Tag: business entity

Business legal services in Silicon Valley

Are LLCs the Right Entity for You?

The current economic environment is highly competitive. It is more important than ever that businesses have the right legal structure in place. An LLC might be the right entity for your California business. Indeed, there are many reasons to select an LLC as a business entity. However, an LLC is not the right business entity for every situation. In California, certain types of businesses cannot lawfully operate as an LLC. Here, our Fremont business formation lawyer highlights the key things to know if you are trying to determine if an LLC is the right entity for your company.

Know the Benefits of Forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC)

As explained by the California Franchise Tax Board, a limited liability company is a type of business entity that “blends partnership and corporate structures.” There are a number of different potential advantages to operating as an LLC, including:

  • Ease of set up: It is relatively easy and cost-effective to set up an LLC in California. You will have to select a name for your LLC, complete form LLC-1 and submit it to the Secretary of State and pay California’s annual LLC tax. There are minimal other requirements, including annual compliance costs.
  • Liability protection: Perhaps the primary benefit of an LLC is that it offers strong liability protection. As a member of an LLC in California, your personal assets can be protected from the debts and liabilities of the business. There are limited exceptions, similar to a corporation.
  • Flexibility: A California LLC is a fundamentally flexible business structure. You can effectively structure your company in the way you feel works best—profits, financial obligations, and voting rights can be split however you and the other members desire. 

It is highly recommended that you have a professionally drafted operating agreement for your LLC. A well-crafted agreement will ensure that your rights and interests are properly protected.

California Law: Not All Businesses Can Operate as LLCs

It is important to emphasize that not every type of business can operate as an LLC in California. In fact, most licensed-businesses cannot be structured as an LLC. While there are limited exceptions, you should always consult with an experienced Bay Area business lawyer before moving forward. California law is evolving and certain CSLB, service businesses and home health care businesses can now be structured as LLCs.

For certain types of licensed professionals (lawyers, accountants, architects, etc.), an alternative type of business entity called a limited liability partnership (LLP) is an option. If you have any questions about forming an LLP, our Fremont, CA business formation lawyer can help.

LLCs are Not the Right Entity for Every Business

Even if your specific type of company can operate an LLC in California, it may still not be the best option for your needs. While LLCs offer some strong advantages—low administrative costs, liability protection, flexibility, etc.—there are also some downsides.

Most notably, an LLC operates as a pass-through entity for tax purposes. There will be a self-employment tax for LLC members. For this and other reasons, LLCs are generally not the best option for companies holding significant inventory, leasing expensive commercial space, or that have high overhead costs.

Consult With a Business Lawyer in the Bay Area

Lynnette Ariathurai is an experienced, solutions-driven business formation lawyer. If you have any questions about whether an LLC is the right entity for your business, please contact us today. We serve communities throughout the area, including Fremont, Newark, Union City, East Bay, Milpitas, San Leandro, Santa Clara, Hayward, and San Jose. 

business entity, business formation, business planning, business structure, liability protection, limited liability partnership

Business legal services in Silicon Valley

Selecting the Right Business Entity When Starting a Business

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One of the most important choices you will make when starting a business is selecting a type of legal structure for your company. This decision impacts how much you pay in taxes, the amount of paperwork your business is required to complete, your personal liability, and your ability to raise money to expand or grow.

There are three primary factors that will guide the type of business entity you choose — liability, taxation, and record-keeping. Choosing the correct business entity should be a thoughtful decision. Weigh the pros and cons of each and explore how such an entity can help your business launch, expand, and grow. Business entities are not written in stone and you may change yours as circumstances dictate. 

The four most common business entities and what distinguishes them follow:

  • A sole proprietorship offers complete managerial control to the owner. As the owner you are also personally liable for all the financial obligations of your business. Of all the business entities, a sole proprietorship is the riskiest, placing your business and personal wealth in play when the business cannot pay its financial obligations.
  • A partnership is a business of two or more people who agree to share in the profits and losses of a business. Like sole proprietorships, each partner is personally liable for all the financial obligations of the business, jointly and separately.
  • A corporation is a legal entity that is separate and apart from the owners who created it. The corporation can make a profit, is taxed, and can be held legally liable for its actions. The owner’s liability for the financial obligations of the corporation are limited to the value of the shares the owners have in the corporation. Corporations are the most expensive business entity to form and maintain and have extensive record-keeping requirements.
  • A limited liability company (LLC), is a hybrid of a corporation and partnership business entity. Owners are only liable for their “shares” in the LLC and profits and losses are passed through to the owners individually without taxation of the business entity itself.

Set Up your Business, Register, and Comply with Record-Keeping Requirements

You should seek expert advice from a business attorney when considering the pros and cons of various business entities, the registration requirements in your locality, and the ongoing record-keeping requirements your business must follow at its formation and beyond.

If you are an aspiring business owner or entrepreneur, we can help you turn your ideas into actions and select the right business entity for your new business. Our experienced business attorneys can partner with you to build a lasting relationship that is mutually beneficial. Contact us today for an initial consultation. Located in Fremont, CA, we serve Newark, Hayward, East Bay, Milpitas, Union City, San Leandro, Gilroy, San Jose and Santa Clara. We look forward to putting our legal experience to work for you.

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Business legal services in Silicon Valley

Why Might a Business Incorporate in Delaware Instead of California?

Classified Board of Directors

business formation

Many of the largest public companies in the world are incorporated in Delaware. California business owners ask me whether they should incorporate in Delaware when choosing a state of incorporation for a business about to go public. This post will examine some of the key differences between incorporation and corporate governance laws in California and Delaware.

Under Delaware law, corporations are permitted to have a classified board of directors, with each class having a term of longer than one year. Whereas, a non-public California corporation requires annual election of its board of directors.

Cumulative Voting for Directors

Delaware law permits cumulative voting for directors, so long as this provision is included in the company’s certificate of incorporation and/or its bylaws. California law is more expansive with respect to cumulative voting. By default, cumulative voting is available to shareholder elections of directors and it need not be specified in the articles of incorporation or bylaws. Cumulative voting is considered a statutory right for shareholders of non-publicly traded corporations, unless specifically excluded in the company’s articles of incorporation and/or its bylaws.

The Right of Stockholders to Call Special Meetings of Stockholders

Stockholders are only permitted to call special meetings if the company’s certificate of incorporation or bylaws authorizes it under Delaware law. In California, on the other hand, not only may a special meeting of shareholders be called by the holders of 10% or more of the voting stock of the corporation, but this right may not be waived by the shareholders in the company’s certificate of incorporation or bylaws.

Insulation of Directors

California permits unlimited monetary liability for directors upon a finding of breach of fiduciary duty. Delaware law provides a complete shield to directors from monetary liability for breach of fiduciary duty except in circumstances in which a stockholder can demonstrate a breach of the duty of loyalty, a failure to act in good faith, intentional misconduct, or a knowing violation of law, among other violations.

Predictability Surrounding Corporate Outcomes

In Delaware, both the legislature and the courts work in concert to act quickly and effectively to meet changing business needs. Corporation law in Delaware is one of the most extensive and well-defined bodies of corporate law in the United States. The Delaware Court of Chancery is renowned for its sole focus on business and corporate law, no backlog, and a knowledgeable bench in resolving complex corporate issues. 

If you are starting a business in California, or own an existing business in the East Bay Area including Fremont, Newark, Hayward, East Bay Milpitas, Union City, San Leandro, Gilroy, San Jose, or Santa Clara and you are seeking to explore incorporating in California or Delaware, you will need to ensure that the right steps are taken for incorporation. Seek legal advice and counsel from a knowledgeable California business lawyer today, call us at 510-794-9290.

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