Corporations offer liability protection for shareholders by providing a separate legal entity that divides personal debts and assets from business debts and assets. Though this is an attractive structure for many businesses, you must file appropriate forms, including articles of incorporation, to operate a corporation legally, and copies of these forms are available from the state of Michigan.
Articles of Incorporation
To form a corporation, you must create articles of incorporation. These articles contain very basic information about your business, including a name that must contain a word or abbreviation such as “Corporation” or “Inc.” to indicate your company’s corporate status. Your articles must also contain details about your corporation's ownership, such as the number of shares you intend to issue and whether those shares will be all of one class or of multiple classes. Since your business must have a registered agent residing in Michigan, you must list this registered agent in your articles, too. If you want your corporation to last only for a certain amount of time, you can put a termination date in your articles, or you can state that your corporation has a perpetual term, meaning it exists until it is terminated.
Even after you create articles of incorporation, your business is not recognized as a corporation until you file your articles with the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. You must also pay a filing fee, which varies depending on the number of authorized shares you create for your company. Corporations with millions of authorized shares pay a substantially higher fee than corporations with under 60,000 shares. You can mail your fee and articles to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ post office box in Lansing or you can submit it in person to their office in Okemos. You can also file these online through the Michigan Electronic Filing System.
If you want to find out whether a business has articles of incorporation on file with the state, you can use the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ website to search their database. The database contains records of corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships that are authorized to conduct business in Michigan. You can search the department’s database by name, key word or identification number. Once you have found the correct business, you can view the business’ status and images of documents that business filed with the state, including its articles of incorporation and annual reports.
You may request certified copies of your business’ articles of incorporation, or another business’ articles, by completing a Certification and Copies Request with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The request form requires your name, contact information and billing information, as well as the identification numbers and entity names of the businesses for which you are requesting document copies. You must also specify that you want copies of the articles of incorporation, though you can request copies of all documents filed with the state.