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Should You Put Your Name On The Title?

11-28-2011

Disclosure: I'm not a real estate lawyer or CPA so you will need to consult with someone qualified in the matter but this article provides tremendous general value.

Have you ever heard of someone getting sued? Silly question huh. If you were to get sued and they come after everything you own how hard will it be for them to find investments you have that are in your own name? Easy right, anyone can go down to the county courthouse and look up the owner of any property and see how much their mortgage is and how much their home is worth and find out who would be an easy target. It's especially more important now that everything is automated with the Internet and information is at a criminal's disposal.

If someone wants to sue you and hires a lawyer based upon a contingency-fee agreement (meaning they only get paid if they collect) that lawyer will have a tough time finding real interest of a property if it's not in your name and they probably will not take the case if they cannot find any assets. They are looking to make money just like any profession you may avoid a potential lawsuit if you take the real estate out of your name.

Another reason to avoid holding title in your name is in case a judgement is ever filed against you. The county can attach liens to your other owned real estate making it very difficult to sell because title companies will not guarantee clean title with a lien and you are stuck until its paid off or removed.

What about putting the title of the real estate in a corporation or LLC?

Yes this will protect your name but not the property. Also the directors and officers of any corporation is a public record. A judgement against your corporation will also create a lien on any property owned by the corporation.

Many real estate investors will use what's called a land trust to hold title to their properties. A land trust is a revocable, living trust used to title ownership of real estate. The trustee is the name on the title and they are forbidden from revealing beneficiary. The beneficial owner can be a person, entity or company. If the trust is set up correctly it will hide your name from any public records and nobody will know who owns the property except you, your lawyer and the trustee.

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