How to Use a Personal Name in an LLC

by Joseph Nicholson
    Sign contacts on behalf of the company to avoid individual liability.

    Sign contacts on behalf of the company to avoid individual liability.

    David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images

    An LLC is a distinct business entity organized under state law. It can register a name that is not already in use and is not so similar to a name in use by a competitor as to cause consumer confusion. You must be careful, however, that you keep your business distinct from your personal life to comply with IRS rules and to maintain the protection from liability.

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    Step 1

    Submit your articles of organization with your personal name followed by "Limited Liability Company," or an abbreviation like LLC. State law generally requires that the registered name of your LLC specify the entity type. The state will conduct a search of other registered names and should approve the articles if the name is available and the other requirements are met. Alternatively, you could register under a different name and register a fictitious name (DBA) in your personal name.

    Step 2

    Apply for an EIN in the name of the company. If you pay employees, the IRS requires the company have its own federal employer identification number. This will also be necessary to file your taxes if your LLC has more than one member.

    Step 3

    Open a bank account in the name of the company. Make sure the primary name on the account is the registered name of the business. If you pay employees, the company's withholding tax must be paid from this account. Alcohol, tobacco, firearms and certain federal excise taxes must also be paid from this account.

    Step 4

    Sign contracts that obligate the company in the name of the company. Make sure your signature in is your capacity as a member of the company and on behalf of the company.

    Tips & Warnings

    • Keep your personal finances and the company's finances separate. Pay yourself in lump sums and do not use the company's money for personal expenses. Failing to take these precautions could make you individually liable for the company's debts.
    • Business names are subject to trademark law. If a competitor is already using a name substantially similar to yours, your name may be a violation of its trademark. Approval by the state is not necessarily an affirmation that your name does not violate a trademark.

    About the Author

    Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.

    Photo Credits

    • David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images