A City administrator called me the other day looking for the owner of a property I control. He called because I am the Detective with magnify glassproperty manager of the building. The administrator said the City wanted to make some improvements to the intersection outside of the building. To do that, they needed an easement signed by the owner.

He went on. He said he had been trying to contact the owner of record who was a professional trustee company. “Apparently,” he informed me, “the trust company has gone out of business.”

I smiled and said, “Maybe I can help.” I told him to send me what he needed to be signed and I would forward it to the Owner/Trustee.

The back-story of this event is that my Professional Trustee went out of business. When they did, they transferred all of their interest to Chicago Title Land Trust Company. Chicago Title has been my Trustee for years now. Obviously, I chose not to have a deed recorded from the old Trustee to the new Trustee when the transfer occurred.

At some point (when I sell or refinance), I will have to record Chicago Title as the real owner. But, in the meantime, I will leave the public records the way they are for continued anonymity and asset protection. Most importantly though, to make things tough for any contingency fee attorney and their deadbeat client looking for an easy mark.

Why Would I Do This?

You see, a contingency fee attorney can skim through the courthouse records and look for people who use their own name to hold the titles to many parcels of real estate. The thinking is that the person, or entity if the real estate is held in the name of a corporation, that has multiple real property holdings then has assets that can be won in a court case. Or, even better, can be leveraged for a deal on the courthouse steps.

By holding the titles in the names of a variety of Trustees, you can control many properties while keeping your name out of the public record.

Update! Reader Kirby asked, “So are you having Chicago Title sign the easement and revealing to the city that they are now the Trustee?”

Great question, Kirby!

Thank you for writing and asking it. Here’s your answer: No, I did not tell the City about Chicago Title. I signed the document as the “Property Manager, Agent for the Trust.”

The document in question was not going to be recorded anywhere and I wanted the City to deal with me anyway as they would ultimately send me a check for the right-of-way they were seeking.

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