How Does a Land Trust Operate?

A land trust may be created by anyone capable of entering into a contract–an individual; a group of persons such as a partnership, syndicate, or business association; or two or more private individuals who desire to purchase and own the real estate as a joint venture.

Under a land trust agreement, the beneficiary retains complete control of the real estate in the same manner as if the recorded title were in his or her name. He or she may end the trust whenever desired and may add additional property to the trust at any time. At all times the beneficiary deals with the property as though he or she were the record title owner, for, as a matter of fact, he or she is the owner. The trustee executes deeds and mortgages and deals with the property only if directed in writing by the beneficiary.

When title to real estate is held in a land trust, the interest of the beneficiary, under terms of the trust agreement, is personal property. Since the beneficiary’s interest is personal property, he or she may transfer it by assigning that interest without the formality of executing and acknowledging a deed; the wife or husband need not join in such assignment for the purpose of releasing the spouse’s homestead rights.

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