Our Process

From the first time you contact us, we want your experience with LegalShelfCompany.com/International to be positive. That means taking the time to make sure you understand as much as you want to about the US property ownership market, and your options as a non-resident investor. It also means developing a long-term relationship with you, as our client. Things don’t stop when the ink dries on your paperwork, so why should we?

Asset Protection

We work with investors from around the world who want to protect their U.S.-based assets from lawsuits and frivolous claims by other people.

Here are some numbers that you should know:

  • There are 1.2 million lawyers in the United States. That is about 1 lawyer for every 254 people.
  • Based on recent American Bar Association statistics, 15 million lawsuits per year are filed in the United States. That’s one lawsuit for every 12 adults, and one lawsuit being filed every 2 seconds
  • The average cost per lawsuit has increased about 800% between 1950 and 2009.

The truth is, in this country, people sue. A lot. And for that reason, we highly recommend that you only do business here through a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a Series Limited Liability Company (SLLC) or, in some cases, a Limited Partnership or Limited Liability Limited Partnership (LP and LLLP). These are protected entities, which means the entity may be sued but the owners may not be sued, at least in most circumstances.

Even though you may live thousands of miles away, you aren’t immune to a collection claim. If you have a lot of assets here, a successful claimant against you will simply file to collect their judgment against your U.S.-based assets. If you have just one investment property here, you may not have much to lose, other than the property. But if you have a portfolio of U.S. properties, you could lose much more than the property that sparked a lawsuit. When you hold properties in your personal name, you are personally liable and responsible for paying for any claims or lawsuit judgments. If you can’t pay, then your assets can be seized, sold, and the profits taken to pay those judgments.

Property insurance is important, but it cannot and should not be your only defense against a lawsuit. If your insurance doesn’t cover a claim, you have no back-up plan.

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PRE-PLANNING PROCESS

When you first contact us, we’ll ask you a series of questions such as:

  • How many properties do you own now?
  • How many properties do you want to own in the future?
  • In what state or states will you own property?
  • Who are you buying properties with?

Your answers help us form a more complete picture of your U.S. investment plans. This in turn helps us to craft a legal and safe asset protection plan, including a strong business entity that will work for you.

When we quote you on an Asset Protection Plan, we’ll give you your options and let you know your costs, up-front. We don’t believe in hidden fees or surprise extra charges.

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Entity Planning and Creation

When you have decided on your best investment path, we’ll get to work on your behalf. We will:

  • Prepare and file the Articles to create your business structure
  • Engage a Resident Agent to provide registered office service in the incorporation state
  • Prepare and file the charter documents for your new company, including the Operating Agreement, Resolutions, and Member Interest Certificates
  • Obtain your business Tax ID number from the Internal Revenue Service
  • Provide you with ongoing email and telephone support as questions arise
  • Pay all connected filing fees to state agencies to get your business set up properly.

Your Asset Protection Plan will contain complete, comprehensive document packages with signing instructions. You will never get half-finished documentation with puzzling blank spaces.

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Recurring Entity Maintenance

Most US-formed companies¬† have some kind of yearly maintenance. This is usually satisfied by an Annual Report or some other type of filing. We’ll keep track of due dates and notify you of filing deadlines for your US company. We can also file your Annual Reports for you.

Sometimes there are other changes required. A partner leaves, a new partner wants to come aboard. Or you have a Series LLC and need a new Cell for a new deal. We can help you make the changes to your existing documentation and file any notifications with the state governments.

Need Annual Minutes? Once thought of as unnecessary for LLCs and LPs, we are now finding that more and more companies are relying on their Annual Minutes in lawsuits, audits and IRS challenges. Make sure your company intentions are clearly documented by keeping regular Minutes. We offer an Annual Minutes service to help you meet your ongoing compliance obligations.

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Resident Agent Service

All companies registered in the United States must have a resident agent. The role of the resident agent is to act as the legal agent and registered office for your company, in its state of incorporation, and every other state where your entity is qualified to do business.

Resident Agents accept service of documents on your behalf, and must be available during business hours from Monday-Friday.

Did you know that in the United States it is common practice for many state agencies to sell their public database information? Your Resident Agent can help to protect your privacy by not allowing your personal address to be listed, and making sure that only the bare minimum of information required under state laws is reported.

All LLCs, Series LLCs, LPs and LLLPs must have a Resident Agent at all times. State laws are very clear that a company with no Resident Agent will be revoked and cancelled by the state if that position is left empty for more than 30 days.

In the United States, Resident Agents service is billed yearly as a recurring charge. Failure to pay on time can result in your Resident Agent resigning, and your company falling into delinquent or even cancelled status. Reinstatement can cost hundred of extra dollars in fees and penalties.

With our Resident Agent Service, you don’t have to worry. We’ll make sure you have plenty of notice of your renewal date, and that your Resident Agent Service is kept current and in good standing.

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Banking in the United States

Being able to open up a bank account in the United States is an important part of the investment process for many foreign investors. There are many property management companies who will not send funds abroad, for fear of running into complications from the US tax authorities.

At the same time, changes to U.S. laws have made banking from overseas more difficult. The biggest challenge that many foreign investors face is in getting a bank account opened in the first place.

It is certainly easier to come to the United States to open up your bank account, and a bank account for your business. But if you are not able to come to the United States, that is not a bar on establishing a banking relationship in this country.

Through our contacts, we can put you in touch with bankers here in the United States who are willing to work with you to meet identification and other requirements, and to get your business and personal bank accounts opened. In many instances, no visit to the United States will be required, and you will be able to use the telephone, fax and email to establish your accounts.

To learn more about banking in the United States, download a copy of our free eBook, “Buying U.S. Real Estate: What Foreign Investors Need to Know”.

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Mailing Service

Did you know that many state agencies will not mail to addresses outside the United States? That can present problems for foreign investors. At the same time there are companies who charge hundreds or thousands of dollars each year to provide you with a U.S. mailing address, and who are willing to forward mail to you, wherever you are.

With our mailing service, you will receive a U.S. address that you can use for your business. Physical mail is bundled and shipped to you on a weekly basis. At your request, we can even scan and email documents to you. Our mailing service is volume-dependent, with very competitive rates.

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ITIN Service

Every US taxpayer, investor and/or business owner must have a specific tax number to identify them to the US government. These numbers are assigned by the U.S. tax authority, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Businesses have an EIN (Employer Identification Number). US citizens and qualified residents have a SSN (Social Security Number). Non-citizens, and qualified non-residents have an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). If you are married, you and your spouse must each have either an SSN or an ITIN.

If you are a citizen, or have legal permission to work in the United States, you will generally qualify for a SSN. Many students and guest lecturers also qualify to get a SSN.

If you don’t qualify for a SSN then you may qualify for an ITIN. One way to qualify is to own a U.S. business, or U.S. real estate. In fact, most foreign investors fall into this category.

If you have an LLC you can immediately apply for an ITIN. There is a significant tax advantage to you here. The sooner you get an ITIN, the sooner you can stop the 30% tax withholding.

ITINs can take several months to be issued. It will take at least 4-8 weeks or more for the IRS to process your application and issue your ITIN. That is why we will ask you for the proper identification documentation right away, at the same time we create your LLC. The faster we get your ITIN the more flexibility you will have.

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Taxes

No matter what type of structure and ownership situation, you will need to file a tax return in the United States.

Single-Owners, Married-Couples

You’ll need to file a personal tax return if you are the only owner, or if you and your spouse are the only owners of your U.S. company. The company will not need to file a separate return.

Multiple Owners

If you own your U.S. business with other people, then your company will need to file a tax return, and so will each owner.

State and City Tax Returns

Depending on where your U.S. investment property is located, more returns may be required by the state, and sometimes even the city.

Staying current on taxes in the U.S. is a vital part of your investment strategy. But understanding all of your requirements can be a daunting task. We can refer you to tax professionals who will take the stress out of an unfamiliar tax system. We can refer you to professionals who will take care of preparing and filing your tax returns. Our referrals will work with you to get the information we need to get your returns prepared, accurately and on time. Your questions will all be answered and you will always feel in control, even when you are thousands of miles away.

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At LegalShelfCompany.com/International, our goal is to make owning real estate in the United States as simple and straightforward as possible. Let us help you with these requirements, so you can focus on growing and maintaining your investment portfolio.

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