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Whether you’re organizing Carnival balls in Mobile or filming independent movies for the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham, your business enterprise can benefit from forming an Alabama LLC.

4 EASY STEPS TO FORMING AN ALABAMA LLC

1) Choose a Name

The name of an Alabama LLC must include a corporate designator. The options for designators are “limited liability company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC.” The name must also be distinguishable from all other entity names on file with the Secretary of State.

2) File a Certificate of Formation

Alabama LLCs are formed by filing a certificate of formation with the judge of probate in the county of the LLC’s registered office. This certificate must include the LLC name, the purpose of the LLC, the period of duration for the LLC, the name and address of the LLC’s registered agent, the name and address of the organizer(s), the right to admit additional members (if given), the names and addresses of managers (if any), and the circumstances where cessation of membership by any members will result in dissolution (if any). This is submitted with a $150 filing fee.

3) Draft and Execute an Operating Agreement

Alabama code contemplates, but doesn’t require, that Alabama LLCs have operating agreements to regulate their affairs and conduct. In the case of multi-member LLCs, it is required that any operating agreement is in writing. We recommend that your LLC does have an operating agreement.

4) Continued Compliance

EIN: Alabama LLCs with more than one member, or employees, must have an EIN for them to list on their federal tax returns. This can be obtained from the I.R.S. website, or through an incorporation service.

Business Privilege Tax: Every LLC in Alabama must file an annual Business Privilege Tax Return. This requires the first 4 pages of a federal tax return, as well as additional information. For more information, the Alabama Department of Revenue website has the Form PPT that must be filed.

WHY FORM AN LLC IN ALABAMA?

The Benefits and Advantages of Creating an Alabama LLC

Introduction

The Alabama LLC Act gives LLC members contractual freedom to customize their contributions, rights, duties, and distributions of profits and losses. In addition, it gives members contractual freedom to customize the duties each party to the LLC agreement owes to the other parties, and it allows members to protect their control of an LLC.

Alabama Has a Growing Economy

Each year, Alabama forms over 15,000 new LLCs.  According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Alabama ranks sixth on the small business survival index, and as the eighth best tax and regulatory environment.

Advantages of Forming an Alabama LLC

The Alabama LLC Act enables members to create classes of membership.  The articles of organization may establish classes of membership interests with different rights, powers, and duties, including voting and non-voting interests.  Section 10-12-22 specifically states “[t]he articles of organization of a limited liability company may provide for classes or groups of members or managers having such relative rights, powers, and duties as so provided.”  The articles of organization may also provide a method for creating additional classes of membership interests in the future.  These provisions facilitate everything from complex, high-dollar-volume transactions to succession planning in family businesses and estate planning by gifts of non-voting interests.

Formation

The Act does not require filing of members’ names.  A “person” may form an LLC by filing its certificate of formation with the probate judge of the county in which the initial registered office of the limited liability company is located.  The definition of “person” is not just a natural person, but includes almost any kind of business or legal entity.  An LLC’s members may therefore have an entity or person who is not a member file the LLC’s certificate of formation.

Duration

The Act provides for an LLC’s unlimited life.  It states that “[u]nless its articles of organization provide otherwise, every limited liability company has perpetual duration.”  An LLC’s existence can therefore outlive its members’ lifetimes.

Dealing with Business Partners

The Alabama LLC Act gives members contractual freedom to customize their capital contributions and their shares of profits and losses.  It states “[t]he profits and losses, income, deductions, and credits … of the limited liability company shall be allocated among the members in the manner provided in the operating agreement.”  This gives members contractual flexibility to adapt their income streams and risks of loss to further their broader asset management plans.

The Alabama LLC Act gives members contractual freedom to customize the duties each party to the LLC agreement owes to the other parties.  Section 10-12-21 has a default rule that members in member-managed LLCs and managers in manager-managed LLCs owe limited fiduciary duties of loyalty and care.  It limits the duty of loyalty to not competing with the LLC or taking a business opportunity away from the LLC, not dealing with the LLC on behalf of parties who have an interest that is adverse to the LLC, and acting as a trustee of the LLC’s property.  It limits the duty of care to “refraining from engaging in grossly negligent or reckless conduct, intentional misconduct, or a knowing violation of law.”

The Act gives members and mangers contractual freedom to “opt out” of most of the default rules, however, by including provisions in the articles of organization or an LLC agreement that modify the duties established in section 10-12-21.  Members and managers cannot completely eliminate the duty of loyalty or unreasonably reduce the duty of care, but they may (1) “[i]dentify types or categories of activities that do not violate the duty of loyalty,” and (2) “[s]pecify the number or percentage of members or … disinterested managers that may authorize or ratify, after full disclosure of all material facts, a specific act or transaction that otherwise would violate the duty of loyalty.”  This second element is a “safe harbor” provision for “interested” transactions, which are transactions between an LLC and one or more of its members or managers.  Alternatively, an LLC agreement may expand a member’s or manager’s duties and liabilities.

The result is the Act protects both majority and minority members.  It protects minority members because an LLC agreement may not completely eliminate fiduciary duties, even though it may identify activities that do not violate them and prescribe standards for measuring them.  These provisions make minority interests safer investments and therefore more valuable.

The Act protects majority members because it provides a “safe harbor” to facilitate contracts and transactions between an LLC and one or more of its managers or members, or an entity in which they own an interest, if the contracts or transactions meet minimum disclosure, approval, or fairness requirements.  These rules give majority members and the LLC certainty in business planning and the ability to take advantage of mutually beneficial opportunities.

Preventing Unwanted Business Partners

The Alabama LLC Act allows members to protect their control of an LLC.  An LLC agreement may prohibit members from assigning their membership interests.  But if an LLC agreement does not prohibit it, an assignment does not dissolve the LLC or entitle the assignee to become a member.  Instead, the assignee may only receive the financial rights to which the assignor would have been entitled, and all the other members must consent in writing to the assignee becoming a member.  If a judgment creditor of a member obtains a charging order against the member’s membership interest, “the judgment creditor has only the rights of an assignee of financial rights.”  Under section 10-12-35, obtaining a charging order is the judgment creditor’s “sole and exclusive remedy.”

In addition, the Act states that unless an LLC agreement provides otherwise or all members give written consent, a person ceases to be a member of an LLC when the person makes an assignment for the benefit of creditors, files a voluntary petition in bankruptcy, is adjudicated insolvent or bankrupt, or fails to contest a petition seeking his or her reorganization, liquidation, dissolution, or similar relief.

Alabama Registered Agent

An Alabama LLC must continuously maintain an agent for service of process in the state.  A commercial registered agent service may act as an Alabama registered agent.

Conclusion

Because of the advantages of forming an LLC in Alabama, over 15,000 new LLCs are formed in the state each year. Should you wish to have more flexibility and protection, you may instead form a Delaware LLC even if you operate in Alabama. What are the advantages of a Delaware LLC? (Delaware LLC) We can then help you file an application for registration to do business in Alabama with your Delaware LLC.

Alabama LLC Act Statutory References
§ 10-12-2“Definitions”
§ 10-12-4“Powers”
§ 10-12-9“Formation”
§ 10-12-10“Articles of Organization”
§ 10-12-12“Filing”
§ 10-12-15“Registered Office and Registered Agent To Be Maintained”
§ 10-12-17“Service of Process”
§ 10-12-21“Agency Power of Members and Managers; Duties”
§ 10-12-22Management of the Limited Liability Company; Creation of Classes; Voting; Rights; Meetings”
§ 10-12-24“Operating Agreements”
§ 10-12-28“Sharing of Profits and Losses”
§ 10-12-31“Admission of Additional Members”
§ 10-12-32“Transferability of Member’s Interest”
§ 10-12-33“Right of Assignee To Become Member”
§ 10-12-35“Member’s Financial Rights Subject to Charging Order”
§ 10-12-36“Cessation of Membership”
§ 10-12-47“Registration”
§ 10-12-52Transacting Business Without Registration”