24 Jul 2012

All deeds and other documents relating to real estate filed with the county recorder’s office in the county where the real estate is located are public records and anyone may access them. Although this fact is not a concern to most people, some people, particularly those in the entertainment industry, relish their privacy and do not want the general public to know where they live. They would prefer that their houses are not a regular stop on the route for the Starline Tours, the TMZ Celebrity Bus Tour or prominently listed on the maps to the stars’ homes that are sold on many Los Angeles street corners. To avoid this unnecessary notoriety, anonymity may be achieved by taking title to the house through a title holding trust.

A title holding trust is a revocable living trust that will hold title to real estate and is designed to hide the real estate owner’s identity from the public records. Like any other revocable living trust, the title holding trust must have a person designated in the trust document to serve as the trustee. The trustee’s job is to manage the assets held in the trust. The real estate owner may not serve as the Trustee of the title holding trust because the trustee’s name will appear in the public records, which would defeat the purpose of establishing this type of trust.  As such, the real estate owner must choose a trusted person, such as an accountant or a business manager, to serve as the trustee.  The real estate owner will be the beneficiary of the title holding trust and may amend or revoke the trust as needed during his or her lifetime.

Choosing a name for the title holding trust is important. Although a typical revocable living trust usually includes the name of the person establishing the trust (e.g., the “Black Family Trust” or the “John and Mary Smith Living Trust”), the title holding trust must not include any portion of the real estate owner’s name. Names for title holding trusts should be ambiguous so as not to identify the real estate owner (e.g., the “ABC Trust,” or the “Canyon Road Trust”)

Interestingly, some celebrities forget that fans are intimately familiar with the details of their lives, and name their title holding trust after some event in their lives, a family pet or other thing that is important to them.  In these cases, fans have figured out the location of the celebrity’s residence based on the name of the title holding trust.  As such, it’s best to choose a name for the title holding trust that has no connection to the real estate owner.

If you would like to discuss this or other trusts and estates issues, please contact the attorneys at Drucker Law Offices, 468 North Camden Drive, 2nd Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, 310.285.5375 Tel, 310.444.9754 Fax, www.druckerlaw.com

Print Friendly