Use of Land Trusts in Real Estate

Land trusts are an excellent tool in the investors arsenal, but the investor must be savvy enough to fully utilize the trusts benefits. Not only will the trust provide the investor the desired level of anonymity, but if used in conjunction with an LLC, it will afford the investor excellent asset protection. L- trusts are not-for-profit corporations designed to protect land from development, using conservation easements, gifts or purchases of land, limited development, conservation buyers, or promotion of existing local, state, or Federal easement programs. The Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) assists citizen groups in the formation and operation of local l- trusts by offering training, technical assistance, administrative grants and real estate acquisition loans, through membership in the Maryland Land Trust Alliance (MLTA) , an informal association of national, state, regional and local land conservation organizations working in Maryland. L-trusts are known to use emotion-laden sales pitches, misinformation and generalities to cover the warts and wrinkles of their product. They operate in a peculiarly self-centered fantasy world where tax subsidies, political whim and legislative skullduggery distort the law and economic reality.

Land trusts are also in place to protect farmland and ranchland. Despite the use of the term “trust,” many if not most l- trusts are not technically trusts, but rather non-profit organizations that hold simple title to land and/or other property and manage it in a manner consistent with their non-profit mission. Land trusts are revocable, and may be changed, modified, or terminated while the trustee is still alive. An uncooperative trustee may be removed. L- Trusts are often established when a property has multiple owners. In these cases, the individuals named in the trust agreement are assigned the power of direction.

Land trusts are not government agencies, which is lucky, because the Supreme Court has not been supporting agencies. Corps of Engineers recently refused the conversion of an inland seasonal wetland, habitat for migratory birds, into a solid waste dumpsite. L- trusts are often nonprofit conservation organizations and acquire land through donations. Though we are losing land at 3,000 acres per day , land trusts in the United States have been increasing at 23% a year . L- trusts are one of the most popular vehicles in which to take title to real estate. Ask any experienced real estate investor and he probably has used this vehicle or has heard of its benefits.

Land trusts are unique because the duties and powers of the trustee are limited, but they are still considered to be trusts and generally are governed by the principles that are applicable to all other trusts. In which control is accomplished by serving a Notice of Collateral Assignment on the land trustee and obtaining a written receipt from the land trustee). L- trusts are the fastest growing conservation movement today, with new land trusts forming at an average rate of more than one per week. America’s 1,500 plus land trusts protect millions of acres of farms, ranches, wetlands, wildlife habitat, urban parks, forests, watersheds, coastlines and river corridors. Land trusts are public, nonprofit organizations that work cooperatively with landowners and government agencies to conserve land that has natural, historic, productive, scenic, or recreational value. They protect land permanently by negotiating agreements with property owners who want to place limits on the future uses or development potential of their property.

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