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LLC Operating Agreement – Free Operating Agreement Template Sample

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Whether you already have a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or are just be setting up an LLC, you’re at the right place.  All you have to do is follow the simple guidelines you’ll get with my LLC Operating Agreement, and you’ll have a better operating agreement than the internet sites and half the lawyers will give you.

If you already have an LLC and operating agreement, great! Use this template to review your LLC and see if there are still issues you need addressed in your operating agreement. This is what you’ve got to do, because nobody is going to protect your assets like you, and the operating agreement is the key to setting up and operating an LLC that will actually protect you.

Setting Up an LLC

Setting up an LLC is fast and easy.  All you have to do is follow a couple of steps on state websites or get a set of articles of organization from an internet site. But just setting up an LLC isn’t going to give you any asset protection.  Most LLCs do not protect their owners, because the operating agreement was never put in place or it wasn’t don’t right. Without a good operating agreement, the whole LLC legal structure will fail when it is put to the test. Make sure you lay a good foundation and get the protection you and your LLC deserve.

If you do your LLC properly it can give you great asset protection, more money, and even peace of mind.  Just follow these steps:

1.  Get your state’s Articles of Organization form, fill it out and file it with the state.  There are lots of questions about which state to put your LLC in. Most of the questions about filing in a state other than your own can be answered with a simple statement–no and hell no. When you figure out what state is the right state for you, the Articles of Organization forms are free on the state’s website.

2.  Call the IRS and get and EIN (Employer Identification Number).  Then file the required paperwork with the IRS to get your LLC’s tax status nailed down.  Put your “start business date” as far out as you can.

3.  Use my Operating Agreement Template to get a minimal, but great, operating agreement in place so you get the maximum tax benefits, asset protection, and security. Of course you’ll have to follow the LLC’s formalities outlined in your operating agreement as you go forward.

4.  Set up a Revocable Living Trust to “own” your LLC membership interests, so your company doesn’t have to be probated when you die.  (Most attorneys miss that one.)

5.  Cross the t’s and dot the i’s. Then use your LLC to make money, get the asset protection, and save a ton of taxes.  The problem is that the internet sites and even 99% of the lawyers never tutor you on how to get the extra money and asset protection. Your LLC is your best tax shelter. If you use it right, it is worth thousands of extra dollars in your pocket.

Articles of Organization

Whatever state you are going to do business in will require you to file your “articles of organization.”  Once the articles of organization are properly filed, you’ll have an LLC.  Don’t get fancy.  Just use the state’s forms, and don’t give them any more information than you absolutely have to.  (It’s public information as soon as it is filed.)  Should you do your LLC in Nevada or some other sexy state?  There are a few positives and lots of negatives.  Don’t let them sucker you.

Operating Agreement

The operating agreement is the “guts” of your LLC.  It’s the bible for operating your LLC.  The operating agreement determines what asset protection you get, how much you save in taxes, and how you get attacked in court.  A really good agreement can go 20-30 pages long if you address the common issues that come up in operation of your LLC. One internet/seminar site brags a 150 page operating agreement. That’s overkill, because you can never follow that many “rules” outlined in that long of an LLC operating agreement. On the other hand, the 5 page operating agreement you get many places on the internet won’t address enough of the common LLC issues, so you need to look for the sweet spot inbetween.

Your operating agreement will be the first document an attorney asks for when you get sued.  The statistics are overwhelming that your LLC will be sued, if you really do any business.  It will be the document your estate administrators ask for.  There are lots of issues that should be addressed in your LLC operating agreement.  It really should be customized to meet your needs.  You’re downloading my complementary LLC operating agreement as a good example of an operating agreement. After you use it and become comfortable with it, you should take a deeper dive into the operating agreement world. Get my Complete Operating Agreement Course. It has an audio tutorial and shows you how to customize your operating agreement beyond the free template. I point out issues that can save your skin. (Attorneys usually don’t care if you lose your skin, because they love to charge to clean up the mess.)

The standard internet deal is pitching to the lowest common denominator.  Even most attorneys are just using a computerized form for a one size fits all document. Consider if you need more than the “lowest common denominator” approach.

An LLC Operating Agreement Has to Have the Proper Elements, Or You Lose

There are specific legal standards your LLC operating agreement has to meet, or you don’t get any asset protection.  For example, it can only have two of the four legal elements found in a corporation.  If you have three, you lose.  You won’t have a corporation and you won’t have an LLC.  When you get into court, you’ll be a partnership, and you’ll be personally liable.  That’s not good, and it all happens so fast.

You have to be able to read your operating agreement and figure out which two you’ve got.  It’s sneaky, because most attorneys can’t tell.  It’s all in the language.  The attorney or internet site will say it doesn’t matter whether or not you are a member managed or a manager managed LLC.  Oh, yes it does matter.  Depending on which you chose, you’re picking one of the two elements or rejecting it.

Multiple Member vs. Single Member LLCs

In many states, single member LLCs have different asset protection laws than multiple member LLCs.  The courts are attacking single member LLCs.  In a dozen or more states, a single member LLC will, by its very nature, cut your asset protection potential in half.

Florida is a good example.  The Supreme Court in Florida wiped out a critical part of asset protection that single member LLCs used to get.  It’s just gone.  The creditors of the members can come directly against the assets of the LLC in order to satisfy the debts of the member.  (Check out the case SHAUN OLMSTEAD, et al., vs. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, [June 24, 2010])

Spending the time to customize your LLC for asset protection will pay huge dividends when you get in trouble.  Lots of people come to me and they are already in trouble.  Because of the fraudulent conveyance laws, they can’t start moving assets around, so at that point the time for asset protection has pretty much passed.

LLC Taxes

Most people get the “default” tax plan the IRS assigns them.  In fact, most people I talk to can’t even tell me how their LLC is being taxed.  If taxes are going to take 20-40% of all the money you make in your LLC, wouldn’t it be worth honing your LLC to cut your taxes?  It really is your most important tax shelter, because you can control your adjusted gross income.

You can’t work ten percent harder, but in a couple of hours you can customize your LLC operating agreement and do some tax planning to save ten percent of the money you make.  Is that a good deal?  What’s it worth to you?  Put a number on it.

Your LLC operating agreement really is the heart of your company.  An attorney may just treat it as a form document — same size fits all, but it really is important.  It needs to address lots of issues.  I’ve seen lots of 100-page operating agreements.  That’s an over kill for most people, but the words on the paper mean a lot when the IRS  and the lawyers come gunning for you.  The words will determine your financial life in many cases.  Do it right to start with!

And, if you REALLY want to start it right:

In addition to the complementary template you’ve gotten,

I’ve Created an EASY Way to Customize Your Template So You Get
The MAXIMUM Protection You Can Get!

Get the easily customizable version of my Operating Agreement Template and walk through it with my audio instructions. I can show you what you need to do to get the most protection and more money out of from your LLC.

Let me walk you through

  • Customizing Your Operating Agreement
  • Protecting Business Assets From Personal Liabilities
  • Having a Smooth Ownership Transition
  • Eliminating Estate Taxes
  • Reducing Payroll Taxes (self-employment taxes)
  • Cutting Your Income Taxes by thousands each year
  • Using your LLC to Make Money and Protect Your Assets.

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