small or minimal such interest may be, in a land trust which is held by a beneficiary. “Beneficiary” means any person or entity having a beneficial interest in a land trust. A trustee MAY BE a beneficiary of the land trust for which such trustee serves as trustee.
I have talked before about Florida being the only state that I am aware of that will allow the trustee to also be the sole beneficiary (because of the Merging of Interests Doctrine). Other states allow for the trustee to be one of multiple beneficiaries, but not the trustee if she/he is the ONLY beneficiary. Personally, I would NEVER make the trustee and beneficiary one-in-the-same because it defeats the purpose of anonymity of ownership by exposing the beneficiary to public scrutiny.
Personal Property. The Florida Statute goes on to say, “In all cases in which the recorded instrument or the trust agreement, as hereinabove provided, contains a provision defining and declaring the interests of beneficiaries of a land trust to be personal property only, such provision is controlling for all purposes when such determination becomes an issue under the laws or in the courts of this state. IF NO SUCH PERSONAL PROPERTY DESIGNATION APPEARS IN THE RECORDED INSTRUMENT OR IN THE TRUST AGREEMENT, (emphasis added) the interests of the land trust beneficiaries are REAL PROPERTY (emphasis added).
This section of the Florida Statue stresses the fact the if you do not state either in the Deed to Trustee OR the Trust Agreement that the Beneficial Interest is “personal property,” it will be deemed as “real property.” Which is exactly what you do NOT want. I think to make it unmistakably clear, you should put in BOTH the Deed to Trustee AND the Trust Agreement that the Beneficial Interest is personal property!
Land Trust laws are not changed very often for any State, but three years ago Florida amended their Land Trust Statute which effectively made it not possible to sue the Trustee or Beneficiary of a Land Trust. This was a powerful change that made Florida’s Land Trusts even more popular to use. You might consider using a Florida land trust.
I encourage you to learn more by going to my FREE online training at: www.landtrustwebinar.com/411 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).