The Power of Real Estate Trusts

Real estate investments have long been considered a valuable and lucrative asset class. However, along with the potential for financial gains, real estate investments can also attract attention and scrutiny from various parties. If you’re looking to maintain privacy and protect your real estate holdings, one effective solution is establishing a real estate trust. In this article, we’ll explore what a real estate trust is and how it can help you keep your investments private.

What is a Real Estate Trust?

A real estate trust, also known as a land trust or property trust, is a legal entity specifically designed to hold and manage real estate assets. It functions similarly to a traditional trust, where a trustee holds legal title to the property on behalf of the beneficiaries. However, unlike a typical trust, the primary purpose of a real estate trust is to maintain privacy and shield the property owner’s identity.

How Does a Real Estate Trust Work?

Establishing a real estate trust involves a few key steps:

  1. Set up the trust: Engage the services of a qualified attorney experienced in real estate law to help you set up the trust. They will guide you through the process and ensure all legal requirements are met.
  2. Select a trustee: Choose a trustee to hold the legal title of the property on behalf of the trust. This can be an individual, a company, or even yourself.
  3. Draft the trust agreement: Work with your attorney to draft a trust agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the trust, including the roles and responsibilities of the trustee and beneficiaries.
  4. Transfer the property: Transfer the ownership of the real estate property to the trust. This is typically done through a deed conveying the property from the current owner to the trustee of the trust.
  5. Maintain anonymity: One of the primary advantages of a real estate trust is the ability to maintain privacy. The trust agreement does not need to be recorded publicly, keeping the identities of the beneficiaries confidential.

Benefits of a Real Estate Trust for Privacy

  1. Anonymity: By holding real estate assets in a trust, the identity of the property owner remains private. This can be particularly beneficial for high-profile individuals, celebrities, or anyone who prefers to keep their real estate investments confidential.
  2. Estate planning: A real estate trust can also facilitate smooth estate planning. When the property is held in a trust, it avoids probate proceedings, which are generally public. This allows the transfer of assets to beneficiaries in a private and efficient manner.
  3. Asset protection: Trusts can offer a layer of protection against legal claims and creditors. By separating the property from personal ownership, it becomes more challenging for potential litigants to identify and target the property as an asset.
  4. Flexibility: Real estate trusts offer flexibility in managing and distributing assets. The trust agreement can be tailored to accommodate specific instructions for property management, income distribution, and even the sale or acquisition of additional properties.
  5. Succession planning: With a real estate trust, it becomes easier to plan for the future and ensure a smooth transition of property ownership. The trust agreement can outline instructions for the transfer of beneficial interests upon the death or incapacitation of the current property owner.

It’s important to note that while real estate trusts offer enhanced privacy and protection, they do not entirely eliminate the need for compliance with tax and reporting obligations. It’s essential to consult with a qualified tax professional to ensure full compliance with relevant laws and regulations.


Real estate investments can be lucrative, but they also attract attention. If maintaining privacy and protecting your real estate holdings are priorities, establishing a real estate trust can be an effective solution. By leveraging the unique features of a trust, such as anonymity, asset protection, and estate planning benefits, you can enjoy the financial gains of real estate while keeping your investments private. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the process of setting up a real estate trust and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

Video Transcript

Can a Real Estate Trust Hide the Owner of Property?

Yes, it can. Real estate trusts are regularly used by famous people. I have a number of clients who you might consider celebrities or famous people, and they don’t want people to know who owns their real estate.

For example, if they buy a cabin in Wisconsin on a lake, they may not want, in the public records, their name. For example, imagine if you saw Tom Cruise is the owner of a cabin and you know it is a beautiful cabin. You go, “Oh, wow. I bet that is the actor Tom Cruise.”

Usually, celebrities don’t want people to know who owns the property. They are looking for some privacy. They also don’t want to be sued personally for anything that happens on the property. Celebrities know that they are often a target for lawsuits. And so the last thing they want is their name on public records as being the owner of real estate. So what do they do? They set up a trust.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a special type of contract that is recognized by state statutes, and the contract essentially says this property is held in a kind of a fictional entity called a trust. So the trust gets a name, and it is being managed by a person that is the trustee and it is being managed for the benefit of a person. That one is called the beneficiary. By setting up a trust, you can just create essentially a legal entity to own real estate, and that trust generally does not have to be registered anywhere. Unlike an LLC or a corporation, where you register the business for it to be established under law, a trust is generally not registered. There are millions of trusts that the government doesn’t know about because it just exists on paper, and the only time it matters is if somebody dies associated with the trust or the trust decides to buy property that has a registered owner or registered title.

How Does It Work?

Let’s say that I am representing a celebrity, and the celebrity says, “Hey, I am tired of running into problems and people knowing where I live. I have had some stalkers, I have had some paparazzi. I really want some privacy. Is there a way to protect my privacy as it relates to my current home?” And what I would tell that celebrity is, “Unfortunately, your name is already in the real estate property records. It is already public information. That information is often online. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about the current real estate.”

But if you buy real estate in the future, there is something you can do. You can set up a real estate trust. By the way, this is really just a trust that owns real estate. It doesn’t necessarily need to be specific. There isn’t necessarily a category called real estate trust. There are trusts that have real estate in them. So we call them real estate trusts. So we could set up a trust for this celebrity, and then the trust can buy the next property. Maybe it is a cabin, maybe it is a home, and that we can give the trust a name that would not cause suspicion with the paparazzi. Then nobody will know who owns the property; it will just be the trust. They will see the trust name on there. That is it.

Now, often the name of the person managing the trust, the trustee, can get listed, and so you can hire somebody or a bank trust office to handle that for you as well. That way, you get a little even more privacy.

Will the IRS Know?

Yeah, the IRS needs to know who is associated with the trust, but that is confidential. If you have a mortgage on the property, will the bank or lender know? Yeah. The bank or lender needs to know who is personally guaranteeing the loan. Banks don’t lend money to trusts without a personal guarantee unless the trust happens to have a significant amount of assets, which typically then the bank will want used as collateral in order to grant a mortgage on the property.


So, let’s circle back. Can a real estate trust hide the owner of property? In other words, can you use a trust to keep confidential who the owner is of real estate? You absolutely can. And it is regularly done. If you are looking for that sort of privacy, a trust is a great way to purchase real estate.

All right. That does it for today. I would love to know if you find this helpful. And by the way, if you have other questions, feel free to add them in the comment section below. We will grab those and use those for future live sessions. You can also submit questions by email or using the form in the description below.

I am Aaron Hall, an attorney for business owners and entrepreneurial companies. This has been an educational broadcast. As always, all these issues I encourage you to use as topics to discuss with your attorney, not as a replacement for an attorney. This is educational information to empower you to avoid problems, establish a great company and hopefully have a better life You can find more about me at