What are Articles of Organization for an LLC? | 101 Guide

Delina Chantel Yasmeh
Published by Delina Chantel Yasmeh | Author
Last updated: April 10, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Lou Viveros, Growth & Transition Advisor
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Understanding the significance of Articles of Organization or Certificate of Formation is vital for any aspiring business owner looking to establish a Limited Liability Company (LLC) successfully.

As an experienced entrepreneur with a passion for helping others start their businesses, I am well acquainted with the intricacies of this crucial document.

After months of meticulous research and consulting with legal experts in the field of business formation, I've compiled this comprehensive guide on Articles of Organization.

In this guide, I'll walk you through the fundamentals, significance, and step-by-step process of drafting and filing Articles of Organization for your LLC.

Quick Summary

  • The Articles of Organization are a crucial legal document for forming a limited liability company, outlining its key details, and establishing it as a separate legal entity.
  • The document must include information about the LLC's name, purpose, management structure, and members, providing liability protection and credibility.
  • The increasing trend in forming LLCs is underscored by Lextree's statistics, which show a 21% increase in the average annual growth of LLCs.
  • I always stress the importance and requirements of Articles of Organization, which are crucial for any entrepreneur aiming to establish a successful LLC, as they lay the foundation for legal and operational clarity.


What is an LLC Article of Organization?

Articles of Organization

The Articles of Organization are a critical legal document that lays the foundation for forming a limited liability company.

It serves as the LLC's official "birth certificate" and outlines essential details about the business.

This document establishes the LLC as a separate legal entity, providing owners with liability protection and separating personal assets from business debts.

It is also necessary for an LLC to file Articles of Organization if it needs to enter into contracts or sue and be sued in court.

Without these documents, your company cannot exist as a business entity separate from its members (owners) and managers.

The business environment is highly dynamic, as evidenced by the fact that in 2023, small businesses accounted for 1.2 million openings and 833,979 closings, as per the U.S. Small Business Administration [1]. This statistic highlights the critical nature of establishing a solid legal foundation for new businesses.

Importance of Articles Of Organization

Two coworkers discussing paperwork between each other

The Articles of Organization hold significant importance in the process of LLC formation.

This legal document establishes the existence of your business and contains key information about it.

Once the document is filed and approved, the LLC becomes a distinct legal entity, separate from its owners.

This separation ensures that the personal assets of LLC members are protected from business liabilities, providing the much-needed liability protection that differentiates LLCs from sole proprietorships and partnerships.

The increasing trend in forming LLCs is highlighted by Lextree's statistics, showing a significant 21% rise in the average annual growth of LLCs, underscoring their escalating attractiveness to business owners [2].

Contents of Articles Of Organization

A woman reading what LLC articles of organization contain

Many states require that LLC articles of organization contain general information about your LLC.

This information includes the LLC's name, LLC purpose (the reason it was created), and day-to-day operations.

Apart from these general requirements, state laws vary depending on the other information you should include in your articles of organization.

However, they all require you to name at least one member (owner) or manager who will manage day-to-day operations.

It is also a good idea for a limited liability company to include its LLC registered agent, street address, and any business type that the LLC is qualified to do business with.

When preparing the Articles of Organization for your LLC, include the following key components:

1. LLC Name And Purpose

First and foremost, your articles of organization must contain the business name of your LLC and its purpose.

Before you complete this step, check whether your desired LLC name is already taken.

2. Your Appointed LLC’s Registered Agent

Having a discussion with a registered agent

Designate a registered agent for your LLC.

The registered agent acts as the point of contact between the LLC and the state. They receive important legal documents, tax notices, and other official correspondence on behalf of the LLC.

This role can be performed by a member of the LLC, a law firm, a lawyer, or a family member. The required information for your registered agent section includes your appointed agent (i.e., service).

The section should also confirm that the company has received the statement of acceptance from the agent and that the company is maintaining this statement in its records.

3. Management Structure

A team leader discussing a certain file

The Articles of Organization form should have a provision about the LLC's management structure.

This section specifies whether the LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed.

In a member-managed limited liability partnership, all members have a say in business decisions. In a manager-managed LLC, only appointed managers have decision-making authority.

Whether your LLC has one or more managers, the section should include their names and addresses.

It also clearly states the roles and responsibilities of each manager or member involved.

4. Capital and Additional Contributions

A man transferring his assets to an LLC

LLC's capital contributions are each member's ownership interest in the form of money, property, or services.

Capital contributions must be included as a provision in your LLC's Articles of Organization and should describe these contributions and the agreed value of property contributed to the LLC.

The LLC Articles of Organization form should also clarify ownership interests and restrictions for each member if one or more members want to make additional contributions (contributions by adding capital or services).

Additional contributions are made with money, property, goods, labor, or other items instead of cash.

Other components of an Article of Organization will include:

  • Business Address
  • Duration of the LLC
  • Effective Date
  • Organizer Information

Step-by-Step Guide to Drafting Articles of Organization

Drafting business plan and marketing

Forming an LLC is a crucial step in establishing your business as a legal entity and gaining liability protection for your personal assets.

The process involves drafting Articles of Organization, which involves following the below  step-by-step guide:

1. Choosing a Suitable LLC Name

The first step in drafting Articles of Organization is to name your LLC by selecting a suitable business name.

Ensure that the chosen name complies with the state’s naming requirements. It must include the term "Limited Liability Company" or its abbreviation "LLC."

Conduct a thorough search to confirm that your desired name is unique and not already used by another business.

2. Selecting a Registered Agent

Designate a top registered agent service for your LLC. The agent is responsible for receiving legal documents and important communications for your business.

The agent must have a physical address in the LLC formation state, and they can be an individual or a business entity authorized to do business in the state.

3. Specifying the Business Address and Principal Place of Business

Provide the physical address of your LLC's principal place of business. This address is where your company conducts most of its activities.

If you have a different mailing address for official correspondence, include it.

4. Outlining the LLC's Purpose and Activities

Clearly state your LLC's purpose and primary activities in the Articles of Organization. This description should be specific and aligned with your business's services or products.

5. Determining the Management Structure (Member-Managed vs. Manager-Managed)

Specify the management structure of your LLC in the Articles of Organization. Choose between member-managed and manager-managed structures.

6. Defining Member Information and Ownership Percentage

Provide the names and addresses of all LLC members (owners) in the Articles of Organization.

Also, indicate the percentage of ownership held by each member. This information establishes the ownership structure of your business.

7. Outlining the LLC's Duration (Perpetual vs. Specific Period)

Decide on the duration of your LLC and include it in the Articles of Organization.

You can choose to operate the business indefinitely (perpetual) or for a specific period (limited duration). Most LLCs operate perpetually unless there's a specific reason for a limited duration.

8. Inclusion of Additional Provisions (Optional)

In addition to the required information, you may include optional provisions in the Articles of Organization.

These provisions could address how the LLC will be managed, how disputes among members will be resolved, and other customs rules and regulations.

Filing and Submission Process of Articles of Organization

Clipped papers and important documents

Filing the Articles of Organization with your State's Secretary of State is a legal requirement to establish an LLC in most states, such as Virginia [3].

To file Articles of Organization, you must submit the completed document to the appropriate state agency, often the Secretary of State's office or the State Corporation Commission.

Ensure that the document includes all required information and signatures to avoid any delays in processing.

Each state has its own filing fee for the Articles of Organization. Depending on the state, the fee typically ranges from $50 to $300.

Ensure that you know your state's specific fee and have the necessary payment method ready.

Most states offer multiple filing methods, such as online submission, mail, or in-person delivery.

Online filing is often the quickest and most convenient option, while mail and in-person options provide alternatives for those who prefer traditional methods.

Select the method that best suits your preferences and timeline.

After submitting the Articles of Organization and paying the filing fee, the processing time can vary depending on the state and workload.

You will often receive a confirmation or approval certificate once your LLC is officially formed.

This document serves as proof of your LLC's existence.

It allows you to open a business bank account, pay income or franchise taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and conduct other official business activities.

It is essential to follow the specific guidelines and requirements set by the state authorities to ensure proper registration.

Common Mistakes to Avoid on Articles of Organization

Comparing two documents

From incorrect member information to ambiguous purpose statements, several potential pitfalls could hinder your LLC's formation and operation.

Therefore, avoiding these common mistakes in the Articles of Organization is vital for forming a successful LLC:

Inaccurate or Unavailable LLC Name

Choosing the right LLC name is crucial to establishing your business identity. One common mistake is selecting a name already in use or too similar to an existing business.

Conduct a thorough name search before filing Articles of Organization to ensure availability and uniqueness [4]. Failure to do so may result in rejection or legal disputes in the future.

Insufficient or Incorrect Information Provided

Providing inaccurate or insufficient information in the Articles of Organization can delay or reject your LLC application.

Be diligent in providing complete and accurate details about your LLC's name, address, registered agent, and members.

Double-check all information before submission to avoid unnecessary setbacks.

Missing Signature or Authorization

Failing to sign the Articles of Organization or obtain the necessary authorization from all members can lead to a rejected filing.

Ensure that all members sign the document as required, and if your LLC requires an organizer's signature, obtain it before submitting the paperwork [5].

Omitting Important Provisions

The Articles of Organization should include essential provisions that define your LLC's structure and operations.

Omitting critical details, such as management structure, member rights, or dissolution procedures, can create confusion and legal issues in the future.

Include all relevant provisions to establish a clear framework for your LLC.

"Certain states impose restrictions on employing the limited liability company (LLC) framework for specific business types. For instance, under California's regulations, entities offering professional services, such as accounting, massage therapy, and chiropractic practices, cannot organize as LLCs. Instead, these businesses must opt for alternative legal structures."

-Jon Morgan, Co-Founder & Chief Editor of Venture Smarter

Advantages and Benefits of Properly Filed Articles of Organization

Properly filing Articles of Organization grants legal recognition to your LLC as a separate legal entity.

This distinction shields the personal assets of LLC members from business debts and liabilities, providing essential liability protection.

A well-drafted Articles of Organization also outlines the LLC's business structure, management, and member responsibilities.

This clarity helps prevent misunderstandings among members and ensures efficient operations and decision-making.

Properly filed Articles of Organization also enhance your LLC's credibility and professionalism in the eyes of clients, partners, and suppliers.

A legally recognized entity inspires confidence and trust, leading to stronger business relationships and potential growth opportunities.

Making Amendments to Articles of Organization

Pointing where to sign name

As your business evolves, you may need to amend the original Articles of Organization.

Common reasons include changes in business structure, membership, or operational procedures.

Ensure that any amendments align with the LLC's objectives and comply with state regulations.

To amend the Articles of Organization, follow these steps:

  1. Review the current Articles: Understand the existing provisions and identify the sections requiring changes.
  2. Draft the amendments: Prepare a clear and concise document outlining the changes you wish to make.
  3. Member approval: Obtain the required approval from all LLC members as per the operating agreement or state law.
  4. Filing with the state: Submit the amended Articles of Organization to the appropriate state agency, along with any necessary filing fees.

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FAQs

Can I Form an LLC Without Articles of Organization?

You cannot form an LLC without Articles of Organization. These essential documents legally establish your business, outlining its structure and operating procedures. Skipping this step may hinder your business's legitimacy and legal protection. Ensure proper documentation to establish a legitimate LLC.

How Do I Find My LLC Articles of Organization?

To find the Articles of Organization for your LLC, you'll have to know its name and the state where it was formed. The Secretary of State's official website will have a search box where you can type in the name of the LLC.

Are Articles of Organization Public Records?

Articles of organization are public records. You have to include the registered agent's name and address in the Articles of Organization. To avoid your private information being public, you can designate an agent service for your LLC.


References:

  1. https://advocacy.sba.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/2023-Small-Business-Economic-Profile-US.pdf
  2. https://www.berkmansolutions.com/articles/entities/30-years-of-new-business-entities/
  3. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacodepopularnames/virginia-limited-liability-company-act/
  4. https://www.collective.com/guides/the-ultimate-guide-to-naming-an-llc/
  5. https://www.legalnature.com/guides/10-reasons-why-articles-of-incorporation-are-rejected

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.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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