Starting an LLC may involve filing articles of organization with the state and establishing internal ground rules for how your business should operate. Establishing your credibility as a legal entity is a part of the plan.
Every Delaware LLC is encouraged, but not required, to have an operating agreement to safeguard the company’s operations, from organization to dissolution. It ensures that all LLC members understand their roles and responsibilities. This page guides you in making a Delaware operating agreement.
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
Delaware LLC Operating Agreement Content
An operating agreement is a legal document detailing the LLC’s organizational structure and operational procedures. Topics not restricted to a single member or multi-member LLC will be covered. While these provisions might not influence day-to-day operations, they must be included for legal reasons.
- Ownership: The operating agreement details who the members are and how ownership is divided, be it a sole proprietorship or LLC. Sole proprietorship refers to a single person with total control over a business, also known as a single-member LLC. Multi-member LLC members can have either equal or varying ownership interests.
- Management: Your LLC could be member-managed or manager-managed. The former means members can decide regarding contracts with third parties; the latter means only designated managers can do so. Using “manager-managed” instead of “hands-on” can reduce administrative work. Management’s authority is also limited in the Operating Agreement.
- Voting: Define each owner’s voting rights and voting thresholds, such as a majority vote, supermajority vote, and unanimous consent. A variety of approvals are needed for each type of decision.
- Changes in Membership Structure: If someone leaves the company, how will roles and ownership be transferred? A member buyout and/or replacement procedure must be outlined in the LLC’s governing document.
- Contributions: All types of contributions are accepted. In order to fund their ownership interests, members will have to invest in the collective funds.
- Equity Splits: Determine equity for each member, taking into consideration things like their contributions, responsibilities, and fairness. Maintaining fairness in your equity split will help prevent future disagreements.
- Transfers: You may want to consider outlawing transfers of ownership interests without the consent of all owners. It’s always a good idea to include permitted transfers, such as first refusal, drag-along rights, tag-along rights, and estate planning transfers.
- Business Restrictions: To protect the privacy of the company, including confidentiality obligations. You may also ban the owners from owning competing businesses.
- Intellectual Property: Detail; the ownership of intellectual property created by members. Make sure all company-created intellectual property is owned by the company. You can find alternative ownership/license structures if necessary.
- Taxation: Determine how you will be taxed and plan accordingly. Remember, however, that you must file an LLC annual report and might be required a sales tax.
- Guaranteed Payments: Determine if any of the members should receive Guaranteed Payments, which are like a salary, particularly if your LLC is taxed as a partnership.
- Distribution & Dividends: Explain to all members how the funds will be allocated. A pass-through entity will impose tax distributions regardless of profit distributions.
- Dissolution: The LLC should be dissolved if all members elect to cease operations. It is important to identify how you will end your business in your operating agreement.
Note that the operating agreement, though not a legal requirement in most states, is vital in the operation of your LLC. Should your members have issues with the business, you can deal with it with guidance from the operating agreement.
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Importance of a Delaware LLC Operating Agreement
Delaware doesn’t require that you draft an operating agreement when you have an LLC. The majority of states require that business entities incorporate an operating agreement in order to make it easy for them and for the state to review the structure of the business. In Delaware, it is possible to bypass this step when creating the LLC and you won’t be subject to any legal fines.
But, it is a crucial step to ensure that the business, as well as its owners, are safe from any miscommunications. Here, check out some of the reasons why you should write this contract for the LLC.
- To protect the business: In essence, the operating agreement sets out the rules for an LLC. This means that the rules will be enforced by the government if members fail to adhere to the rules. The agreement can save the LLC from the rules of the government and provide additional benefits.
- It helps the LLC appear trustworthy when investors research companies, they check to see how professional it is. The operating agreement is a great way to make the LLC look professional. It shows that members care about the company, and they would like it to comply with all laws. This provides the opportunity for more investors to invest in the business and this will lead to growth.
- To confirm the status of an LLC The LLCs, which are well-known for their limited liability status, cannot be misinterpreted by the government if they’ve defined the term in their operating agreements. An operating agreement is an opportunity to prove that they are not the same.
- To settle any conflicts: There might be future conflicts regarding distributions and decisions. The operating agreement contains the procedures, requirements, and rules that are applicable to all employees of the business. The operating agreement allows members to review quickly the terms of the agreement prior to when they start performing the task.
- LLC flexibility is aided through Limited Liability Companies. Limited Liability Companies are expected to be flexible because it is a part of their character. This is what the operating agreement does. It is the operating agreement that grants the LLC its freedom.
- To open bank accounts in your company, you’ll require a copy of your operating agreement. At the moment when a business does not have this document, it’ll be difficult for the business to establish a bank account.
In order to clearly state the purpose of a business as well as its ownership interests, a written operating agreement is strongly advised in Delaware.
You and other members of the LLC will be unable to reach any agreements if you do not have an operating agreement. Even worse, your LLC must follow the state’s default operating conditions.
It is required by law in California, New York, Maine, and Missouri, but it is not in Delaware. Although it is not legally required, creating a written agreement is strongly advised. You may self-notarize and distribute the documents.