As a small business owner, you may want to protect yourself from a lawsuit. Nowadays, a Limited Liability Company is the best way to do this if you meet certain conditions.
In general terms, an LLC can be formed by one person who has 100% rights over the entity's assets and liabilities rather than having them shared with other partners. But what if something happens to that person?
How do you find LLC owners?
This article provides a few methods for tracking down the owner of an LLC, depending on the state where it was formed.
Methods to Find An LLC Owner
To find the LLC owner, you may want to do some detective work and seek legal advice from a law firm. Depending on the state, you can use a few different methods, such as a business name search.
1. Searching the Secretary of State's Website
You can access the public information on the state's official website by filing a public records request. Each state has its Secretaries of State office, which keeps track of business filings on the state website.
Most states require only basic information, but you can also search on the secretary of state website for an LLC's Administrative Dissolution, Annual Report, Cancellation, Conversion, Dormancy, Merger/Reinstatement by filing status here.
Keep in mind that this will only work if the LLC has already filed these documents with the secretary of state.
Another way to search for the LLC's owner is to look through the secretary of state's database of registered agents. This will tell you the name of the company or individual who is listed as the registered agent on the LLC's formation documents.
However, this information may not be up-to-date if the registered agent has since changed.
2. Searching the DMV
If you have an EIN, you can search for the LLC's owners at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the DMV website.
Depending on your state, you may be able to do a business search online for any cars registered to that LLC by business name or address.
An alternative is to call them up and request a list of vehicles registered to the LLC.
3. Brand Registry, Corporate Name, and Trademark Searches
If you have the LLC's name and address, you can run a trading name and trademark search to find out if any other companies have the same business name.
This is because it could be that someone else just happens to have the same LLC name without them being part of the same company or group - so they should be fine to continue operating with the same name.
You can even run a reverse trade name or trademark search if you have an idea of the owner's name but not their address.
You can also check if the LLC belonged to an industry trade association because if it did, then you could access the online directory and obtain the information from search results.
4. Personal Property Tax Database Searches
Some states have personal property tax databases which list the LLC's asset owner. This could include things like cars, boats, or real estate.
However, this information may not be up-to-date if the LLC has since sold or transferred its initially registered assets.
5. Conducting a Regulatory License Search
If you're looking for an LLC owner that's engaged in a regulated industry (such as healthcare, insurance, or banking), a search option is their regulatory license.
This will give you a list of all the business entities in the state that are licensed to do business in that particular industry and may help you narrow down your search.
6. Searching Financial Institutions and Fictitious Names
If you know the name of the financial institution where the LLC is a business operating, you can do an LLC name search by searching for that name and the word "LLC" to see if they have any records or if they have annual report filings.
7. Visiting a Government Office in Person
Suppose the online search option did not work out, and you know the name of the city or state where the Limited Liability Companies are located. In that case, it may be faster to visit a government office in person and submit an information request form to access their records.
This will be more helpful if you're looking for an LLC that is no longer active.
8. Contacting the LLC's Members
In case you can't find the LLC owner using any of the methods described above, your last resort is to contact the Limited Liability Company's members and ask them who owns the LLC.
This can be a time-consuming process, as the members may not be willing to share that information with you. However, it's worth a try if you've exhausted all other options and you need the owner's contact information.
Similar Article: Can an LLC Have Multiple Owners
What if I Can’t Find the Owner of an LLC?
If you can't find the LLC owner through any of these methods, your last resort is to contact the LLC's members and ask them who owns the business entity.
Can LLC Owners Be Anonymous?
In some states, an LLC owner can remain anonymous. However, their name and address will be listed in public records in most states, alongside their registered agent.
To summarize, finding LLC owners can be done in many different ways. However, if you don't know the name or address of the owner, it can be challenging to uncover this information on your own.
You can access the state websites or use a business finder with the basic LLC information using either a search icon or a search bar.
If you have an EIN, you can search for the LLC's owner at the Department of Motor Vehicles or do a business name/trademark search online.
You can also use a personal property tax database search bar if you know the owner's name but not their address.
If you know the name of the financial institution through which the LLC is doing business, you can use a search bar and enter that name and "LLC" to find out who owns it.
You can also visit a state's office in person and fill out a public record requests to access their public record information.
Try contacting the LLC's members or a registered agent to learn more. If none of these options work, you may be stuck contacting the owner through personal email or by calling them directly.