Protecting Yourself from Liability: How to form an LLC in Ohio (Authored by Faruki Law Clerk Terrel P. Benne)

formLLC_tbenneThinking about launching a new business, being your own boss? Congratulations! You had an idea for a business, completed research, put some money aside, and now you’re ready to begin the business formation process.  But where do you start?  If you think you should have the structure and protections of a limited liability company ("LLC") then look no further, this post provides a helpful step-by-step guide to forming an Ohio LLC, as well as summarizing the benefits of an LLC over other types of business organizations.  If you want to form an LLC in Ohio, you will need to get your business registered with the Ohio Secretary of State.

The first step you need to take before registering your LLC is to decide on a name.  Maybe this was one of the first steps you took when you were creating your business plan or maybe this is the first time you are considering the idea.  Regardless, there are some naming rules you need to be aware of.  First, the name of your business must be distinguishable from other, already registered businesses.  If your business name is so similar as to cause customer confusion, it will likely be rejected by the Secretary of State.  Another naming rule one must conform with is that a new business name must contain the words "limited liability company" or an abbreviation, such as "L.L.C." "LLC," "limited," or "ltd."

The next step then required is to appoint a statutory agent; this is an individual or company that accepts legal and official documents on the business’s behalf.  The statutory agent must be at least 18 years old, an Ohio resident, and be available during normal business hours.  It is possible to list yourself as the statutory agent though sometimes individuals can find themselves in trouble with the Secretary of State if they are on vacation, sick, or otherwise unable to accept official mail.

The third step is to check if your business will require any special or particular kind of business license to operate in Ohio.  For example, any business which sells tangible personal items must obtain a vendor’s license from the Ohio Department of Taxation.  And if your business will sell alcohol then you must obtain a permit through the Ohio Department of Liquor Control.

The final step is to file articles of organization with the Secretary of State.  For domestic LLC’s based in Ohio, the correct form is Form 610. LLC articles of organization must include the LLC name, contact information and signature of the statutory agent, and name and signature of the company member who is filling out the articles of organization.  After submitting the articles, the state will process the submission, which usually takes three to seven business days.  If approved, you will receive a stamped copy of your articles of organization in the mail. Congratulations again! You are officially authorized to do business in Ohio as an LLC.

Even though you are officially authorized to conduct business as an LLC, the responsibilities do not end there. Other steps you should take to ensure the LLC remains in good standing include complying with employer obligations, paying Ohio business taxes, acquiring sufficient insurance protections, and a myriad of other "getting off the ground" tasks, in addition to making sure you are complying with all applicable state and federal laws.  These responsibilities are part of the trade-off of forming an LLC which allows for limiting your personal liability from your business liability and debts. For owners of growing businesses, this is an enormous protection.  Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with your newfound liability protections and good luck with your new business.

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