How Delaware Statutory Trusts Offer Three Key Benefits 

By Paul Chastain on June 26, 2023

Real estate investors often encounter unique challenges as they approach retirement and prioritize estate planning. Over the years, their real estate assets tend to appreciate in value, while annual depreciation gradually reduces the property's cost basis. Consequently, selling a property before the investor's demise can lead to significant capital gains taxes. However, it's not uncommon for the investor's heirs to lack interest in actively managing these real estate holdings once they inherit them.

In such cases, an effective solution that I have witnessed as a seasoned financial investor with 30 years of experience is the utilization of a 1031 Exchange into a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST). By opting for a DST, investors can sell their properties without incurring immediate tax consequences, while also benefiting from potential consistent income derived from real estate investments. Additionally, this approach allows for the preservation of the eventual step-up in basis upon the investor's passing, which can further enhance the financial benefits for their heirs.

What is A Delaware Statutory Trust?

Customer signing a contract for buying a house illustrating the process of investing in real estate using a 1031 exchange for tax deferral

A Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) is a legally recognized trust structure established for business purposes. It is often referred to as an Unincorporated Business Trust (UBO). DSTs are predominantly formed in Delaware due to the state's favorable statutory trust law. In 2004, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) granted approval for qualified DSTs as a viable investment option for individuals seeking to reinvest their funds from a 1031 Exchange.

Rather than acquiring replacement rental properties, investors have the opportunity to reinvest their proceeds into a Delaware Statutory Trust while deferring capital gains taxes. Whether the proceeds are allocated to a single trust or distributed among multiple trusts, each investment is treated as an exchange-qualified co-ownership. Essentially, from the perspective of the IRS, investing in a DST is equivalent to purchasing another 1031 Exchange-qualified real estate property.

One of the primary appeals for retiring investors or those looking to pass on assets to their beneficiaries is the combination of tax benefits and potential monthly income provided by a DST. By participating in a DST, investors can enjoy the advantages of a 1031 Exchange while alleviating themselves from the responsibilities associated with owning and managing additional properties.

Delaware Statutory Trusts (DSTs) offer several estate planning benefits that sophisticated investors often recognize. By implementing a DST strategy, beneficiaries can enjoy advantages such as the avoidance of capital gains taxes on inherited real estate, the minimization of disagreements among heirs, and the facilitation of charitable giving. Let's explore these benefits in more detail:

1. Elimination of Capital Gains Tax:

When an investor passes away, estate beneficiaries receive a stepped-up basis for tax purposes. This means that the beneficiaries are not required to pay capital gains taxes on the accumulated appreciation of the inherited property from the time it was originally acquired until the investor's death. This also includes any deferred capital gains on real estate that was previously involved in a 1031 Exchange and subsequently transferred into the DST.

Consequently, when a beneficiary sells an asset, the tax basis is stepped up to the value as of the date of the investor's death. It is important to note that while capital gains tax on inherited property can be avoided, assets held within a Delaware Statutory Trust are still considered part of the investor's estate. Therefore, normal estate tax rules and exclusions apply. To understand the implications for your specific estate, it is recommended to consult with an estate planning professional.

2. Flexible Distribution of Trust Assets to Beneficiaries:

A Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) can help minimize disagreements among partners and heirs regarding the distribution of trust assets. Upon the passing of an investor, there may be varying opinions on how to handle the assets, particularly when it comes to larger assets like real estate investments that are challenging to divide equitably.

In such cases, some investors take a proactive approach to avoid potential conflicts. By incorporating a DST into their estate plan, they can sell their real estate holdings and allocate the proceeds into different trusts. Each investment can be clearly identified and distributed to individual beneficiaries, granting them more control over the assets without involving other family members. This flexible distribution mechanism provides a practical solution to potential disputes.

3. Simplified Distributions to Charities:

Delaware Statutory Trusts also streamline the process of leaving real estate investments to charitable organizations. If a charity is designated as a beneficiary of real estate assets, it may lack the capacity or desire to actively manage the properties. In such situations, the charity might opt for an immediate liquidation of the property, even if its value is temporarily impacted by economic conditions. However, with a DST, the charity can receive the investor's interest in the trust without assuming day-to-day management responsibilities for rental properties.

The charity can benefit from potential monthly income generated by the trust until the sponsors of the DST determine the opportune time to sell the underlying assets. As each property within the trust is sold, the charity will receive its designated portion of the proceeds. This streamlined approach ensures that the charity maximizes the potential benefits of the donation without having to handle property management intricacies.


In a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST), the trust sponsor assumes the responsibility of making all decisions on behalf of the trust's investors. This structure allows investors to own real estate assets without the typical challenges and burdens associated with being a landlord and property owner. DSTs serve as legal entities that enable real estate investors to sell their properties and utilize a 1031 Exchange to defer capital gains taxes on the appreciated value of their real estate.

When participating in a DST, an investor's funds are typically pooled with those of other investors to acquire larger or multiple assets through the trust. These investments are treated as a direct interest in real estate for the purposes of IRS Section 1031.

Upon making an investment in a DST, owners have the potential to receive income from the trust's underlying real estate assets, typically on a monthly basis. It is important to note that the trust is required to retain a portion of its income in reserves, as it is not permitted to take on debt or request additional capital once it has completed its initial offering or closed.

By utilizing a DST, investors can benefit from professional property management and avoid the day-to-day operational responsibilities typically associated with owning and managing individual properties. The trust sponsor assumes the role of making strategic decisions and overseeing the management of the trust's real estate assets, providing investors with a hassle-free ownership experience.

Fractional Ownership of Institutional-Grade Real Estate

One of the advantages of investing in a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) is the opportunity for fractional ownership of institutional-grade real estate. Many real estate investors tend to focus on specific property types or regions based on their expertise, preferences, or proximity to attractive investment opportunities. However, with a DST, investors have the advantage of pooling their exchange proceeds with other investors, enabling the trust to own larger properties that individual investors may not be able to acquire on their own.

By participating in a DST, investors can diversify their investments across multiple trusts, allowing them to select and tailor their investment strategies based on their objectives. This flexibility enables investors to choose from various property types, geographic regions, and investment strategies that best align with their goals.

DSTs offer a wide range of industries and property types within their portfolios, including multi-family or student housing, healthcare facilities, office buildings, storage units, and retail properties. When considering DST options, it is important to inquire about the specific types of properties included in the offering to ensure they align with your investment preferences and objectives.

Delaware Statutory Trust Taxes

Delaware Statutory Trusts (DSTs) formed in Delaware benefit from the state's favorable tax environment. Delaware does not impose a Franchise Tax or income tax on statutory trusts established within its jurisdiction. This absence of state-level taxes reduces expenses associated with the trust, allowing more income potential to be retained by investors.

However, it's important to note that tax obligations are passed through to each individual investor in the DST. The tax liabilities are distributed proportionally based on the investor's investment in the trust. As a result, investors may receive 1099 and 1098 forms from the sponsor of the DST each year, reflecting the income and interest generated by the trust's portfolio performance. Additionally, an income statement is provided to facilitate the calculation of depreciation for tax purposes.

One significant advantage of investing in a DST is the simplified tax planning it offers for estate purposes. The monthly accounting of revenues and expenses is managed by the trust sponsor, which streamlines the tax reporting and planning process for investors. This alleviates the need for individual investors to handle the intricacies of tracking and reporting revenues and expenses related to the DST, thus providing convenience and ease in managing the tax aspects of the investment.

Here are the disadvantages of Delaware Statutory Trusts 

Young man signing a contract for buying a house with a real estate broker illustrating the process of investing in real estate using a 1031 exchange for tax deferral despite potential disadvantages

While Delaware Statutory Trusts (DSTs) offer several advantages, it's important to consider the potential disadvantages before deciding to utilize this strategy in your estate planning. Consulting with a licensed 1031 Exchange professional is recommended for a comprehensive evaluation of the pros and cons. Here are a couple of disadvantages to consider:

No Input on Decisions:

DSTs are passive investments managed by the trust's sponsor. The IRS approval conditions dictate that investors cannot have operational control or decision-making authority over the underlying properties. While a trust sponsor may be open to receiving feedback, they are not obligated to follow investors' recommendations.

This lack of control can be challenging for investors who are accustomed to being the final decision-maker on their investments. However, beneficiaries who have no interest in taking over the family real estate business may appreciate the hands-off approach that DSTs provide.

Illiquid Investments:

Investing in a DST involves acquiring a fractional interest in the trust, which can make it more challenging to liquidate part or all of your investment. Unlike listing an individual real estate property for sale, liquidating a DST investment is not as straightforward.

Investors should anticipate that their investment will remain tied to the trust until the properties held by the trust are sold. Unlike the stock market, there is no public market where investors can easily sell their interest in a DST. Therefore, DST investments should be approached with the understanding that they are generally illiquid and require a longer-term investment horizon.

It's crucial to evaluate these potential drawbacks alongside the advantages of DSTs and assess how they align with your specific investment goals and preferences.

Moderate To Long-term Hold Periods

Another disadvantage of Delaware Statutory Trusts (DSTs) to consider are the moderate to long-term hold periods associated with these investments. The trust sponsors typically adopt a long-term perspective for their investments, which means investors should anticipate a hold period ranging from 5 to 10 years before being able to access their investment. While many investors in rental real estate properties already expect to hold their assets for an extended duration, the inability to liquidate the investment early, if needed, can be a source of concern for some individuals.

Cannot Raise New Capital

Additionally, it's important to note that once a DST has closed, it cannot raise new capital from existing or new investors. The ongoing maintenance and capital improvements required by the trust must be funded by the reserves set aside by the trust.

This allocation of reserves reduces the amount of cash available to distribute to investors on a monthly basis. In cases where there are insufficient reserves available, the sponsor may need to sell one or more properties to ensure that there is enough cash flow to meet the trust's obligations.

Understanding these moderate to long-term hold periods and the limitations on raising new capital is crucial when considering DST investments. It is recommended to carefully evaluate your liquidity needs and investment time horizon to ensure they align with the characteristics of a DST investment.

Cannot Be Refinanced

Another important disadvantage to consider is that Delaware Statutory Trusts (DSTs) cannot be refinanced once the trust has closed, according to IRS rules. While not all DSTs have loans against their underlying properties, if there are loans in place, the inability to refinance can have implications for both the sponsor and investors.

In cases where the properties within the DST have loans, this restriction means that the sponsor cannot take advantage of potential drops in interest rates. If there is a decrease in interest rates, the sponsor is unable to refinance the loans to secure a lower rate, which could have been beneficial in reducing costs and increasing cash flow potential.

Conversely, if a property within the DST has a variable rate loan and interest rates increase, the sponsor is also unable to refinance the loan to lock in a lower rate before rates climb even higher. This can result in higher mortgage payments, potentially leading to reduced cash flow for investors. In extreme cases, the property may become unprofitable, necessitating a sale before it was initially planned.

It's important to understand the implications of the inability to refinance loans within a DST, particularly in a changing interest rate environment. Investors should carefully assess the potential impact on cash flow and profitability when considering DST investments.

Learn More About Delaware Statutory Trusts (DSTs)

If you are interested in learning more about Delaware Statutory Trusts (DSTs) and considering them for your 1031 Exchange, contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our licensed 1031 Exchange professionals. We offer free consultations that can be conducted over the phone, via web, or in person to accommodate your preferences.

During the consultation, our experienced professionals can provide you with valuable insights and information specific to your situation. They can address any questions or concerns you may have about DSTs, guide you through the process, and help you make informed decisions regarding your 1031 Exchange.

To schedule your free consultation, please visit us at We look forward to assisting you with your DST and 1031 Exchange needs.

General Disclosure

Not an offer to buy, nor a solicitation to sell securities. All investing involves risk of loss of some or all principal invested. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Speak to your finance and/or tax professional prior to investing. Any information provided is for informational purposes only.

Securities offered through Emerson Equity LLC Member: FINRA/SIPC. Only available in states where Emerson Equity LLC is registered. Emerson Equity LLC is not affiliated with any other entities identified in this communication. 

1031 Risk Disclosure: 

  • There’s no guarantee any strategy will be successful or achieve investment objectives; 
  • All real estate investments have the potential to lose value during the life of the investments; 
  • The income stream and depreciation schedule for any investment property may affect the property owner’s income bracket and/or tax status. An unfavorable tax ruling may cancel deferral of capital gains and result in immediate tax liabilities; 
  • All financed real estate investments have potential for foreclosure; 
  • These 1031 exchanges are offered through private placement offerings and are illiquid securities. There is no secondary market for these investments. 
  • If a property unexpectedly loses tenants or sustains substantial damage, there is potential for suspension of cash flow distributions; 
  • Costs associated with the transaction may impact investors’ returns and may outweigh the tax benefits
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Article written by Paul Chastain

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Perch Financial LLC and Emerson Equity LLC do not provide legal or tax advice. Securities offered through Emerson Equity LLC Member FINRA/SIPC and MSRB registered. Emerson Equity LLC is unaffiliated with any entity herein. 1031 Risk Disclosure:


  • There is no guarantee that any strategy will be successful or achieve investment objectives;
  • Potential for property value loss – All real estate investments have the potential to lose value during the life of the investments;
  • Change of tax status – The income stream and depreciation schedule for any investment property may affect the property owner’s income bracket and/or tax status. An unfavorable tax ruling may cancel deferral of capital gains and result in immediate tax liabilities;
  • Potential for foreclosure – All financed real estate investments have potential for foreclosure; ·Illiquidity – Because 1031 exchanges are commonly offered through private placement offerings and are illiquid securities. There is no secondary market for these investments;
  • Reduction or Elimination of Monthly Cash Flow Distributions – Like any investment in real estate, if a property unexpectedly loses tenants or sustains substantial damage, there is potential for suspension of cash flow distributions;
  • Impact of fees/expenses – Costs associated with the transaction may impact investors’ returns and may outweigh the tax benefits

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