Why Your LLC Needs an Operating Agreement

Web Admin - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

illinois corporate attorney llcsLimited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a form of business structure that allows owners to have some of the benefits of a standard corporation, but with more flexibility to control the particulars of the business. This flexibility makes it important to make thoughtful choices about things like voting rules and members’ rights and responsibilities at the start of the formation process. That is where the LLC operating agreement comes in. While operating agreements are not required by law in Illinois, it is still highly beneficial to have them because of the extra control that they provide.

What is an Operating Agreement?

An operating agreement is a document that controls the structure of the company and the members’ relationships. This can mean many different things, but operating agreements often include provisions related to:

  • - Each member’s percentage of ownership;
  • - Management of the LLC- Member Managed v. Manager Managed;
  • - The rights and responsibilities of the different members;
  • - Voting powers and dispute resolution mechanisms;
  • - Voting and meeting procedures; and
  • - Conditions relating to the sale of the LLC and the members’ related rights.

The Benefits of an Operating Agreement

Given the importance of the types of provisions that operating agreements contain, each LLC should have one, even if it is not technically required by law. The law forgoes this requirement because the legislature drafted a set of default rules to apply to LLCs for cases in which the members decide not to draft an operating agreement. While people often rely on these default rules, that is not the best strategy for their business. The major benefit of the LLC is the freedom and control provided by the operating agreement, so skipping the drafting of the operating agreement defeats the purpose.

This is especially problematic because often times the default rules do not make the most sense for a particular business. For instance, most actions under the default rules require only a simple majority vote of the members to be approved. Drafting an operating agreement would allow the members to introduce supermajority votes and other control provisions on more important issues. Similarly, another central issue to any business is the distribution of profits.

In Illinois, the default rule is that distributions must be made in equal shares to all of the members. This rule seldom makes sense for businesses in which different members have invested different amounts. People often want to tie their distribution to the members’ stakes in the company, which requires a separate provision in the operating agreement. Of course, these are just some of the many choices that operating agreements allow LLC members to make about their business and its structure.

If you are in the process of forming an LLC and need an operating agreement tailored to your business’s specific concerns, contact an Illinois corporate law attorney. We help businesses across the northwest suburbs in towns like Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Schaumburg, and Inverness.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.

Registered Agents for Business: Why You Need One

Web Admin - Friday, October 18, 2013

In most states, including Illinois, business law requires corporate owners to have a registered agent represent their corporation or limited liability company (LLC). A registered agent is the third-party who is listed in the same state in which the business was established. This go-between is chosen to receive service of process notices, communication from the Secretary of State, tax forms, and lawsuits on behalf of the business.

According to the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act (805 ILCS 180/1-35), a registered agent’s name and location must be included in the paperwork filed with the state. This allows the public to access information about a business and to send any important documents to the agent registered for the company. This is especially useful for small businesses without a physical address. The state must have a physical address on file in case the business is served with a lawsuit.

How Registered Agents Help in Illinois

Not only is a registered agent the third-party representative for a business, but they stand as barrier between a business and the state government. This allows a business owner to focus solely on their corporate front. A registered agent in Illinois will accept tax or legal documents privately so business owners do not have to do so in front of clients.

An additional benefit is that a registered agent’s office address will remain the same even if a business moves to a new location. With a registered agent, there is no need to file more paperwork with the state for every Illinois business relocation. Opening a new business office in another state, however, presents more challenges. Every state requires a business to maintain a registered agent and registered office in that state.

Lawsuits can be complex and have serious consequences for missed deadlines. A registered agent is a qualified professional who knows the laws and regulations for the State of Illinois. Assigning the role of registered agent to a law firm can ensure that service of process is properly received and handled.

If you are interested in appointing a qualified law professional as your registered agent, contact a Palatine corporate law attorney today. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a business lawyer serving the Northwest Suburban areas including Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and beyond.

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