Operating Agreement – What Is an LLC Operating Agreement?

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Whenever a new Limited Liability Company is set up, several legal agreements and licenses have to be created. These documents ensure that your LLC has been registered properly under the state government and that the business has met all the legal and judicial terms. An Operating Agreement is one such legal document that LLCs need to have. So here is all about an LLC operating agreement.

LLC operating agreement

What is an LLC Operating Agreement?

An operating agreement is a legal record that has all the details of the LLC and its members. Basically, an operating agreement has information from formation to dissolution. Besides, this document structures the financial functionality of the LLC. Some states may not have the mandatory rule to have an Operating Agreement, but it is necessary to have such a document when you run your business.

Amongst all the documents that have to be drawn out, it is the Operating Agreement, which should be taken care of right after you are done with registering the business name and choosing the registered LLC agent. The Operating Agreements consist of various clauses and other detailed points which will describe the business in-depth. These documents will also explain the relationships between the members and the managers appointed in the business.

How Does an Operating Agreement Work?

As mentioned, an operating agreement is a document that records everything about an LLC from top to toe. This document needs to be filed just after you register your LLC with the state. As the agreement has all the financial and structural functionality of the LLC, it certainly protects the LLC and its members when needed.

As said earlier, some states do not have any legal rules to file the operating agreement. In that case, the LLCs have to follow the rules set by the State. For example, if the State requires equal division of profit among the members, irrespective of the capital share, LLCs have to follow this rule. An Operating Agreement makes things easier, transparent, and clear.

What an Operating Agreement Should Contain

The exact content of the Operating Agreement will be decided by the business members only. However, every agreement should have six different sections, which will indicate all the functional and managerial aspects of the LLC business. For better convenience, you can hire a professional, like NorthWest Registered Agent, that provides a free Operating Agreement template to understand it better.

Rest assured, your company agreement should have the following six departments at any cost.

Article I: Organization

The first article will talk about your LLC business itself. This section will contain all the basic information units which form the overall skeletal of the company. For starters, the date of formation and the founder information should be mentioned in this Article section. Following this, the list of the member names should be there, the percentage of ownership for a multiple-member LLC, and other such details. 

Article II: Management and Voting

In the management and voting section, everything related to the company management and the voting procedures will be discussed. The following points are mentioned clearly in this section:

  • Who is going to manage the business- the LLC can be managed by one or more members or by managers that members appointed. The authority who will be overseeing the company’s affairs will be mentioned clearly to avoid future conflicts of interest.
  • How the voting should be carried out- here, everything related to the voting will be discussed, like the number of votes per member or per unit percentage of ownership and how many votes will be required for bringing the reform into motion within the company.

Article III: Capital Contributions

Every LLC business needs initial capital contributions to the startup. It is in this section that the capital investment details need to be mentioned, starting from the capital amount deposited, the member/members who have contributed to the capital deposit, and others. Apart from this, Article III will also describe how the members are going to make money in the future for company growth.

Article IV: Distributions

For a multi-member company, this article needs to discuss the percentage of ownership that will affect the shares, profits, and asset distribution. This means, that Article IV will describe how much profits each member will get, in what ratio the business assets must be divided, and others.

Article V: Membership Changes

In this section, everything related to the membership will be discussed. Clauses related to the addition, removal, or transference of a member or two have to be mentioned in this section. Apart from this, the terms and requirements for the membership changes will also be mentioned so that no conflict can arise in the future.

Article VI: Dissolution

The last section that will remain the same in all the Operating Agreements is about the dissolution. If the LLC has to be dissolved in the near future, this section will state the circumstances under which the dissolution decision needs to be taken, the pre-requisites for the dissolution, and others. Article VI is actually said to be the “winding up” part of the document, where the end course of the LLC is specified in case the company fails to achieve its goals.

Other Topics Discussed in the Agreement

Apart from the points to be discussed in the six articles of all the Operating Management, some other topics can also be included which will discuss the requirements of the business including the meeting schedules, the annual reports, and so on.

Why Do I Need an Operating Agreement?

Not all states require the business owner to provide the official Operating Agreement. Rather, it is only in the states of Missouri, California, Maine, Delaware, New York, and Nebraska that the LLC needs to provide the agreement at the time of registering the company.

However, there are reasons that back up this mandatory need, which every LLC owner must know.

  • The Operating Agreement covers every detail about how the company is going to work in the future, the interactions between the members and the managers, and other facts.
  • The default rules and other statements are mentioned in the custom Operating Agreement that will be drawn before the registration of the LLC.
  • Every single detail about the capital contribution, the members involved in the contribution, and the management process of the future investments will be mentioned in the agreement.
  • The Operating Agreement outlines the dissolution rules, membership change rules, and other minute details and principles on which the LLC structure is formed.

What to Do After Completing the Operating Agreement?

Once the LLC Operating Agreement is set up, you will have to follow the rest of the processes required for successfully setting up the business and running it in the concerned state. You can hire professional consultants like TailorBrands, who will guide you in the LLC formation process once the agreement is being set up and filed.

Steps to Take After Forming an Operating Agreement

Time needed: 5 minutes.

  1. Get the EIN

    Once the agreement’s filing is successful you must get the EIN number. This unique nine-digit number will allow all the LLC businesses to make proper transactions, hire the employees, and pay the income taxes, and pension taxes, and other functions. The EIN number filing needs to be done with the IRS department of the concerned state.

  2. Open a business bank account.

    Your business will need the bank accounts from where you and other members will be able to make all the transactions, be it transference of money, processing the payrolls of the employees, taking a loan for the business, and so on. You need to submit the Operating Agreement, the name registration certificate, the EIN number, and a nominal fee for opening the business bank accounts.

  3. Register the LLC for state taxes

    After this, you need to register your LLC business with the IRS to understand more about the tax requirements. If your LLC is involved in hiring employees, you need to register for the unemployment pension tax. Meanwhile, if the LLC is dependent on selling services, you need to look further into the sales and income taxes registration process.

  4. Get all the needed licenses and permits.

    You need to get all the licenses and permits related to the LLC business so that you can easily avoid legal and judicial conflicts later on. Also, with the licenses at the right place, you can avoid legal lawsuits filed by someone else.

  5. Have the business insurance ready

    You also need to ensure that the liability insurance papers are ready to be filed by the time you will be done with the previous steps. This type of insurance will prevent your company from falling to the depths of bankruptcy, losses, and others.

How to Write an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement includes all the details of the members of an LLC, their roles and responsibilities, terms of leaving as well as dissolution of the business.

An operating agreement is an essential document for any business that is operating as a limited liability company (LLC). It outlines the company’s policies, procedures, and management structure that governs the day-to-day operations of the business. Many business owners consider the operating agreement to be the backbone of their company since it provides an outline of the business’ inner workings.

An operating agreement can provide a legal framework for your business that strengthens both you and your partners’ legal positions, protects your intellectual property and limits your legal liability. Writing a comprehensive operating agreement can seem daunting, but with thought and effort, you can draft a polished document that benefits all stakeholders.

To write an operating agreement, one needs to have a clear understanding of the main components of an operating agreement. These components include the company’s purpose, organizational structure, management and operation, capital contributions, profit and loss sharing, transfer of interest or ownership, and dissolution process. It is essential to have an experienced attorney knowledgeable in business law to review and help prepare the operating agreement, which you must understand, for you to print your name at the bottom.

The company’s purpose section sets out what the LLC intends to do, including the goods or services the company will provide for the public. This section is significant because it covers the foundational goals and objectives of the company. It, therefore, functions like its mission statement and sets out standards toward which all Members must work.

Another essential component of an operating agreement is the organizational structure, which specifies how the company will be organized: manager-managed or member-managed. A member-managed LLC is where owners of the LLC each have equal rights and decision-making authority over the operation of the company. A manager-managed LLC confers tactical responsibility over voting and supervising Members to managers, who can be either Members or non-Members.

Furthermore, management and operation describe roles, responsibilities and decision-making authorities among Members. Management may involve the conduct of ordinary business by a Member, executive, or with an outside entity or further expertise than Members impower.

Capital contribution offers one way in which Members contribute money or assets to the LLC; setting out capital amounts and contributing proportion-to-ownership-required; outlining how transactions are affective between Members, and finally settling disputes arising within it.

Profit and loss sharing are guiding limits for contributing profits and losses over a stipulated duration with specific rules expressing ownership from additional variables like additional capital contributions.

Lastly, transfer of interest or ownership discusses methods by which Members may dispose their interests at their discretion and control in the case of an involuntary dispossession.

In summary, one cannot overemphasize the importance of clear, sound, accurate, and executable operating agreements. A comprehensive operating agreement is the first official legal basis of operation in your business, emphasizes rights and obligations of Members under prevailing laws.

However, it may take time and careful evaluation, reference materials, and conversations with knowledgeable business law experts; following the directions of State statutes, ethics and federal governance to produce well-structured guidance documentation tailored to each business operational compliance. So consider having a qualified attorney to guarantee that your inclusion is properly executed to avoid improper queries into your LLC formation.


How much does an operating agreement cost?

The cost of the Operating Agreement will depend on the state from where you will be filing the document. But, you can get an approximated amount by using the operating agreement tool.

What is the difference between the Operating agreement and the bylaws?

Bylaw and Operating Agreement are the same since both of these documents describe everything about the internal operations. But, the Bylaws are drafted for a corporation, whereas the Operating Agreement describes the LLC.

What will happen if the LLC doesn’t have an Operating Agreement?

Without the agreement, the LLC company will be creating roadblocks between the management, ownership, and accounting pillars. Not all the members will agree at one point without the agreement. Also, you wouldn’t be able to file for the EIN, and hence, your corporate veil will dwindle.

In Conclusion

An operating Agreement is needed while forming an LLC but it is not mandatory in all states. However, it is recommended to have an operating agreement when you start your LLC. Because operating agreements are the documents that record every detail of your business. You can get the operating agreement drafts from the LLC formation services at a reasonable price.

About Author & Editorial Staff

Steve Goldstein, founder of LLCBuddy, is a specialist in corporate formations, dedicated to guiding entrepreneurs and small business owners through the LLC process. LLCBuddy provides a wealth of streamlined resources such as guides, articles, and FAQs, making LLC establishment seamless. The diligent editorial staff makes sure content is accurate, up-to-date information on topics like state-specific requirements, registered agents, and compliance. Steve's enthusiasm for entrepreneurship makes LLCBuddy an essential and trustworthy resource for launching and running an LLC.

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