Do I Need a Lawyer To Start an LLC?
Forming a limited liability company (LLC) is the process of taking your freelancing or small business idea and turning it into a legal business entity. Your LLC will give you tax benefits and shields you from personal liability if anything happens to your company. It costs between $50-$500 on average to register your business.
There is no legal requirement to hire an attorney to form an LLC. Most states allow LLC formation by registering the business entity on your secretary of state's website and with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). LLCs provide advantages over sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Their structure gives limited liability protection to the business owner and members, shielding you from personal liability for your business's obligations. Once you register as an LLC, you can buy or rent a building and open company bank accounts. Unfortunately, your company can also be sued.
When To Use an Attorney for an LLC
A business attorney can save time and money when business owners create a new business. For around $200 to $5,000, they can handle the items you may not have time to consider, such as:
- Creating an LLC operating agreement explaining your company's who, what, when, where, why, and how (required in some states). An LLC operating agreement is an internal document that allows you to establish company rules, layout members' rights and responsibilities, and more.
- Creating articles of organization that list the registered agent, LLC management, and the date of formation.
- Acting as your company's registered agent. A registered agent is a person who receives legal documents, tax forms, and service of process for your company. Service of process is when someone notifies your business that there is a lawsuit pending against your company. Some law firms will act as your registered agent as part of their business formation services. As your registered agent, they will collect your legal correspondence at their physical address. This frees you up to move locations or use a post office box without missing essential documents.
- Keeping detailed records in case of lawsuits or audits.
- Filing fees and registering with the correct people.
- Registering your business name and checking that the LLC name is available.
- Completing and filing all legal and formation documents.
Some attorneys also offer online services or set fees for helping you form your company. Others may ask a small fee for business law consulting services to ensure you are on the right track.
If your LLC is just a few people or there are relatively simple assets, then you will likely be able to do much of the process on your own. If your LLC involves multiple people or partners, bank financing, complex assets, or other concerns, then you can prevent many issues by consulting with an attorney first.
Bringing an Attorney in After Forming Your LLC
If you do not need LLC formation services but need help with your new business, you may want to consider:
- Employment law attorneys to create employment contracts and HR policies.
- Intellectual property lawyers to review your products or services to make sure they are protected.
- A tax lawyer to review your income tax and tax returns to ensure you are not leaving money on the table.
- A business lawyer if you need to change your business structure to a single-member LLC, S-corporation, or another type of business, or need help with another business-related legal matter. It can also be helpful to have a lawyer review necessary business contracts before signing.
- General counsel to review compliance with state laws, state agencies, state fees, or annual fees.
- Real estate attorneys for questions about commercial leases or real estate purchases.
Choosing a DIY approach to many of these services will save you money upfront. However, finding out you made a mistake, could have saved money, or could have been better protected in the long run is a concern for new business owners.
Decide what you need and can afford. Consider having an attorney look things over when the business is making a profit if you cannot afford it right away.
Making the Call on Attorney Assistance for Your Own LLC
However, you do not need an attorney or professional services to register your own business by law. Other documents and legal services can be handled with a DIY approach or trusted to an attorney to save you time and prevent mistakes along the way.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.