Separation of Business and Real Estate Holdings

Real Estate Holdings Pie ChartLike most businesses, yours probably has a variety of physical assets, such as production equipment, office furnishings, and a plethora of technological devices. But the largest physical asset in your portfolio may be your real estate holdings. That is the building and the land it sits on.

Under such circumstances, many business owners choose to separate ownership of the real estate holdings from the company itself. A typical purpose of this strategy is to shield these assets from claims by creditors if there is a filing for small business bankruptcy. This is assuming the property isn’t pledged as loan collateral. In addition, the property is better protected against claims that may arise if a customer is injured on the property and sues the business.

But there’s another reason to consider separating real estate from the business: to benefit your succession plan.

Ownership Transition

A common and generally effective succession planning strategy is to separate the ownership of real estate from the company itself. This is done by forming a distinct entity. A couple examples includes a limited liability company (LLC) or a limited liability partnership (LLP).  Doing so holds all legal titles to the property. Your business will then rent the property from the entity in a tenant-landlord relationship.

Using this strategy can help you:

  1. Transition ownership of your company to one or more chosen successors.
  2. Or to reward employees for strong performance.

By holding real estate in a separate entity in the company buy sell agreement, you can sell shares in the company to the successors or employees without transferring ownership of the real estate.

In addition, retaining title to the property will allow you to collect rent from the new owners. Doing so can be a valuable source of cash flow during retirement.

You could also realize the benefits of real estate holdings. Let’s say you are holding your real estate in a separate legal entity. As such, you can gift business interests to your heirs without giving up interest in the property.

Complex Strategy to Real Estate Holdings

The details involved in separating the title to your real estate from your business can be complex. Our accounting firm can help you determine whether this strategy would suit your company and succession plan, including a close examination of the potential tax benefits or risks.