“On the 74th floor of the Time Warner Center, Condominium 74B was purchased in 2010 for $15.65 million by a secretive entity called 25CC ST74B L.L.C. It traces to the family of Vitaly Malkin, a former Russian senator and banker who was barred from entering Canada because of suspected connections to organized crime.”
In a recent five part series entitled “Towers of Secrecy”, the New York Times endeavored to uncover the mysteries of the iconic Time Warner Center, which looms over Central Park in New York City. Due to the use of shell companies and trusts which “purchase” the high-value condominiums, the exact identities of the residents remain elusive. TV celebrities, rock stars, and professional athletes are among the VIP crowd who live and work in these residences.
Tom Brady, for instance, is said to own a condominium at Time Warner Center, though his unit is titled in the name of his trust, “Courage Under Fire.” It is clear that secrecy enshrouds most of the property records and business transactions when it comes to real estate in this particular part of New York City.
The source article explores why this presents a problem: international political dissidents and foreign nationals have been allowed to purchase units and take refuge in this particular building while safely hiding foreign assets and avoiding taxation. The article continues an in-depth look at “the rise of the secret buyer.”
While the rest of the 99% of the country probably won’t be concerned with avoiding celebrity press attention or foreign tax issues, privacy is still a concern when it comes to ownership of assets such as real property. That is where the Revocable Living Trust becomes an appealing option. For the average family, trusts are a legitimate and powerful estate planning tool for passing valuable assets like a home over to the next generation without having to make such transactions public record.
With just a will or even no estate plan, your estate becomes public record at your death during a court process known as probate. Trusts however, have the ability to own your assets and are directed by your own terms for running the overall estate. This in turn ensures that your affairs are well managed should you become incapacitated and also when you die.
At your death, if proper planning has occurred, your assets such as your home aren’t subject to the probate process and remain private. Pesky investor schemes, unjust creditors or people with bad blood toward you and your family will find it much harder to pry into the estate administration.
To ensure your estate remains private during your life and at your passing, consult a qualified and estate and probate attorney in Austin, Texas.
The attorneys and team at Nickerson Law Group help families with estate planning, probate, guardianship, and special needs trust planning in Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lakeway, Bee Cave, Dripping Springs and the central Texas area. For more information and to learn about our firm, visit Nickerson Law Group’s website.
Reference: New York Times (February 7, 2015) “Stream of Foreign Wealth Flows to Elite New York Real Estate.”