LLC members are not personally responsible for the company's debt or liability. S-Corp shareholders are not personally responsible for the company's debt or liability. C-Corp shareholders are not personally responsible for the company's debt or liability. Non-Profit directors are not personally responsible for organizational debt or liability. Sole Proprietors are personally responsible for debt and liability.
The governing document of the LLC is called an operating agreement, and it is within this document that the members lay out all important provisions, such as standards for LLC governance, ownership parameters, and rules around member changes (adding or removing members, or what happens in case of death or incapacity of a member). The operating agreement is an internal document and is an agreement amongst the members or owners, which means it is not recorded with the state.
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 a few states, you must take an additional step to make your company official: You must publish a simple notice in a local newspaper, stating that you intend to form an LLC. You are required to publish the notice several times over a period of weeks and then submit an "affidavit of publication" to the LLC filing office. Your local newspaper should be able to help you with this filing.
After you've completed the steps described above, your LLC is official. But before you open your doors for business, you need to obtain the licenses and permits that all new businesses must have to operate. These may include a business license (sometimes also referred to as a "tax registration certificate"), a federal employer identification number, a sellers' permit, or a zoning permit. For more on business licenses and permits, see the Licenses & Permits for Your Business area of Nolo's website.
All states require potential LLC owners to file a substantial set of documents, typically called the Articles of Organization, in order to establish their business. We can take care of this process for you, saving you time, effort, and allowing you to focus on developing your business – not filing paperwork. Lean on our expertise to ensure all paperwork is filed correctly the first time.
The "mit beschränkter Haftung (mbH)" suffix (German: [ˈɛmbeːˌhaː], "with limited liability") is sometimes added to the name of a firm that already ends in "-gesellschaft" ("company"), e.g., "Mustermann Dental-Handelsgesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung" ("dental trading company with limited liability"), which would be abbreviated as "Mustermann Dental-Handelsgesellschaft mbH".