Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

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Cruise
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Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Cruise » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:11 pm

My wife and I are creating a family trust. One of our concerns is to purchase a new residential property in such a fashion that a public records search of the property would not reveal our identities. There is a security concern involved.

I spoke with a friend who is a private detective, and he suggested that in addition to a trust name that is not our name (e.g., XYZ Trust), that a corporate entity be established that is named in the trust and becomes a registered agent. The only function of the registered agent is to accept legal document in the name of the trust and forward these documents to us.

Our PI friend suggested that the CT Corporation System or Corporate Company is used for this purpose and has offices around the county.

Does anyone have any experience in handling matters like this, and could provide some guidance?

Many thanks.

riverguy
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by riverguy » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:21 pm

You are likely going to have to name the trustee of the trust in any conveyance documents. Typically property is conveyed to the Trustee on behalf of the Trust. If you convey directly to the trust, you typically would have to record a memorandum of trust that states who the trustees are.

Sounds like you possibly need a third party trustee.

Ping Pong
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Ping Pong » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:38 pm

If the name of the owner of a trust isn’t in the public record, you can never be 100% sure you are the owner.

Topic Author
Cruise
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Cruise » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:00 pm

Thanks riverguy and Ping Pong!

J295
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by J295 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:11 pm

Check with your lawyer who is setting up the trust, that is assuming you are using a lawyer.

In my former law firm, I know that sometimes one of the estate planning lawyers who worked for some of our celebrity type clients who didn’t want their home address known had a process for dealing with this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t know the nuts and bolts of it. I’m sure it isn’t rocket science though for someone who works in the area.

I don’t think CT Corporation or a similar are a good option, as to my knowledge they serve only as registered agents and not as trustees.

Topic Author
Cruise
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Cruise » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:30 pm

J295 wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:11 pm
Check with your lawyer who is setting up the trust, that is assuming you are using a lawyer.

In my former law firm, I know that sometimes one of the estate planning lawyers who worked for some of our celebrity type clients who didn’t want their home address known had a process for dealing with this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t know the nuts and bolts of it. I’m sure it isn’t rocket science though for someone who works in the area.

I don’t think CT Corporation or a similar are a good option, as to my knowledge they serve only as registered agents and not as trustees.
Thanks. I am using an estate planning attorney, one of the best in my state.

While my PI friend thinks that CT corp/LLC would effectively hide our ownership, I did talk to the local CT office head, who informed me that while they could be registered agents, the "members" of the LLC would still be visible under public records. My attorney said that the only way to avoid this would be to have a third party to be the trustee. Having all my eggs under someone else's control is not palatable at this time in my life.

So the information I've been getting is a bit contradictory, so I am helpful any BH thoughts on what works elsewhere.

AlphaLess
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by AlphaLess » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:37 pm

Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:30 pm
J295 wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:11 pm
Check with your lawyer who is setting up the trust, that is assuming you are using a lawyer.

In my former law firm, I know that sometimes one of the estate planning lawyers who worked for some of our celebrity type clients who didn’t want their home address known had a process for dealing with this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t know the nuts and bolts of it. I’m sure it isn’t rocket science though for someone who works in the area.

I don’t think CT Corporation or a similar are a good option, as to my knowledge they serve only as registered agents and not as trustees.
Thanks. I am using an estate planning attorney, one of the best in my state.

While my PI friend thinks that CT corp/LLC would effectively hide our ownership, I did talk to the local CT office head, who informed me that while they could be registered agents, the "members" of the LLC would still be visible under public records. My attorney said that the only way to avoid this would be to have a third party to be the trustee. Having all my eggs under someone else's control is not palatable at this time in my life.

So the information I've been getting is a bit contradictory, so I am helpful any BH thoughts on what works elsewhere.
Thanks. Just a random question. If the estate planning lawyer you are using is one of the best, how is it that he did not know that one detail that was disclosed to you by the local CT office head?
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.

Topic Author
Cruise
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Cruise » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:32 am

AlphaLess wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:37 pm
Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:30 pm
J295 wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:11 pm
Check with your lawyer who is setting up the trust, that is assuming you are using a lawyer.

In my former law firm, I know that sometimes one of the estate planning lawyers who worked for some of our celebrity type clients who didn’t want their home address known had a process for dealing with this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t know the nuts and bolts of it. I’m sure it isn’t rocket science though for someone who works in the area.

I don’t think CT Corporation or a similar are a good option, as to my knowledge they serve only as registered agents and not as trustees.
Thanks. I am using an estate planning attorney, one of the best in my state.

While my PI friend thinks that CT corp/LLC would effectively hide our ownership, I did talk to the local CT office head, who informed me that while they could be registered agents, the "members" of the LLC would still be visible under public records. My attorney said that the only way to avoid this would be to have a third party to be the trustee. Having all my eggs under someone else's control is not palatable at this time in my life.

So the information I've been getting is a bit contradictory, so I am helpful any BH thoughts on what works elsewhere.
Thanks. Just a random question. If the estate planning lawyer you are using is one of the best, how is it that he did not know that one detail that was disclosed to you by the local CT office head?
It was not the attorney who was mistaken, it was the PI friend of mine. Sorry if my rendition is confusing.

Mimmz
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Mimmz » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:47 am

The first thing to accept is it’s rarely foolproof, but rather about making it difficult enough that it’s not figured out through commonly accessed processes and/or difficult enough to thwart less than serious inquiries.

We recently purchased a residential property, using a LLC as the owner, an attorney to file the articles of organization, and a trust as the manager. My wife couldn’t make it to closing, and the bank for the mortgage ended up filing a separate power of attorney with our recorder of deeds (first time this has happened for us) for me to sign on her behalf, which effectively defeated the purpose. Sure, there’s maybe one more hoop to jump through beyond a casual search, but both our names are now easily associated with the property.

We also just received a tax proration out of escrow, made out to that LLC. Most banks apparently won’t let you endorse such a check over to an individual or other business. So I’m opening up a business account just to deposit this check.

Long story short - it’s often as many hoops to set it up as it is to figure you out, and rarely as successful as you want it to be.

bsteiner
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by bsteiner » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:41 am

Trusts don’t have owners (except sometimes for tax purposes). They have trustees and beneficiaries.

Nor do trusts have registered agents like corporations and LLCs in most states.

Most celebrities don’t mind having things in their name. Perhaps they want the publicity.

But sometimes someone has a reason not to associate his/her name with an asset.

A revocable trust with a name is that doesn’t include your last name and with a trustee with a different last name should accomplish your objective.

Another possibility is an LLC with a name that doesn’t include your last name.

Presintense
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Presintense » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:07 am

We accomplished a similar objective by using wife’s first and middle initial and maiden last name as one of several names of our trust. Hence, there is a name on the ownership which doesn’t appear to be either of ours.

One word of caution if this hasn’t already been addressed: internet personal information sites often gather their information from utility and other bill/account information. To be truly detached you will likely need to manage the names on all bills/accounts (credit card, utilities, etc.) that are tied to the property address.
Performance = Potential - Distraction

J295
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by J295 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:12 am

I'll contact my old law firm and see if I can provide some thoughts for you and your lawyer to consider .....

c1over8
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by c1over8 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:46 am

Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:30 pm
Having all my eggs under someone else's control is not palatable at this time in my life.
You could always get a separate trust for the real estate and have all your non-real estate eggs in another trust of which you and/or your spouse are trustee(s). Or only title your real estate directly to your trust and keep all your non-real estate eggs in your name with POD/TOD designations to flow to your trust at your death (or perhaps your spouse as the primary beneficiary and your trust as the contingent so they only flow to your trust if your spouse doesn't survive you). Grant a power to remove the trustee to multiple people in case the need for anonymity changes, you can set it up so you can remove during life, but if you are incapacitated or after your death, you want someone else to be able to remove as well.

InternationalMan
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by InternationalMan » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:48 am

Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:11 pm
My wife and I are creating a family trust. One of our concerns is to purchase a new residential property in such a fashion that a public records search of the property would not reveal our identities. There is a security concern involved.

Our PI friend suggested that the CT Corporation System or Corporate Company is used for this purpose and has offices around the county.
A registered agent is not the solution.

The first step is to identify the type of risk you are trying to protect against. Nosy neighbors? Kidnappers and criminals? Journalists? Legal creditors? A government agency? What kind of legal or illegal techniques will be used to uncover the truth? A specialist asset protection lawyer maybe what you are looking for. Think Panama Papers type of law firm or Michael Cohen - maybe not the best examples of a successful outcome. I don't believe the typical wills and trusts lawyer or general practitioner will have the expertise to handle anything more than the most basic level of privacy protection.

There's lots of ways identity could be revealed aside from a property record search. Utility bills, tax records, service providers, financial statements, auto records, intercepting mail, social engineering etc.. The other problem is that anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering laws make it difficult to use entity names alone for anything that involves banks and financial sector. How is the purchase and mortgage going to work? They might want copies of the trust or corporate resolutions or want to see personal identification. There has to be a human named somewhere and to legally sign transactions. Trustees, beneficiaries, corporate officers, LLC members, shareholders, beneficial owners etc.. Done well would need corporate trustees and trusted people to be your nominees. A nominee might have to be lawyer or some other fiduciary to protect against your own nominee from defrauding you.

J295
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by J295 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:36 pm

This is not legal advice to OP or anyone else, and I'd encourage OP and anyone interested in this issue to consult with your own lawyer (understand OP is going to do such consultation).

You may wish to ask your lawyer about whether, for privacy reasons, he/she can set up a separate revocable trust for you (the OP) with OP (and/or other family members) as beneficiary and the lawyer as trustee --- this trust would to own the residence and no other assets (and you will need to handle insurance on and relating to the property and other matters regarding the property). You will probably want to ask if you should set up a separate revocable trust to hold OP's other assets. You will want your lawyer to advise on the requirements for titling real estate your state. Perhaps is can read: "Jane Smith as Trustee for the ABC Street revocable trust."

Topic Author
Cruise
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Cruise » Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:00 pm

J295 wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:36 pm
This is not legal advice to OP or anyone else, and I'd encourage OP and anyone interested in this issue to consult with your own lawyer (understand OP is going to do such consultation).

You may wish to ask your lawyer about whether, for privacy reasons, he/she can set up a separate revocable trust for you (the OP) with OP (and/or other family members) as beneficiary and the lawyer as trustee --- this trust would to own the residence and no other assets (and you will need to handle insurance on and relating to the property and other matters regarding the property). You will probably want to ask if you should set up a separate revocable trust to hold OP's other assets. You will want your lawyer to advise on the requirements for titling real estate your state. Perhaps is can read: "Jane Smith as Trustee for the ABC Street revocable trust."
Many thanks to everyone for their input, and a special thanks to J295 for checking with his/her old law firm!

AlphaLess
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by AlphaLess » Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:00 pm

Cruise wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:32 am
AlphaLess wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:37 pm
Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:30 pm
J295 wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:11 pm
Check with your lawyer who is setting up the trust, that is assuming you are using a lawyer.

In my former law firm, I know that sometimes one of the estate planning lawyers who worked for some of our celebrity type clients who didn’t want their home address known had a process for dealing with this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t know the nuts and bolts of it. I’m sure it isn’t rocket science though for someone who works in the area.

I don’t think CT Corporation or a similar are a good option, as to my knowledge they serve only as registered agents and not as trustees.
Thanks. I am using an estate planning attorney, one of the best in my state.

While my PI friend thinks that CT corp/LLC would effectively hide our ownership, I did talk to the local CT office head, who informed me that while they could be registered agents, the "members" of the LLC would still be visible under public records. My attorney said that the only way to avoid this would be to have a third party to be the trustee. Having all my eggs under someone else's control is not palatable at this time in my life.

So the information I've been getting is a bit contradictory, so I am helpful any BH thoughts on what works elsewhere.
Thanks. Just a random question. If the estate planning lawyer you are using is one of the best, how is it that he did not know that one detail that was disclosed to you by the local CT office head?
It was not the attorney who was mistaken, it was the PI friend of mine. Sorry if my rendition is confusing.
Hmm. Shouldn't that kind of advice come from a paid, top attorney (instead of an unpaid PI friend)?
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.

Topic Author
Cruise
Posts: 727
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:17 pm

Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Cruise » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:44 am

AlphaLess wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:00 pm
Cruise wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:32 am
AlphaLess wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:37 pm
Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:30 pm
J295 wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:11 pm
Check with your lawyer who is setting up the trust, that is assuming you are using a lawyer.

In my former law firm, I know that sometimes one of the estate planning lawyers who worked for some of our celebrity type clients who didn’t want their home address known had a process for dealing with this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t know the nuts and bolts of it. I’m sure it isn’t rocket science though for someone who works in the area.

I don’t think CT Corporation or a similar are a good option, as to my knowledge they serve only as registered agents and not as trustees.
Thanks. I am using an estate planning attorney, one of the best in my state.

While my PI friend thinks that CT corp/LLC would effectively hide our ownership, I did talk to the local CT office head, who informed me that while they could be registered agents, the "members" of the LLC would still be visible under public records. My attorney said that the only way to avoid this would be to have a third party to be the trustee. Having all my eggs under someone else's control is not palatable at this time in my life.

So the information I've been getting is a bit contradictory, so I am helpful any BH thoughts on what works elsewhere.
Thanks. Just a random question. If the estate planning lawyer you are using is one of the best, how is it that he did not know that one detail that was disclosed to you by the local CT office head?
It was not the attorney who was mistaken, it was the PI friend of mine. Sorry if my rendition is confusing.
Hmm. Shouldn't that kind of advice come from a paid, top attorney (instead of an unpaid PI friend)?
Hmm. Whether paid or uncompensated, friend or strictly business, the expert in the task of finding hidden people is a PI, not an estate attorney. An expert in creating a legal structure is an attorney. Having both as resources seems like a good start in exploring options.

I guess you never ask for unpaid advice, like on BH?

AlphaLess
Posts: 1591
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Location: Kentucky

Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by AlphaLess » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:36 am

Cruise wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:44 am
AlphaLess wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:00 pm
Cruise wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:32 am
AlphaLess wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:37 pm
Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:30 pm


Thanks. I am using an estate planning attorney, one of the best in my state.

While my PI friend thinks that CT corp/LLC would effectively hide our ownership, I did talk to the local CT office head, who informed me that while they could be registered agents, the "members" of the LLC would still be visible under public records. My attorney said that the only way to avoid this would be to have a third party to be the trustee. Having all my eggs under someone else's control is not palatable at this time in my life.

So the information I've been getting is a bit contradictory, so I am helpful any BH thoughts on what works elsewhere.
Thanks. Just a random question. If the estate planning lawyer you are using is one of the best, how is it that he did not know that one detail that was disclosed to you by the local CT office head?
It was not the attorney who was mistaken, it was the PI friend of mine. Sorry if my rendition is confusing.
Hmm. Shouldn't that kind of advice come from a paid, top attorney (instead of an unpaid PI friend)?
Hmm. Whether paid or uncompensated, friend or strictly business, the expert in the task of finding hidden people is a PI, not an estate attorney. An expert in creating a legal structure is an attorney. Having both as resources seems like a good start in exploring options.

I guess you never ask for unpaid advice, like on BH?
True. Let's recap:
- paid expert, one of the top in state, EX in area X,
- unpaid expert, friend, FY in area Y.

However, you took FY's advice in area X. That does not make sense.
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.

Topic Author
Cruise
Posts: 727
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:17 pm

Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by Cruise » Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:59 am

AlphaLess wrote:
Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:36 am
Cruise wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:44 am
AlphaLess wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:00 pm
Cruise wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:32 am
AlphaLess wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:37 pm


Thanks. Just a random question. If the estate planning lawyer you are using is one of the best, how is it that he did not know that one detail that was disclosed to you by the local CT office head?
It was not the attorney who was mistaken, it was the PI friend of mine. Sorry if my rendition is confusing.
Hmm. Shouldn't that kind of advice come from a paid, top attorney (instead of an unpaid PI friend)?
Hmm. Whether paid or uncompensated, friend or strictly business, the expert in the task of finding hidden people is a PI, not an estate attorney. An expert in creating a legal structure is an attorney. Having both as resources seems like a good start in exploring options.

I guess you never ask for unpaid advice, like on BH?
True. Let's recap:
- paid expert, one of the top in state, EX in area X,
- unpaid expert, friend, FY in area Y.

However, you took FY's advice in area X. That does not make sense.
I thank all who have made helpful suggestions.

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snackdog
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Re: Hiding Identity of Trust Owner: Registered Agent Services Needed?

Post by snackdog » Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:24 am

Also keep in mind if at any point you are trying to actively conceal the property ownership (as in during litigation or other times you are likely to be investigated for assets), you should not be living in or visiting the property lest a PI track you there. Ensure you receive no paper mail related to the property, lest it be recovered from your mailbox or trash.

Also, if involved in litigation and asked by a court to list your assets, you could be in trouble if you are not truthful and this is uncovered.

Another option would be to legally change your name to John Smith (no middle initial). People searching for your assets would have quite a difficult task as there are about 50,000 John Smiths in the US.

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