How To Form an LLC in Georgia
Limited liability companies (LLCs) are a popular business structure among small businesses. An LLC is best described as a combination of a corporation and a sole proprietorship (or general partnership, if there is more than one member).
The steps to create an LLC vary depending on state laws, but all states require specific forms to be filed with a government agency. Some states also require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place. In Georgia, for example, an LLC operating agreement isn't required, although it's still a good idea to have one.
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Steps To Start an LLC in Georgia
Step 1: Pick a Name for Your LLC
If you haven't already begun brainstorming, you should take some time to sit down and make a list of business names that you like. The names that you come up with should be unique and descriptive. The name of the LLC is vital for branding and marketing, but there are also legal implications. You'll need to make sure that the name you choose doesn't violate any Georgia laws or naming guidelines.
For example, your business name must be distinguishable from all other registered business names in Georgia. To check for name availability, search for the name you'd like to use for your business on the Georgia Secretary of State website.
Include the words "limited liability company," "limited company," or an abbreviation such as "LLC" in your business name. Do not include any words or phrases that imply that your business is affiliated with a governmental agency. Likewise, don't include any words or phrases that indicate that your business is a financial institution if it's not one.
Step 2: Get a Georgia Registered Agent
It would be best to have a registered agent for your Georgia LLC. A registered agent is a person or company responsible for accepting legal papers on your behalf. If you can't think of an individual with a physical address in Georgia who could serve as your registered agent, you can use a registered agent service. For a fee, a registered agent service can be available for service of process, in case you're ever sued.
Step 3: File the Articles of Organization
You have to file Articles of Organization in Georgia to formally create a limited liability company. You may choose to handle your LLC filing online or by mail. If you decide to file your Articles of Organization by mail, you'll need to add the Transmittal Information form to your filing. Expect to provide the following information when you file Georgia Articles of Organization with the Corporations Division:
- The LLC's name and address
- The name and address of the person filing the Articles of Organization
- The names and addresses of all of the organizers
- The registered agent's name and address
Filing fees vary from state to state. In Georgia, the filing fee for Articles of Organization is $100. All Georgia LLCs are also required to file an annual registration with the Georgia Secretary of State and pay a filing fee.
Step 4: Draft an Operating Agreement
You're not legally required to have an operating agreement for your LLC in Georgia, but you will likely find it helpful. Generally, an LLC operating agreement contains provisions relating to the ownership of the business and the rights and responsibilities of each member of the organization.
Step 5: Get an EIN
An EIN (Employer Identification Number) or Tax ID number is like a social security number for your business entity. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) assigns these numbers, and you can apply for one for free on the IRS website. You'll need to have an EIN when you start hiring employees.
Step 6: Open a Business Bank Account
It's essential to keep your personal and business funds separate. A separate bank account for your business assets will also make accounting and tax preparation easier. Be prepared to provide your EIN when you open your bank account.
It's also a good idea to get a credit card or debit card dedicated solely to your business. This will help you maintain the separation between business and personal funds you need. Failure to keep this separation could result in a creditor's ability to reach your personal assets.
Frequently Asked Questions About Georgia LLCs
1. Do I need to form an LLC in Georgia?
There are certain advantages to forming an LLC. You can have limited liability protection for your assets and flexibility regarding how your organization is taxed. If you have a sole proprietorship and are interested in these benefits, you might want to consider LLC formation.
2. Do I need business licenses and permits for my LLC?
You might need to get business licenses or permits for your LLC, depending on the type of business you're operating. Business licenses are handled on the local level, so it's good to check with your local Chamber of Commerce.
3. Can an LLC be dissolved?
Yes, you can dissolve an LLC. Your Articles of Organization and operating agreement should address procedures for winding down your company. If you don't have procedures listed in your formation documents, state LLC laws apply.
Get Legal Help to Form a Georgia LLC
Fortunately, forming an LLC in Georgia can be a straightforward process with FindLaw's Business Formation Service. However, if you have specific questions about your business, get in touch with a skilled business organizations attorney today.
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