What is an 'Actual Owner'

An Actual Owner is a person or entity that receives the benefit of ownership. Being the actual owner, the asset is under the person's or entity's name, and they are entitled to any advantage from that. The actual owner can be hard to determine at times if there are multiple people or entities involved. Also known as a beneficial owner.

BREAKING DOWN 'Actual Owner'

For example, the actual owner of a corporation would own over 50% of the company. However, it can get more complex when dealing with shell corporations and trusts. There can be significant tax advantages by increasing the complexity of ownership. The actual owner may be an individual, a group of individuals, another company, or even a group of individuals and another company or companies.

How to Find the Actual Owner

For smaller, private companies, finding the actual owner is not all that difficult. The first place to look is the secretary of state or corporation office in the state where the company is incorporated. Most states keep these records online, and it's free for the public to search the database. Keep in mind that a corporation or LLC may have an office in one state but be incorporated in another. Delaware and Nevada together have a majority of all the business incorporations in the U.S., so this is a good place to start your search.

If the state in question doesn't offer these records free online, you'll have to submit a written request and in some cases pay a fee to get this information. In some cases, what you'll receive is a contact person for the entity, often an attorney. It's up to you to contact that person to obtain the ownership information.

For larger companies, there may be no actual owner. The public may hold the majority of the shares, or there's some combination of public and private ownership. Ownership of the company is determined by who owns the shares, and battles for ownership may take place when a person or entity acquires a sufficient number of shares to seek one or more seats on the company's board of directors.

Real Estate Ownership

Finding the actual owner of real estate can be simple or complex, depending on the situation. In the vast majority of cases, residential property ownership can be determined by going online to or visiting the county, town, or city property records office. For commercial buildings and more expensive residential properties, ownership may be in corporate names, in which case you'll need to get the corporate name then research that as outlined above.

  1. Beneficial Owner

    A beneficial owner is the true owner of an asset or security ...
  2. Incorporation

    Incorporation is the legal process used to form a corporate entity ...
  3. Entity Theory

    Entity theory is the assumption that the economic activities ...
  4. Real Property

    Real property is a term commonly used in land law to denote any ...
  5. Fractional Ownership

    Percentage ownership in an asset. Fractional ownership shares ...
  6. Total Cost Of Ownership - TCO

    Total cost of ownership is the purchase price of an asset plus ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    5 Common Methods of Holding Titles on Real Property

    Understand the common methods of holding title to real estate property so you can decide which method best meets your needs.
  2. Investing

    iShares Silver Trust ETF: Who Is Invested? (SLV)

    Discover the top institutional owners of the iShares Silver Trust exchange-traded fund (ETF), their exact ownership and their recent position adjustments.
  3. Small Business

    Small Business: It's All About Relationships

    For small businesses and entrepreneurs, an owner should work to build relationships with a network of trusted experts rather than be a jack-of-all-trades.
  4. Small Business

    Exit Strategies for Business Owners

    Ideally, an exit strategy is planned early in the life of the business, begin with the end in mind.
  5. Small Business

    If Your Business Doesn't Sell, Can You Still Retire?

    Many business owners have the dream of one day selling their business. Yet most will never be sold.
  6. Small Business

    Finding The Best Buyer For Your Small Business

    Learn more about the process business owners go through to seal a merger or acquisition deal.
  7. Retirement

    Should Aging Parents and Children Co-Own Assets?

    Many adult children suggest being a joint account owner to handle their aging parents' finances, however, there could be unintended consequences.
  8. Small Business

    Don't get sued: 5 tips to protect your small business

    Find out what you can do when your company is sued and learn how to avoid a lawsuit and the actions to take to protect your company.
  9. Small Business

    5 Financial Mistakes Business Owners Can Avoid

    Here are five financial mistakes business owners typically make, and strategies to ensure you don't make them.
  1. What are the components of a financial account?

    Understand what the financial account is and how it relates to a country's balance of payments. Learn about the components ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Yield Curve

    A yield curve is a line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality, but ...
  2. Portfolio

    A portfolio is a grouping of financial assets such as stocks, bonds and cash equivalents, also their mutual, exchange-traded ...
  3. Gross Profit

    Gross profit is the profit a company makes after deducting the costs of making and selling its products, or the costs of ...
  4. Diversification

    Diversification is the strategy of investing in a variety of securities in order to lower the risk involved with putting ...
  5. Intrinsic Value

    Intrinsic value is the perceived or calculated value of a company, including tangible and intangible factors, and may differ ...
  6. Current Assets

    Current assets is a balance sheet item that represents the value of all assets that can reasonably expected to be converted ...
Trading Center