Question: “We formed an LLC a few years ago, but haven’t done anything with it. We do own properties and a business, but nothing is titled in the name of the LLC. There are several family members involved and our tax returns are a mess. Any advice on what we should be doing?”
Matt’s Answer: “Yes, I advise you to gather all your deeds, financial records and company records, and sit down with your business or real estate attorney, your CPA and your insurance agent. I have reviewed your company records, and can see that you’ve done essentially no planning. We need to develop a plan for you. You need an asset protection plan that includes some training and education on how to operate your LLC. You need to get better insurance on your properties, your business and the LLC members. You need to fix your company record book, which includes the drafting and completion of an Operating Agreement. And, that Operating Agreement should contain buy-sell provisions to address what I call the “Big D’s-” death, disability, marital divorce, dissolution of the entity, and disinterest by one or more members. You also need to fix certain accounting and tax irregularities, which flow from your failure to devise a plan.
Your meeting with your attorney should last one hour to two hours, and should include training and instruction on how to operate this business. Yes, it is a business. “Real Estate Investing” is a misnomer. It should be called “Real Estate Management” or “Real Estate Business.” You should apply basic business principles to your real estate business. Although I cannot explain in great detail here everything you need to do to correct the shortcomings of your operation, I can assure you that it is a fairly routine matter for an experienced real estate and business attorney. This is not difficult to correct, but you need to consult with professionals and implement a plan. Do not believe everything you’ve read in a book, on the Internet or in a seminar manual. And do not expect your CPA or insurance agent to fix your legal matters, as each of these three professionals has his or her own expertise and field of licensed competency. Go see all three- an attorney, a CPA and an insurance agent- and get your house in order as soon as possible. Within thirty days, you should have your real estate business matters in order.”