Forming an LLC is not particularly difficult. While some people feel more comfortable having their attorney or accountant prepare necessary documents, a frugal entrepreneur can file all required paperwork without undue stress. Since LLCs are authorized by state, not federal, governments, the form required may differ from state-to-state. However, differing form layouts still require similar information from the filer. Gathering and preparing the correct information helps you complete the form properly.
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Names of LLC Filing Forms
Form names sometimes vary in different states. Most states call these forms "articles of organization." Other states may call this form the "certificate of organization." In either case, the required information is similar, usually identical in all states. However, it is wise to assume nothing. Download an online form or get a copy from your Secretary of State, or appropriate agency, to see exactly how your state wants your LLC information displayed.
Business Name and Address
Although some forms may differ, all articles of organization require the name of the new LLC. Always check with the Secretary of State's office to be sure the name you've selected is available and not similar to another LLC, corporation or competing business. You will also need to supply the physical address of the LLC. In most states, you must have a "brick and mortar" address. Even if you are starting an e-commerce business or expect a large volume of incoming mail, post office boxes are not usually accepted as a legal LLC address.
Registered Agent Information
You'll need to list the name and address of the LLC's "registered agent." This is usually the company's attorney, but it need not be a lawyer. This person and address will receive formal communications and registered mail. Should you become involved in legal actions, whether plaintiff or defendant, this is the address that will receive "return of service" documents. This is why most LLCs and corporations use their legal counsel as their registered agent.
Most forms require you to indicate the purpose of your new LLC. The overwhelming majority of filers list this as "any legal purpose" to avoid restricting LLC future business ventures. Even if your new business has a single specific purpose now, you may choose to diversify and increase your operating areas in the future. If you restrict your LLC to one or two purposes, you'll need to create one or more additional LLCs or corporations in the coming years.
Articles of organization usually request at least one piece of management information. You normally choose whether all owners -- called "members" in an LLC -- or one person (managing member) will be responsible for handling day-to-day operations. If a managing member is noted, many states require the name and address of this person included in the form.
Some state LLC forms require that you either name a projected date the LLC will dissolve or that it will continue in perpetuity until the members vote for dissolution. This may sound a bit odd, but, remember, many LLCs are formed in lieu of a standard partnership structure. Many partnerships are formed for a specific purpose or project only. These are typically scheduled to dissolve after project completion. Should you form an LLC for this reason, you and the other owners may already have a date in mind. Otherwise, select the open-ended operating option.