DEFINITION of 'Land Trust'

A legal agreement where a trustee is appointed to maintain ownership of a piece of real property for the benefit of another party: namely, the beneficiary of the trust. Land trusts are used by several different types of organizations for several reasons; nonprofit entities use them to hold conservation easements, and corporations and investment groups use them to accumulate large portions of land.

These agreements can also be known as Illinois-type land trusts.

BREAKING DOWN 'Land Trust'

Corporations and other institutional buyers sometimes use these trusts to discreetly purchase large tracts of land so as to avoid publicity. Publicity could cause the price of further land purchases to increase and potentially disrupt the firm's plans for developing or profiting from the land. Individuals usually use land trusts for privacy and to avoid probate.

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