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From mine owners to ski rental shops, Utah business owners can protect their personal assets from liabilities incurred by their business by creating an LLC.

FORMING A UTAH LLC

Choosing a Name

Utah LLC names must contain “limited liability company” or “limited company, which can have “limited” abbreviated “ltd.” and company abbreviated as “co.,” or “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “LC.” The name must also be distinguishable from all other business entities and “persons” who have records with the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code. The name cannot contain words implying a government affiliation, nor can the name contain other corporate designators or “Olympic,” “Olympiad,” “Citius Altius Fortius,” “university,” “college,” “institute” or “institution.”

Filing a Certificate of Organization

Any person can form a Utah LLC by filing a certificate of organization with the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code. This certificate of organization, which requires a $70 filing fee, must include the LLC name, the address of the LLC’s principal office, whether the LLC will be a Series LLC, the LLC’s purpose, the name and address of the LLC’s registered agent, and the names and addresses of managers or members who will manage, along with the signature of a member or manager.

Operating Agreement

Utah law says that all LLCs have an operating agreement that governs the LLC affairs. This agreement is written, oral, or implied between all members. Incnow recommends that the operating agreement is written in order to reduce conflict.

Ongoing Upkeep

Employer Identification Number: If a Utah LLC is going to hire people or has more than 1 member, it will need an EIN. This can be obtained from the I.R.S. directly, or some incorporation services like Incnow will obtain it for you.

Annual Report (Starting 2014): Utah LLCs must submit to the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code an annual report stating the LLC name, the address of the LLC’s principal office, the name of at least one governing person, and the name and address of the registered agent. This comes with a $15 filing fee.

WHY FORM AN LLC IN UTAH?

The Benefits and Advantages of Creating a Utah LLC

Introduction

The Utah LLC Act gives LLC members contractual freedom to customize their contributions 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.

Utah Has a Growing Economy

Each year, Utah forms over 26,000 new LLCs.  Utah has over 95,000 active LLCs.  According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Utah ranks sixth on the small business survival index, and as the eighth best tax and regulatory environment.

Advantages of Forming a Utah LLC

The Utah LLC Act gives members contractual freedom to create voting and non-voting classes of membership and customize their capital contributions and shares of profits and losses.  Section 48-3-110 provides that an LLC agreement governs the “relations among the members as members and between the members and the limited liability company.”  Members can use this flexibility to tailor their income streams and risks of loss and 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 organization with the Division of Corporations.  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 organization.

Duration

The Act provides for an LLC’s unlimited life.  Section 48-3-104 specifically states that an LLC has perpetual duration.  An LLC’s existence can therefore outlive its members’ lifetimes.

Dealing with Business Partners

The Utah LLC Act gives members contractual freedom to customize the duties each party to the LLC agreement owes to the other parties.  Section 48-3-409 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 conduct, intentional misconduct, or intentional violation of law.

The Act gives members and managers contractual freedom to “opt out” of most of the default rules, however, if they include provisions in an LLC agreement that modify the duties established in section 48-3-409, and the provisions are not unconscionable or against Utah public policy.  Under section 48-3-110, an LLC agreement may restrict or eliminate the duty of loyalty.  In addition, an LLC agreement may (1) “[i]dentify specific types or categories of activities that do not violate the duty of loyalty,” and (2) “specify the method by which a specific act or transaction that would otherwise violate the duty of loyalty may be authorized or ratified by one or more disinterested and independent persons after full disclosure of all material facts.”  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.  Moreover, an LLC agreement may “alter the duty of care, except to authorize intentional misconduct or knowing violation of law.”  Alternatively, an LLC agreement may expand a member’s or manager’s duties and liabilities.

Preventing Unwanted Business Partners

The Utah 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 receive only the distributions to which the assignor would have been entitled, and all the other members must consent to the assignee becoming a member.

Creditors Only Get Passive Rights, Not Control Rights

If a judgment creditor of a member obtains a charging order against the member’s membership interest, it constitutes a lien on the membership interest and a right to receive only the distributions to which the member would have been entitled.  A court may foreclose on the lien and order the membership interest to be sold.  A purchaser at the foreclosure sale obtains only the transferable interest and cannot become a member unless the non-transferring members consent.  Under section 48-3-503, obtaining a charging order is the judgment creditor’s exclusive remedy.

In addition, the Act states that unless an LLC agreement provides otherwise or all members give consent, a person ceases to be a member of an LLC when the person makes an assignment for the benefit of creditors, becomes a debtor in bankruptcy, or fails to contest a petition seeking “the appointment of a trustee, receiver, or liquidator of the person or of all or substantially all of the person’s property.”  These events are considered “events causing dissociation.”

Utah Registered Agent

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

Conclusion

Because of the advantages of forming an LLC in Utah, over 26,000 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 Utah.  What are the advantages of a Delaware LLC?  (Delaware LLC Advantages).  We can then help you file an application for registration to do business in Utah with your Delaware LLC (Form Delaware LLC).

Utah LLC Act Statutory References
§ 16-17-203“Appointment of Registered Agent”
§ 48-3-102“Definitions”
§ 48-3-104“Nature, Purpose, and Duration of Limited Liability Company”
§ 48-3-110“Operating Agreement—Scope, Function, and Limitations”
§ 48-3-201“Formation of Limited Liability Company—Certificate of Organization”
§ 48-3-209“Annual Report for Division”
§ 48-3-401“Becoming a Member”
§ 48-3-404“Sharing of and Right to Distributions Before Dissolution”
§ 48-3-409“Standards of Conduct for Members and Managers”
§ 48-3-502“Transfer of Transferable Interest”
§ 48-3-503“Charging Order”
§ 48-3-602“Events Causing Dissociation”
§ 48-3-802“Application for Certificate of Authority”
§ 48-3-808“Effect of Failure To Have Certificate of Authority”