The Florida Land Trust is an amazing device which offers numerous benefits to property owners. The two reasons it is not used by every investor are that few know much about it and those who know about it do not know where to obtain trust services at a reasonable cost.
Trusts in general go back many hundreds of years and today they offer even more benefits than they did when they were invented. The Florida land trust is a statutory form of the “Illinois-type” land trust which has been used for over a hundred years.
The most important benefits of the land trust are privacy and avoidance of probate. With a land trust, no one needs to know what real estate you own either during your life, nor at your death, and by avoiding probate you avoid thousands of dollars in attorney fees and months delay in distribution of your property to your heirs.
By using a land trust with Land Trust Service Corporation as trustee, there will be no public record of your ownership of the real estate in the trust. The public records will list the corporation as trustee, and the tax bill will be sent to the trustee (who will forward it to you for payment). The property will be managed by you or by your agent. Income tax returns will be filed by you in the same way they would for property in your own name.
Over thirty other benefits of using a land trust are listed in the book, Land Trusts in Florida, which you should read if you are planning to use a land trust. Some of the most popular benefits are, keeping the sales price secret, keeping liens and judgments off the property, avoiding a spouse's forced share, and avoiding litigation. When we started business there we only about 20 benefits, but we have discovered new benefits nearly every year.
The beneficiary of your trust can be you individually (or with a spouse or partner), a corporation, a limited liability company, a partnership or any other legal entity. If you are the beneficiary individually, you can name any other person or entity to immediately become successor beneficiary upon your death. If your company is the beneficiary, you can name a successor in your company papers.
Besides a beneficiary, you can have a director. For example, you can set up a trust in which your children (of legal age) are the beneficiaries (paying the taxes on the income), but you are the director. As director you would make all the decisions regarding the property. If you loan someone money you can have them put their property in a land trust and make you the director. Then you could control the property until you were paid in full.