How to Find an Owner of an LLC

By Tom Speranza, J.D.

How to Find an Owner of an LLC

By Tom Speranza, J.D.

A limited liability company (LLC) is a type of business entity that can be formed in any of the 50 states. An LLC typically does not pay income tax as a separate entity but instead passes its profits and losses through to its owners, known as members, who then report them on their individual tax returns. LLCs are a popular form of business entity because they are usually easier to form and maintain than corporations (less paperwork, fewer filings) and have more flexibility in the way they are structured.

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When would you need to find an LLC member?

There may be times when you are dealing with an LLC or considering a transaction with one when it would it helpful to know exactly who owns it. Here are a few examples of such situations:

  • If you are hiring an LLC to provide a crucial service to your home or business, you may want to know who owns it so that you can research how reputable the company is.
  • If you're a landlord signing an office or store lease with an LLC tenant, you'll want to know who owns the LLC to confirm that you're dealing with a reputable company that will pay the rent. Conversely, if you're a tenant signing a lease with an LLC landlord, you should find out who owns the company to assure yourself that the landlord's obligations will be fulfilled.
  • If you are a vendor or supplier selling products to an LLC that wants trade credit, finding out who owns the LLC may allow you to determine the creditworthiness of your potential customer.
  • If an LLC owes you money, figuring out who the owners are may give you additional people or assets to pursue for payment.
  • If you purchased a product or service from an LLC and you're now having problems with it, you may want to involve the owners to help resolve your issues.
  • If you are thinking about investing in a business operating as an LLC, the identity of the owners is part of the information you'll need to determine whether the new venture will be successful.

Where can you find an LLC member?

Figuring out the identity of an LLC's members can be difficult because the laws of most states do not require the business to disclose that information in order for the LLC to do business. However, there are some places where you can begin your search.

The LLC's Website or Office

The first and easiest place to look is the business's website. There may be an About Us page or a personnel directory that identifies the LLC's owners. If the website has a phone number or contact form, you can also ask for the information by calling or sending an email.

State Entity Databases

Although it's not guaranteed that you'll find the business owner's name in the state entity database, it's still a good place to look. Most states require only basic information—such as the LLC's name, purpose, and registered agent—be included in the LLC's formation documents. The documents might be signed by a member, but they don't need to be—a third-party organizer such as a law firm can form an LLC on behalf of its client.

Some states require the initial managers of an LLC to be identified in the formation documents, if the LLC will be manager-managed, but state law does not require a manager to also be a member.

Many states require LLCs to file annual reports, but these documents usually don't include a list of the current members or require a member's signature. Even if an LLC's annual report contains information about one or more members, most states charge a fee to obtain a copy.

Most states permit certain professionals—such as doctors, lawyers, and architects—to form LLCs known as professional limited liability companies (PLLCs). Because PLLCs have members providing important services to the public, some states do require disclosure of the members in the initial formation documents or annual reports. Check with your state's online entity database to confirm whether that information is available.

Business Data Firms

Private companies such as Dun & Bradstreet that sell credit data about businesses can sometimes find out who owns a business if you pay a fee. A website such as LinkedIn can also be a method for finding out who an LLC's members are, but keep in mind that LinkedIn profiles can be configured to keep certain information private.

Trade Associations

If the LLC you're dealing with belongs to an industry trade association, the organization may have an online directory that provides information about its member companies.

Even if an LLC's ownership isn't legally required to be public information, some persistence and ingenuity can get you the answers you need.

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.