Beresford Basics: LLCs 101

Mar 29, 2024

Part 1: What is an LLC?

Section B: Let’s Answer the Question

In my previous post, I explored the distinctions between partnerships and corporations. Now, let’s take a bird’s-eye view to understand the central elements of LLCs.

An LLC is a unique business structure that combines the advantages of both corporations and partnerships. As a U.S. legal entity, an LLC provides personal asset protection and pass-through taxation to its owners, who are referred to as “members.” Let’s break down the key features:

  1. Flexible Management Structure: Unlike rigid corporate hierarchies, LLCs allow members to tailor the management style. They can collectively decide how to operate the business and allocate decision-making authority.
  2. Personal Asset Protection: LLC members enjoy limited personal liability. This means that their personal assets remain shielded from creditors even if the LLC faces debts or legal challenges.
  3. Tax Versatility: LLCs have the flexibility to be taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Members can choose the tax option that best suits their specific circumstances.
  4. Streamlined Administration: Compared to corporations, LLCs involve less paperwork and recordkeeping. They operate with fewer regulatory constraints, allowing for smoother day-to-day management.
  5. Popular Choice: Due to their advantages, LLCs are favored by many new business owners, especially those running small to medium-sized enterprises, and those who own investment property.

Considerations and Costs

Although LLCs are a popular option, there are other aspects to consider. Keep in mind that the first four items are shared with corporations:

  1. Filing Fees: To establish and maintain an LLC, you’ll need to pay filing fees. These fees cover essential processes, including filing an annual report with the Washington Secretary of State.
  2. Registered Agent Fees: An LLC requires a registered agent—a person or company authorized to receive legal notices and documents on behalf of the LLC. Be prepared for associated costs.
  3. Business Licenses: Depending on your location and the nature of your business, you may need specific licenses to operate your LLC. We can help with that.
  4. Taxation and Accounting: LLC members must file and pay taxes. The specific tax obligations vary based on the chosen tax option (e.g., self-employment taxes, corporate taxes). Seek professional accounting advice to effectively navigate this terrain.
  5. Membership Transfer Complexity: Unlike publicly traded corporate stock, transferring membership in an LLC isn’t straightforward. Businesses often find the corporate structure more conducive to external investment.

In summary, LLCs offer a versatile blend of protection, flexibility, and tax benefits. However, be aware of the costs and requirements carefully to make informed decisions for your business venture.

In my upcoming blog post, I’ll discuss the distinctions between member-managed and manager-managed LLCs. Plus, I’ll offer a robust recommendation (hint: it’s in favor of manager-managed LLCs!). Get ready to demystify the jargon!

For any questions regarding LLCs, email me at info@beresfordlaw.com or give me a call at (425) 776-4100.

BERESFORD BOOTH PLLC has made this content available to the general public for informational purposes only. The information on this site is not intended to convey legal opinions or legal advice.