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.
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LLCs have fewer ongoing requirements compared to their corporation counterparts. For example, an LLC is not required to keep minutes or hold annual meetings. An LLC also does not have a board of directors, and isn't is held to the same record keeping standards of a corporation. Keep in mind that the state of incorporation in will have its own set of annual requirements. That includes filing the required business licenses and permits, which vary from state to state. Be sure to check in with your Secretary of State to ensure you don't accidentally miss any required filings.
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For over 40 years Nolo has been publishing affordable, plain English books, forms and software on a wide range of legal and business issues, including estate planning, small business, personal finance, housing, divorce and intellectual property. Everything we publish is regularly revised and improved by our staff of lawyer-editors, to make sure that it's the best it can be. We pay close attention to changes in the law and we'll make sure your online legal documents stay legally up to date.
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Your name must be unique, and not deceptively similar, to any other trademarked name or business. It is also required that your name not be used to intentionally misrepresent the products or services you offer. For LLCs, nearly all states will also require you to add a signifier of your limited liability status, such as "LLC" or "L.L.C." to the end of your company's name. You may be able to operate under a name other than your formal LLC name by applying for and using a dba.
The application required for incorporating as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is called the Articles of Incorporation (also referred to as a Certificate of Incorporation). This document contains basic information about the company, its owners, and its directors. Depending on your state of incorporation, there may also be state-level fees or taxes that must be paid.
If the LLC will be Manager governed, an elected set of Managers (who can be people other than Members), will make the business decisions. Under this structure, the business will more closely resemble a traditional corporation, with the Managers acting as directors, and the owners acting as shareholders. If an LLC elects to be governed by Managers, this decision must be stated in the Articles of Organization.
The articles of organization also should include information about how your LLC will be managed. You need to indicate whether the members of the LLC will do hands-on management or if there will be hired management. Another requirement is to discuss how long the LLC will be in existence (there is no limit on this, so it is fine to say in perpetuity).
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After settling on a name, you must prepare and file "articles of organization" with your state's LLC filing office. While most states use the term "articles of organization" to refer to the basic document required to create an LLC, some states call it a "certificate of formation" or "certificate of organization." To learn about the specific requirements of forming an LLC in your state, choose your state from the list below:
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