A California LLC form is necessary when you set up your limited liability company in the state of California. However, before you fill it out, you need to make some important decisions and take care of a few other tasks. You must do the following:

  • Choose your LLC's name. 
  • Select a Registered Agent for your LLC.
  • Complete your filing for the Articles of Organization.
  • Complete your filing for the initial statement of information.
  • Write an operating agreement for your LLC.
  • Get an Employer Identification Number.
  • Make sure you understand the requirement for LLC organizer.
  • Choose your LLC's management and ownership structure.

Choosing Your California LLC Name

You'll need to do some research before selecting a name for your business. One consideration is how well the name fits your type of business, and how easy it will be for potential clients to find it. No matter what you choose for a name, it must include L.L.C., LLC, or Limited Liability Company

There are words you may not use as part of the name as well, such as Bank, University, or Attorney. Of course, if you are properly licensed, you may use these words, but extra paperwork may be required. You also may not use words such as Treasury, Secret Service, or other terms that may confuse your LLC with an official agency. Your LLC may not use terms referring to other types of business entity, such as “trust,” “incorporated,” or “corporation.” These rules must be followed closely.

Aside from these rules, you need to make sure that nobody has already taken the name you want. This can be accomplished with a search on the State of California website. Your choice of name must be different enough from any other registered LLCs that it may not be confused with those businesses. If your LLC name is available, you can also reserve your domain name. You should do this even if you don't have immediate plans to create a website for your business, mainly because you'll also be preventing other people from grabbing it. Also, consider how the business name will work in an email address.

Choosing Your Registered Agent

Also referred to as an agent for the service of process, a Registered Agent is either a person or another business who is willing to receive and send any legal papers your LLC requires. These may involve legal actions and documents that are filed with the state.

Qualifications for the Registered Agent are as follows:

  •  Must be a resident of California, or a business authorized to do business in California.
  • Must be an adult who is competent and available from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at a physical address located in California. 
  • Must not use a P.O. Box for the address where they will receive official documents for the LLC.

Often, LLC members choose to use a professional Registered Agent so they won't have to worry about being available as needed. Also, a lot of junk mail is typically sent to this representative since the information is public record, and this helps LLC members to avoid it.

Filing Your Articles of Organization

The State of California requires LLCs to file Articles of Organization. This can be done in person or by mail. Before you do this, decide if your LLC is going to be managed by members or managers. The fee for this filing is $70, payable to the California Secretary of State. You can find the form on the Secretary of State's website, along with the address where you can drop it off, and a host of other information as well.

The Articles of Organization is a one-page form that includes details about your company. You'll need your company's name and address, organizer, registered agent, and method of management. Member names do not need to be filed in the state of California, and you do not need to publish a notice.

Filing Your Operating Agreement

In California, you must also file an operating agreement. This is a document that outlines the operating procedures and ownership of the LLC. According to state law, your manager-managed LLC will only be valid if this fact is declared in both the Operating Agreement and Articles of Organization. 

This is an important document, which lays out how the business is run, including how it is governed, how the capital is managed, and how profits are distributed to members. 

If you need more information or help with a California LLC form, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.