How to start an LLC can 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 Washington 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 an operating agreement.
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
Washington 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 Washington LLC Operating Agreement
Washington doesn’t require that you create an operating agreement if you own an LLC. Most states require that all businesses be incorporated in order for them to validate the structure of their business. Washington doesn’t require you to do this step. However, it is possible to form an LLC without penalty fees.
But, it is a crucial measure to make sure that the company and its members are safe from any misunderstandings. Here are a few reasons why you should create an LLC agreement.
- To safeguard the business Operating agreement: It defines the rules of an LLC. In other words, the rules will be enforced by the government if any members are unable to adhere to the rules. This agreement could be used to protect the LLC from being governed by the rules of the government and to provide additional benefits.
- It helps the LLC appear credible when investors research companies, they check to see how professional it is. The operating agreement is a great way to make the LLC appear professional. It shows that the members care about the company, and they want it to be able to comply with all laws. This is a way to draw in more investors and to create growth for the company.
- To safeguard the legal status of LLCs the LLC’s status can be protected by defining it in operating agreements to ensure that the government isn’t confused. LLCs are generally recognized because they are a limited liability entity. It is extremely simple for sole proprietorships confuse an LLC comprised of a single member, however an operating contract can help establish that they’re different.
- To resolve any conflicts: Future conflicts could result from decisions or distributions. The operating agreement contains the procedures, rules and guidelines for members of the company. The operating agreement allows members to quickly review the details of the agreement before they start performing the task.
- LLC flexibility: LLCs with limited liability are meant to be flexible. They can be of this kind of nature since the operating agreement assists them. It is the operating agreement that grants the LLC its freedom.
- To assist in opening business accounts: Often it is necessary for an official document of the operating agreement whenever the business owner wants to open the bank accounts. It will be difficult for the company to open a bank account if it doesn’t have an operating agreement
In order to clearly state the purpose of a business as well as its ownership interests, a written operating agreement is strongly advised in Washington.
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 Washington. Although it is not legally required, creating a written agreement is strongly advised. You may self-notarize and distribute the documents.