For the record, trusts, LLCs, etc. do work and have their place. I’m saying that using them to protect property leaves some holes.
Equity stripping is nothing more than using mortgages to extract (i. e. strip) value from real property. The term usually implies using related companies to make loans between each other, but it also applies to using a mortgage in the traditional sense with a non-related lender. Most people mean related equity stripping when they use the term.
Equity stripping use a lender entity to place real liens on the property held in the entity that manages the property. The liens prevent a creditor from getting access to the entity’s assets because the lien holder gets paid before the creditor. Many times, it is set up with liens in excess of 100% of the property equity, which is not the case with traditional lenders. In fact, many lenders won’t lend more than 80-90% of the property value. Equity stripping protects 100% of the equity with only 2 entities. If a creditor gets smart and manages to put a lien on the property. The lender can foreclose on the note and the creditor’s lien will be removed by the foreclosure action.
It is superior to the separate entity approach because the separate entity approach does not protect the assets in the entity. Any equity in the entity is available to satisfy judgements against the entity. Even one LLC, trust, etc. per property has this issue. There is a cost issue in a place like CA that charges $800/year for each LLC and there is also tax reporting and accounting for each entity. That can become a hassle very quickly. Equity stripping only has the maintenance and costs of 2 entities regardless of the number of properties involved.
The loans are usually 30 day demand notes with no payments due until the lender calls the loan. Keep in mind that a real closing is required and actual cash must exchange hands. This is not some kind of fake scam. It is a real loan with real terms and real money. Interest payments to the lender entity are tax deductible to the managing entity, but income to the lender. It become a wash when the lender and managing entities are LLCs owned by the same tax payer. I don’t like this approach because there are legal theories that can be used to merge the two entities together and wipe out the loans. My personal choice is to use a c-corp, which is not owned by the people/entity that own the managing entity.
It is a little more complicated than what I have described, but that is the general idea. Some folks use IRA money to do the equity stripping so that the loan payments end up in Roth IRA where they are never taxed. The interest payments to the lender can be used to create tax deductible expenses like a private health care plan, employee benefit association, or private retirement plan. Another twist is to actually use 3rd party lenders to get the cash and invest the proceeds in life insurance that has returns in excess of the cost of the loan. Life insurance has statutory protections that are much more powerful than those of LLCs and other entities. This kind of set up requires professional advice because there can be adverse tax implications if not done properly.
A UCC lien is a mortgage for personal property, like jewelry, cars, etc. In the case of asset protection, UCC liens are placed on shares in corporations or LLC membership interests so that in the case the individual has a personal judgement, the creditor cannot take the assets.