How Do I Register an LLC for Multiple Members?

By Michelle Kaminsky, J.D.

How Do I Register an LLC for Multiple Members?

By Michelle Kaminsky, J.D.

A limited liability company (LLC) is a legal business entity that provides several benefits to its owners, also called members. Among these benefits are limited liability for the debts of the company and pass-through federal taxation, through which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes business income on members' individual returns. Registering an LLC for multiple members requires filing articles of organization and paying applicable fees to the state agency that regulates businesses.

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Here's the process you need to follow.

1. Complete the articles of organization.

After you choose the state in which you will form the LLC, visit the website of the state agency that handles business registrations—usually the Secretary of State—to download the paperwork you need to fill out, including the articles of organization.

The form is generally only one or two pages long and the information required varies by state. Generally, you will need to provide your business's name, address, and purpose, as well as the name and address of the LLC's registered agent, which is either a person or business that agrees to accept service of process and other legal documents on behalf of your business. You may serve as the company's registered agent as long as you have a physical address within the state. The articles of organization must also list the names and addresses of all of the organizing members of the LLC. If you are filing a single-member LLC, the state requires only one name on the form.

2. Write an operating agreement.

You generally do not need to file an operating agreement with the state, but it's a good idea to have one drawn up even before you file the articles of incorporation so that all LLC members are clear on their rights and responsibilities.

An operating agreement generally covers the following subjects:

  • Management of the LLC, whether it be one or more of the members or an outside hire
  • Procedure for adding and removing members
  • Profit and loss distribution among members
  • Percentages of ownership interests
  • Voting procedures

Without an operating agreement, state laws govern LLC operations—and those may not coincide with what's best for your company or what you would want.

For example, absent an operating agreement in place, many states require the approval of all existing members of an LLC before adding a new member. Your operating agreement, however, may permit for a simple majority vote or some other process.

You may amend your operating agreement later. Include the procedures for doing so within the agreement as well.

3. File the articles of organization and pay the filing fee.

Every state sets its own fees for LLC registration, but they generally range from $50 to $500. State requirements also vary as to whether you may submit the form and fee online, by mail or fax, or in person. Check the website of the Secretary of State for information on fees and accepted submission methods.

Note that, upon filing, some states also require additional payments and/or paperwork. California, for instance, requires that all LLCs doing business in the state pay an annual franchise tax.

Although the basic process of registering a multiple-member LLC follows a similar pattern across states, it is still critical to know your state's specific procedures.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.