How Many Owners Can an LLC Have? (Updated Answer)

Delina Chantel Yasmeh
Published by Delina Chantel Yasmeh | Author
Last updated: June 20, 2024
Methodology
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Understanding how business ownership works is an essential component of establishing an LLC.

A single-member LLC is a limited liability company with only one owner, while multiple-member LLCs have more than one owner.

After years of experience as a business consultant and conducting extensive research in the realm of LLC formation, I have encountered numerous inquiries about the optimal number of owners in an LLC.

I’ve spent countless hours studying legal frameworks and consulting with industry experts, including business attorneys and fellow consultants, to provide valuable insights.

This article will show how many owners can be involved in an LLC.

Quick Summary

  • An LLC can have one or more owners, known as members, with the flexibility to include individuals or entities such as corporations or other LLCs, depending on state regulations.
  • The LLC's operating agreement can determine ownership percentages and the distribution of profits and losses among members, highlighting the importance of this document in managing the LLC.
  • According to IRS statistics, there are approximately 21.6 million LLCs in the United States, reflecting a year-over-year increase since 2004, with many opting for this structure due to advantages such as tax benefits and liability protections.
  • I always inform my clients that multiple-member LLCs typically offer better personal liability protection compared to single-member LLCs due to their recognition as separate legal entities from their owners.


How Many Owners Can an LLC Have?

Drawing from our experience, a limited liability company (LLC) can have one or more owners, commonly known as members.

The flexibility of an LLC allows for a single individual or multiple individuals, as well as other entities, to become owners.

The number of owners can vary depending on the specific regulations and requirements set forth by the state in which the LLC is formed.

The LLC members are responsible for electing the members who will serve on the LLC’s board of directors (if the LLC has a board of directors) and appointing the LLC’s manager if the LLC does not have a board of directors.

We recommend consulting with legal and business professionals to understand the specific guidelines and implications of ownership structures within an LLC.

Seeking professional advice can aid in making informed decisions regarding the optimal ownership arrangement for an LLC.

What Is An LLC Member?

Workers smiling at the camera after discussion about the number of owners an llc can have

An LLC member refers to an individual or entity that holds ownership in a limited liability company (LLC).

The structure can be a manager-managed LLC, where designated managers handle operations, or where all members participate in decision-making.

In my experience with a member-managed LLC, the key benefit is the limited liability protection it offers. This protection ensures that my personal assets are safe from the company's debts and liabilities, providing a significant safeguard for my personal finances against the business's financial issues.

LLC members typically contribute capital, share in profits, and have a say in the company's decision-making processes.

However, it's important to note that an LLC member's specific rights and responsibilities can vary depending on the terms outlined in the operating agreement.

Who Can and Can Not Be an LLC Member?

Generally, anyone can be a member of an LLC.

From our experience, eligibility to become an LLC owner or member varies depending on legal requirements and specific circumstances. Generally, individuals, corporations, or other LLCs can be LLC members.

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However, we noticed that there are restrictions in place that may prevent certain entities from being LLC members.

These restrictions may include professional licensing requirements, such as in the medical or legal fields, or limitations imposed by state regulations [1].

Furthermore, most banks will not allow businesses that are not organized as corporations to become LLC members.

In addition, some states have laws that restrict who can be a member of an LLC. For example, in Alabama, only businesses organized as corporations or limited partnerships can be members of an LLC.

Single Member or Multiple Member LLCs

Office members gathered around a laptop having a discussion about what type to choose for a mental health professional

There are approximately 21.6 million LLCs in the United States, a figure that has been showing a consistent year-over-year increase since 2004 according to IRS.

Within this broad landscape, LLCs can be categorized into single-member LLCs, which are owned by just one person, and multiple-member LLCs, which comprise more than one member.

Despite the availability of single-member LLCs, the majority of these entities are multiple-member LLCs.

This trend aligns with the observation that most businesses involve more than one owner, thus opting for the collaborative structure provided by multiple-member LLCs.

These choices are often influenced by the specific advantages offered by LLCs, such as certain tax benefits and liability protections.

However, there are some single-member LLCs. For example, many people who own rental property form single-member LLCs for each piece of property they own.

Based on our experience, this helps to protect personal assets from liability if someone is injured on the property.

You should be aware of a few advantages and disadvantages of single-member and multi-member LLCs.

Some of the advantages of single-member LLCs include:

  • Single-member LLCs are easier to form than multi-member LLCs. This is because there are fewer paperwork and filing requirements.
  • Single-member LLCs are less expensive to form and operate than multi-member LLCs.
  • Single-member LLCs are easier to manage than multiple-member LLCs.

Some of the disadvantages of single-member LLCs include:

  • Single-member LLCs offer less protection from personal liability than multiple-member LLCs. Single-member LLCs are not considered separate legal entities from their owners.
  • Single-member LLCs are not as common as multiple-member LLCs, so it may be more difficult to find resources and assistance when you need it

Some of the advantages of a multi-member LLC include:

  • Multiple-member LLCs offer more protection from personal liability than single-member LLCs. This is because multiple-member LLCs are considered separate legal entities from their owners.
  • Multiple-member LLCs are more common than single ones, so it is easier to find resources and assistance when needed.

Some of the disadvantages of a multi-member LLC include:

  • Multiple-member LLCs are more difficult to form than single-member LLCs. This is because there are more paperwork and filing requirements.
  • Multiple-member LLCs are more expensive to form and operate than single-member LLCs.
  • Multiple-member LLCs are more difficult to manage than single-member LLCs.

How Are LLC Members Paid?

An office worker paying another person

LLC members are paid in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Cash
  • Check
  • Stock
  • Partnership interest
  • Royalties
  • Services

The LLC’s operating agreement generally sets forth the payment method.

This agreement is a document that sets forth the rules and regulations for an LLC. It should be created when the LLC is formed.

The operating agreement should include provisions for the following:

  • How the LLC will be managed
  • The rights and responsibilities of the members
  • How the members will be paid
  • How the LLC will be dissolved
  • Any other important information about the LLC

An LLC operating agreement is not required by law, but we recommend having one as it can help prevent member disputes and ensure that the LLC operates smoothly.

Ownership Percentages

The ownership percentages of the members of an LLC can be outlined in the operating agreement. The ownership percentages determine how the profits and losses of the LLC will be divided among the members [2].

The ownership percentages can be equal, or they can be unequal.

For example, if there are two members of an LLC and one LLC member owns 60% of the LLC and the other member owns 40%, then the first member would be entitled to 60% of the profits and losses of the LLC, and the second member would be entitled to 40%.

If there is no operating agreement, then the LLC ownership limits or percentages will be determined by the law of the state where the LLC is formed.

You can also change your LLC ownership percentage.

Forming An LLC

Office members joining hands

An LLC is a type of business entity that offers limited liability to its owners. In other words, the personal assets of the LLC’s owners are protected from business debts and liabilities.

This is different from a sole proprietorship or a general partnership, where the owners are personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the business [3].

To create an LLC, you must file the necessary paperwork with your state government. This process is called “forming an LLC.”

The paperwork required to form an LLC varies from state to state. However, most states require that you file an “ Articles of Organization” or a “Certificate of Formation.”

We recommend visiting the website of your state’s Secretary of State to find more information on the specific paperwork required to form an LLC.

FAQs

What is the Minimum Number of Members an LLC Can Have?

The minimum number of members an LLC can have varies depending on the jurisdiction. In many states, including California and Delaware, a single individual can form a single-member LLC, while others may require at least two or more members.

Can an LLC Member Be an Entity?

An LLC member can indeed be an entity. In LLCs, an entity refers to a legal structure such as a corporation, partnership, or another LLC. By being an entity within the LLC, the member gains legal recognition and the ability to contribute capital, among other benefits.

How Do You Split Ownership of an LLC?

You can split ownership of an LLC by determining the desired ownership percentages among the members and then drafting an operating agreement that outlines each member's ownership percentage, rights, and responsibilities. Consult with a qualified legal professional to ensure compliance with relevant laws.


References:

  1. https://www.berkmansolutions.com/articles/entities/business-entities
  2. https://www.findlaw.com/smallbusiness/incorporation-and-legal-structures/making-llc-operating-agreements.html
  3. https://kpu.pressbooks.pub/cdntax/chapter/__unknown__-2/

About The Author

Author
Delina Chantel Yasmeh, J.D./Tax LL.M, specializes in Mergers and Acquisitions at Deloitte and PwC, managing billion-dollar transactions. Educated in Accountancy at California State University and holding advanced degrees from Loyola Law School, she is highly skilled in tax law. Delina also dedicates time to pro bono work for women and children.
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Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
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