An investment LLC operating agreement is commonly used by investors who own a limited liability company (LLC). The operating agreement of an LLC outlines the most important information about the business.

What Is an LLC's Operating Agreement?

An operating agreement isn't required by any state to file as part of the business registration process, but it's helpful to use one when you're forming an LLC. This document is separate from the other paperwork used to legally register a business. This important document serves a similar function to the articles of incorporation that are compiled by the owners of corporations. All members of an LLC will sign the operating agreement, including investment and operating members. After they sign, the document functions as a legal and official contract that binds each member to the terms.

The document also informs the state in which the LLC is operating where it will be conducting its business activities throughout the company's life. An operating agreement serves to protect the limited liability that is one of the benefits of forming this type of business entity.

In the document, you should outline a few key points:

  • How the business will be operated.
  • The operating members' responsibilities and rights.
  • Names of the investment members.
  • Those who will be responsible for managing the business.

An LLC operating agreement serves as a snapshot of the business in its early stages, with information about how it will be operated and governed.

What Happens Without an LLC Operating Agreement?

In some cases, the members of an LLC will choose not to file an operating agreement. This is especially true of LLCs formed to manage or own real estate. However, if you are a member of an LLC and you choose not to file an operating agreement, the state in which your business operates will have laws, terms, and regulations for LLCs that automatically apply to your business.

If you do not have a written operating agreement in place, any state rules for operating LLCs will prevail if any legal action or disputes arise during the course of business. All states have their own statutes that outline LLC laws and govern the operation of these business entities. Some of these laws have been put into place as the result of court rulings, while others become law when legislators propose them and they are subsequently approved.

One of the issues that can arise when the members of an LLC don't file an operating agreement is confusion about what portion of the business is owned by each manager or partner. Failure to use an operating agreement can also cause disputes about what aspects of operating the business are delegated to each member and manager. If a legal issue comes up about profits or ownership, the state could apply percentages of ownership that wouldn't necessarily represent the time or financial investments made by managers, investors, or members.

When you create an operating agreement, you can avoid these issues by including the investment and ownership percentages of each member and manager. If any legal dispute arises, the court will use the document to determine what portion is owned by each individual involved with the business.

What Is an LLC?

An LLC is a type of business formation that provides the benefits of a corporation and the simplified operation of a partnership. Both the investors and the operators of an LLC can serve as owners, called members. All the business losses and profits of an LLC are passed through the business to its members without being subject to taxes. The members report these amounts on their individual tax returns. An operating member of an LLC can receive payment for the services they provide to the business, as well as receive a portion of the profits with the LLC's passive investors.

Investors can receive a set percentage of all profit distributions as outlined in the operating agreement of the LLC. If the business incurs any losses, the document will also state whether the members have to repay those losses, along with information about how they must repay the losses and when payment is due.

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