1. Introduction to Washington LLCs
2. LLC Protections
3. Naming the LLC
4. Choosing a Registered Agent
5. Filing the Certificate of Formation

Forming a WA LLC is easy and affordable. However, there are certain requirements that must be followed, similar to other states. Here are the necessary steps to take.

Introduction to Washington LLCs

Parties who are interested need to fill out the proper forms and register with the Secretary of State. They should pay all required fees and make sure they meet the formation and naming requirements. Companies can do this themselves, or they can hire a business formation service. There are none of the formalities of directors, officers, or yearly minutes that corporations have. Sole proprietors would be wise to have an LLC so they can have personal liability protection. Certain steps must be taken to keep the business in compliance after the LLC is formed.

LLC Protections

All LLCs in Washington are regulated by chapter 25.15 RCW. This chapter ensures managers and members don't have personal liability unless they purposely break the law. They are protected from settlements, fines, judgments, and penalties of the LLC as long as they followed the law. The chapter states that members can't take abnormal distributions if they know the LLC can't meet the company's financial responsibilities. This is known as fraudulent transfer of assets.

Naming the LLC

The first and most essential step when forming the limited liability company is naming it. Once the name is picked, it should be searched for online to see if it's available. The name should also make sense based on the business venture and be able to be searched by clients easily. One of the following should be included:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • Limited Liability Company

It's important to note that some words are restricted, such as "bank," "university," and "attorney." If these are to be used in the name of the limited liability company, additional paperwork is required. A licensed individual will also have to be part of the LLC, such as a lawyer or a doctor. Some names are not to be used at all, including "FBI," "Secret Service," and "Treasury." These might cause confusion to the general public regarding whether the business is a state or federal agency. The name can be searched for on the State of Washington's website to see if it's available.

The domain name should also be obtained if it's available so no one else can take it in the future. This should be done even if the company doesn't plan on making a website anytime soon. The business should also set up an email address with a professional email system so future clients can contact them. The name can be reserved for up to 180 days when a Name Reservation is filed. This must be done through the mail with the Washington Secretary of State, and a fee of $30 must be included.

Choosing a Registered Agent

A registered agent must be chosen for the limited liability company. The agent is a business or person who will receive and send any legal papers on the LLC's behalf. These papers include state filings and service of process of legal action in case the company is sued. The agent must be either a corporation who is authorized to conduct business in the state or a Washington State resident. A member from the LLC can also be the registered agent if they wish. The member will need to sign when the paperwork is filed.

Filing the Certificate of Formation

The Certificate of Formation will need to be filed in order to register the LLC. This can be done in-person, online, or through the mail. A PDF form is provided by the Washington Secretary of State to use. There also is a simple to use WA Online Wizard for forming the LLC. It can be found on the Washington LLC Agency database or downloaded off the website, printed off, and mailed.

If the form is filed by mail, the fee is $180. Filing online costs $200 and will be processed in two to three days. Filing with a credit card online with expedited service costs $230. The certificate must have a name with a registered address that fits all the state requirements.

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