Last updated: June 3, 2023

When a firm is shut down, it ceases to exist. In accordance with state legislation, the company's shareholders and managers typically wind down their operations. Understanding the fate of these assets is crucial for shareholders, creditors, and business owners alike.

As experts in business law and corporate affairs, we'll explore the legal processes and considerations involved when a company is dissolved, including the fate of its assets.

This article provides valuable insights into what happens to the assets of a dissolved company. We’ll shed light on the impact of asset distribution, ensuring you comprehensively understand this important aspect of corporate dissolution.

Quick Summary

  • When a company is dissolved, its assets are typically liquidated and converted to cash to pay off debts and obligations. The remaining assets may be distributed to shareholders or sold to third parties.
  • Dissolving a company involves closing operations, sending final invoices to creditors, notifying suppliers, settling taxes, and distributing assets to shareholders in proportion to their ownership
  • Intellectual property assets of a dissolved company can be sold, transferred, licensed, abandoned, or destroyed, depending on legal agreements and applicable laws


Types of Company Dissolution

There are several types of dissolution, depending on the circumstances.

The most common types are voluntary dissolution and involuntary dissolution.

In a voluntary LLC dissolution, also called a "voluntary termination," the company terminates its existence because it's winding up its business affairs and is getting ready to dissolve.

With an involuntary dissolution, also called a "winding up," the company is legally dissolved by court order when creditors or shareholders file suit against it to demand that it be shut down and its business affairs wound up under judicial supervision [1].

What Should I Do When I Dissolve My Company?

Unfinished paperworks on table

If you're in charge of a company being dissolved, you should consult an experienced business attorney in your state about how to proceed.

Depending on the type of dissolution, you might be required to file paperwork with your secretary of state or other relevant government officials.

You should also consider the following points:

1. Liquidate The Dissolved Company Asset

Pointing at the camera while holding money

A dissolved business has assets that are property or assets of value, including cash. It applies regardless of its financial position.

Liquidating company assets means converting them to cash so the company can pay its debts and any other financial obligations as they come due.

A business usually sells or disposes of the company assets if it's going out of business, but state law may require a public sale that anyone can attend.

If there are land-owned assets, leases, or other real properties, they may be sold by a public auction.

The sale of a company's assets is usually held at the company's place of business or some other location in the county seat.

The sale is usually open to the public, but that depends on the state.

Some states permit a dissolved business to use its remaining company assets for ongoing operations if they're not connected to the dissolved business.

This is called "substantially liquidating." A court-appointed receiver or trustee may be appointed by the court to oversee the collection of debts and termination of ongoing relationships during the dissolution process.

In most cases of dissolution, a company's remaining assets are distributed to its shareholders or members after paying off outstanding debts from the liquidation proceeds.

The business may be wound up by a court-appointed receiver, or trustee until all issues involving claims against it have been resolved. Then, the assets owned by the company may be sold to your competitors or other third parties.

2. Close Down Operations

Closed sign on a door

A dissolved business entity must close the business by ceasing activities and taking all reasonable steps to protect company property.

Protecting company property includes: 

  • Checking that pre-existing contracts remain valid after the dissolution
  • Protecting equipment from theft
  • Removing trade fixtures (property specifically used in a trade)
  • Selling off leased assets 
  • Cancelling insurance policies
  • Notifying suppliers of the breakup 
  • Paying outstanding bills covered by the dissolution

If the company holds money in some kind of account--for example, a bank account or safe deposit box--you must close the bank accounts and distribute the contents to shareholders.

You don't have to close accounts with operating expenses until all obligations are met.

You must also remove your LLC from the Companies Register at Companies House.

3. Send Final Invoices

A dissolved company must send final invoices to all creditors and supply a list of amounts due and payable. You should also close all other company accounts in accordance with state law.

4. Notify Suppliers

Suppliers usually want to be paid for supplies or services after the dissolution.

Changing your company name after dissolution will not protect you from claims by creditors, so you must notify suppliers of pending termination and supply a list of all amounts due and payable.

5. Taxes

Calculating taxes

When the company is dissolved, it must file all required tax returns, pay any income taxes due, and close out its assets.

Dissolved companies are not exempt from federal income taxes, state taxes, self-employment taxes, or any other business taxes [2].

You should also ensure the company bank accounts and payroll funds are equally divided and distributed to shareholders.

6. Shareholder Distribution

Lastly, you'll have to distribute any leftover assets after creditors and the company are paid.

You must pay off all claims of shareholders in proportion to their share of ownership.

If there aren't enough assets to go around, you'll have to ask for contributions from shareholders/owners. If someone doesn't contribute, you may sue them in court for their share.

What Assets Are Distributed?

Holding a document while having a conversation

Company assets are distributed to creditors with claims against the business or its shareholders for unpaid bills.

If no money is left after paying off these debts, the remaining assets are distributed proportionately to shareholders.

The most common assets in dissolution are cash, accounts receivable (money owed to the company by clients), inventory (goods on the shelves of a business), equipment, and prepaid expenses.

However, the LLC may also own real estate or special values, such as a patent acquired from a research project.

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What Will Happen to Assets With A Market Value?

If any of your business's assets have value, you will likely be able to sell them for cash for shareholder distribution.

In some cases, these proceeds may even cover your company's outstanding debts and costs associated with winding up operations and closing the books.

What Happens to Intellectual Property Assets when a Business is Dissolved?

When a business is dissolved, its intellectual property assets' fate will depend on various factors. These factors will include legal agreements and applicable laws.

Intellectual property assets can be sold, transferred, or licensed to other entities when a business is dissolved. These assets may include patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

Alternatively, they may be abandoned or destroyed. The dissolution process will determine the specific outcome, the business's obligations, and the governing intellectual property laws in the relevant jurisdiction.

Who Will Owns The Company's Assets?

The company’s owner will become the property owner of all the assets when a firm shuts its doors.

Creditors will have no claim on assets until they are paid in full if any outstanding debts are.

Shareholders will also be under no legal obligation to pay off any outstanding debt when the firm is officially closed.


What Happens to Investments When a Company Is Dissolved?

When an LLC is dissolved, assets are distributed first to creditors and shareholders. Any remaining assets would be awarded to the investors on a pro-rata basis.

Are My LLC’s Assets Vulnerable to Seizure?

LLCs are not considered legal entities and do not possess any property rights. As such, all assets become the property of the company owners when dissolved.

Is It Possible to Sue a Dissolved LLC?

It is impossible to sue a dissolved LLC because it’s not considered a legal entity and therefore files no tax returns or pays taxes.

As such, the owners of an LLC who declare bankruptcy may be held personally liable for filing liabilities. You must seek legal advice and legal services from a law firm.

What if I Don’t Want to Dissolve My Business?

If you don't want to dissolve your business, there are alternatives to consider. These options include restructuring, selling the business, or seeking professional advice to explore potential solutions and strategies for your situation.

It's important to consult with legal and financial experts to understand the implications and make informed decisions for the future of your business.

How Long Does It Take To Dissolve an LLC?

Depending on the state and specific circumstances, it may take 60 days to a year to dissolve an LLC.

The process involves filing appropriate paperwork, settling outstanding debts and obligations, and obtaining necessary approvals. Seeking legal guidance can help ensure a smooth and timely dissolution.

What Happens if a Company Is Dissolved?

In conclusion, when an LLC is dissolved, it must do many things. It must close all of its cash accounts, liquidate its tangible and intangible assets, notify suppliers, remove the register at Companies House and pay off debts.

The remaining property is distributed to the owners in proportion to how much they own. This property includes intellectual property that should not be sold or given to a third party. Consider getting some legal services to make the distribution smoother.



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