Tasks like naming the business and creating a logo are obvious, but what about the less-heralded, equally important steps? Whether it's determining your business structure or crafting a detailed marketing strategy, the workload can quickly pile up. Rather than spinning your wheels and guessing at where to start, follow this 10-step checklist to transform your business from a lightbulb above your head to a real entity.
Articles of organization are short, simple documents. In fact, you can usually prepare your own in just a few minutes by filling in the blanks and checking the boxes on a form provided by your state's filing office. Typically, you must provide only your LLC's name, its address, and sometimes the names of all of the owners -- called members. Generally, all of the LLC owners may prepare and sign the articles, or they can appoint just one person to do so.
Need a simple, non-legalese “executor" definition? An executor is the person who handles a deceased person's estate, making sure all property is distributed according to the decedent's wishes and that all debts are paid. Usually, executors are close family members of the deceased—spouses, children, parents, or siblings—but the person writing a will (the “testator") can choose anyone to fulfill this role.
The first step in forming an LLC is to file your company’s Articles of Incorporation with the state in which you are looking to establish your business. Once this has been completed, it is recommended that you take the time to develop a formal set of documents that will explicitly outline the ownership and management structure of the business, as well as establish your initial bank accounts.
Despite being a relatively new option, the limited liability company (LLC) is now one of the most popular business structures among smaller organizations. While allowing business owners to remain free from a great deal of the regulations imposed on other types of companies, it still provides limited liability protection for its owners (members). This means that the personal assets of an LLC's ownership cannot be collected to fulfill the debts of the business.
If you want to separate your personal liability from your company's liability, you may want to consider forming one of several types of corporations. This makes a business a separate entity apart from its owners, and, therefore, corporations can own property, assume liability, pay taxes, enter into contracts, sue and be sued like any other individual. One of the most common structures for small businesses, however, is the limited liability corporation (LLC). This hybrid structure has the legal protections of a corporation while allowing for the tax benefits of a partnership.
Since limited liability companies can be a pass-through entity, owners are taxed on their personal income. S-Corp shareholders are taxed personally. The S-Corp, however, is not. C-Corp income is taxed at the corporate level first, then again at the personal level. This is called "double taxation." Non-Profits are only taxed once and can write off most of their expenses. Sole Proprietors are taxed only on their personal tax return.
Businesses of all sizes are trying to find news ways to do their part for the environment by implementing greener practices. Unfortunately, many of the more eco-friendly options available today are also significantly more expensive, so business owners need someone like you who can advise them on how they can change their process without sacrificing their bottom line.
Please note: We believe accurate, plain-English legal information should help you solve many of your own legal problems. But it's not a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you want the help of a trained professional-- and we'll always point out situations in which we think that's a good idea-- consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.
Maryland For Corporations: "Company", if it is not preceded by the word "and" or a symbol for the word "and"; "Corporation", "Incorporated" or "Limited" or abbreviations; for Limited liability companies: "limited liability company", "L.L.C.", "LLC", "L.C.", or "LC"; for Limited liability partnerships: "limited liability partnership", "L.L.P." or "LLP"; for Limited partnerships: "limited partnership", "L.P.", or "LP"; for Limited liability limited partnerships: "limited liability limited partnership", "L.L.L.P.", or "LLLP"; for Professional corporations: "chartered", "chtd.", "professional association", "P.A.", "professional corporation", or "P.C." Maryland Code – Corporations and Associations § 1-502
For businesses in industries like construction or real estate, where unforeseen circumstances and hazardous conditions may hold the owner responsible, consider starting an LLC. The protection gained means you will not be held personally liable, protecting you and your family from litigation or the debts of the business. An LLC may not be the best choice for business owners who plan on raising capital through outside investment. LLCs are not public structures and do not have shareholders, so taking a company public is not an option either. However, in the event that you'd like to take your business public you may switch to a public legal structure, like a C corporation, later on.
In the corporations of real estate law, the ownership or membership may be vested either in the real property or in a legal or natural person, depending on the corporation type. In many cases, the membership or ownership of such corporation is obligatory for a person or property that fulfils the legal requirements for membership or wishes to engage in certain activities.