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Protection of your personal assets: LLC or increase insurance?

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Steve Might

Real Estate Investor from Fenton, Michigan

Nov 19 '12, 07:44 PM


I had already started a thread on this topic above before I saw this. There are a lot of posters in this thread I respect. The answer we all need the most is to know how often the “veil is pierced” in LLCs. Rob and I are in the same state of Michigan so I was glad to see his answer. Is there a way to research at a law library or a court as to the effectiveness of LLCs in protecting business owners in ACTUAL lawsuits?

Here is the website I used in my first psot that takes a negative view with LLCs. http://www.johntreed.com/entity.html



Joe B.

Real Estate Investor from El Dorado Hills, California

Nov 19 '12, 09:57 PM


Atty's won't even attempt to pierce the corporate veil unless you have significant assets and the damages were severe. It is vary rare in liability cases. If you have significant insurance limits, they won't even bother as the ROI for their efforts is extremely low.



Mark Updegraff Donor

Real Estate Investor from Rochester, New York

Nov 20 '12, 02:16 AM


After getting my feet wet in investing over the last 5 years in NY and PA here is what I have come up with.

Set up your LLC(s) ahead of time, so when you purchase property you can have it titled to the LLC from the get go. It is costly (more so in PA that NY) to transfer afterwards. All that does is reduce your ROI. We're in this to make money, so get one set up and start using it. When you hit your equity threshold start another entity. For example. LLC A may hold 10 properties valued at 1MM, but which are leveraged at 90% LTV leaving 100,000 in equity that could be attacked. You can tweak that number depending on your personal risk tolerance.

I have had no problem getting landlord insurance for property titled in an LLC, the LLC members are named as additional insured.

I created an LLC to do the management and I have also created an LLC to do the repairs and maintenance. They are both multimember LLCs as opposed to single member. I give small percentages to various family members to prevent them from ever being lumped together in court. You want the companies to seem as different as possible. If they are all single member LLCs with just you, it won't really help. If they are all multimember LLCs with different people and different ownership percentages you'll be in much better shape IF anything ever happens.

The management company bills back a monthly fee to the owning entities and deals with lease ups, paper work, advertising, bill paying etc.

The construction company provides all repairs and maintenance and bills the owning entities directly.

Hope it helps!



Medium_leavesMark Updegraff, Updegraff Development LLC
E-Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: (585) 666-3069
Website: http://www.UpdegraffDevelopment.com
http://UpdegraffDevelopment.com Real Estate Investment & Property Management, Rochester NY


Steve Might

Real Estate Investor from Fenton, Michigan

Nov 20 '12, 12:22 PM


Originally posted by Joe Bertolino:
It is vary rare in liability cases. If you have significant insurance limits, they won't even bother as the ROI for their efforts is extremely low.

Joe, if that is true I have to wonder if it is worthwhile to form the LLC. I am already insured through a landlord policy and umbrella. I would rather not do an LLC unless it will make a difference. I am hoping someone who knows their way around a law library would tell me where I could look in my home state of Michigan to research as to the frequency of LLCs being pierced. From what I have been told an attorney need only ask for it to happen. If that is true I would think every lawyer would do this regularly. If I find that LLCs do routinely protect business owners I will go forward with it. A lot of people say “it is a good idea,” and “it’s to protect you.” However I just don’t know the facts yet.



Rob K

Real Estate Investor from Michigan

Nov 20 '12, 01:39 PM


@Steve Might Check out this thread from a couple weeks ago.

http://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/52/topics/78884-has-a-tenant-or-former-tenant-ever-sued-you

I asked this because everyone is so paranoid about lawsuits and afraid that they will "lose everything." While I didn't think there would be any posts of people who lost everything when their tenant drowned in the bathtub, I did expect to hear more higher dollar lawsuits. None of the lawsuits that werre mentioned would have made a difference if it was an LLC or in their own name.

Check it out. There were some interesting posts.



Steve Might

Real Estate Investor from Fenton, Michigan

Nov 20 '12, 04:49 PM


@Rob K

Thank you for directing me to that. So far I just do not see any advantage to having an LLC. What do you think? You are right; the LLC would not have mattered in these cases. Rob do you mind telling me if you have your properties in an LLC? I know you stress privacy so feel free to PM me.

By the way, you really need to write a book. I would be your first customer.



Mark Spivey

Phoenix, Arizona

Nov 27 '12, 10:17 AM


I just wanted to add a few points...

1) For those who were looking at the percentage of LLC's which were pierced does not tell you how effective they are. It is entirely dependent on your state's laws, entity structure, and adherence to corporate formalities.

2) I dont think anyone would suggest having an LLC instead of insurance. You should have both imo. Another problem with sole reliance on insurance companies is their frequent refusal to pay claims, then requiring you to deal with two lawsuits, one to defend yourself, then another to sue the ins co.

3) Corporate entities also provide additional tax sheltering benefits.

4) Provide vehicles for protecting & transferring wealth to family.

5) Provide protection of your investment assets from personal lawsuit (You are sued from an automobile accident).

6) Provide privacy (though not complete I must add).



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