How to Establish an LLC Yourself: The Ultimate Guide - Elizabeth Stapleton
Elizabeth Stapleton
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How to Establish an LLC Yourself: The Ultimate Guide

Nothing in this site or resources made available are to be considered legal advice. The information included on this site is for informational and educational purposes only.

If you are working for yourself or running your own business, you may hear the term LLC thrown around. Generally, as people telling you your business should be an LLC. But what is an LLC and how complicated is it establish an LLC? 

First, LLC stands for Limited Liability Company; I'll explain more in a sec. Second, it's easy to set up an LLC yourself, you don't have to hire a lawyer, but you certainly could if it would make you feel better. 

What is an LLC?

As I already mentioned, LLC stands for limited liability company. What that means is that if somebody goes after your business, like in a lawsuit, your personal assets are protected. You won't be held personally accountable for the companies debts or liabilities. 

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So why the limited part? Well, it can vary by state, but generally unlike a corporation, if a member of the LLC dies for files for bankruptcy the LLC has to be dissolved.

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Additionally, an LLC acts differently in that it allows for flow-through taxation. Meaning the money is only taxed once. The money/income flows through to the LLC owner or member, and they pay the usual income tax and other taxes that apply.

Unlike a corporation which is taxed on its revenues then pays you and you are also taxed, resulting in double taxation.

How to Establish an LLC

If you want to establish an LLC, then your state's Secretary of State website is going to be your best friend. Though to be honest, not all secretary of state websites are created equal. It can sometimes be tough to locate, so I've linked to the various states websites below. 

But before we get to that, let me walk you through the general steps to creating an LLC.

Make Sure Your Desired Business Name is Available

Once in the Corporations section, run a search on the name you want to use for your business. If it is already being used, you are almost guaranteed to have your LLC application turned down. Though there can be some exceptions.

Find Out If You Can Apply Online or If You Have to Do So by Mail

Most states allow you to submit the documents necessary to establish an LLC online. However, you will want to find out the correct process.

While reading up on the process, you will also likely learn what documents you will need to submit to establish your LLC.

It is typically an Articles of Organization or Certificate of Organization.

Complete Your Articles of Organization

Again depending on the state, these may be called Certificate of Organization or some other name.

The Certificate of Organization usually asks for:

  • the name of the company,
  • location,
  • name of the owner,
  • and name and contact information for an agent.

It may also require you to describe your business briefly. If you are struggling with what to write as a description, you can use the corporation's search to find similar businesses and see what they wrote. 

Submit Your Articles of Organization with the Required Fee

A fee is almost always required to register an LLC.

However, the cost of the fee varies greatly by state.

Some states it may be as low as $45, others can be as high as $500. This fee is typically recurring annually so make sure you set aside this amount during the year so you can renew your registration.

Wait

Depending on the state, how long you have to wait to find out if your registration has been accepted can vary, especially if you had to submit it via snail mail. Though I've seen same day responses for LLC registrations submitted online. 

Why Do I Always Hear About Delaware?

One of the reasons big companies register in Delaware is because Delaware offers Series LLCs which I won't get into today. I will say that if you are a new business owner, then unless you actually live in Delaware, there is no need to establish an LLC in Delaware. 

If you do register in Delaware, you will likely still be required to register as a foreign LLC in your home state. Meaning you just have to pay more in registration fees each year. 

That's It

While you can certainly hire a lawyer, as you can see, you can establish an LLC in your state without too much difficulty. Just make sure to read up on your Secretary of State's website. 

State by State

Alabama | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Alaska | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $250
Arizona | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $50
Arkansas | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $45
California | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $70
Colorado | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $50
Connecticut | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $120
Delaware | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $90
Florida | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $120
Georgia | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Hawaii | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $50
Idaho | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Illinois | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $400
Indiana | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Iowa | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $50
Kansas | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee =$50
Kentucky | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $40
Louisiana | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Maine | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $175
Maryland | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Massachusetts | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $500
Michigan | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $50
Minnesota | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $155
Mississippi | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $50
Missouri | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $50
Montana | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $70
Nebraska | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Nevada | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $75
New Hampshire | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing Fee = $100
New Jersey | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $125
New Mexico | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $50
New York | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $200  
North Carolina | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $125
North Dakota | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $135
Ohio | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $99
Oklahoma | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Oregon | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Pennsylvania | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $125
Rhode Island | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $150
South Carolina | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $110
South Dakota | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $150
Tennessee | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $300
Texas | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $300
Utah | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $70
Vermont | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $125
Virginia | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Washington | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $200
West Virginia | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100
Wisconsin | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $130
Wyoming | Secretary of State Corporations Website | Filing fee = $100

Last updated: Sept. 5, 2018

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

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how to start a business | Do i need to incorporate | do I need to register my business | llc | Scorp | sole proprietor
how to start a business | Do i need to incorporate | do I need to register my business | llc | Scorp | sole proprietor

About the Author Elizabeth Stapleton

Elizabeth Stapleton is the founder and voice behind Less Debt More Wine and ElizabethStapleton.com. She is a Pinterest marketer, online entrepreneur, and recovering attorney whose writing has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, The Huffington Post, The Penny Hoarder, Budgets Are Sexy, Credit Sesame, and Magnify Money. Additionally, she has been quoted in articles on Business Insider, Student Loan Hero, and Nerd Wallet.

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