LLC Articles of Organization Template: The Need To Know

You own a small business, and now you’re up late Googling for an articles of organization template in an effort to make your life easier. How did you get here? Well, there’s a familiar small business origin story: you start a small business with dreams of being your own boss, making your own rules, and letting your innovation flag fly.

With stars in your eyes and self-doubt under your boot soles, you set forth on the exciting path to entrepreneurship. But then you’re immediately hit with a reality check—and mountains of confusing paperwork.

If the thought of setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and filing articles of organization for your small business feels like doing a scavenger hunt in the dark, you’re in good company. In fact, even the mention of an LLC and articles of organization might sound like one big overwhelming shrug. What even are they? And why do you need them? 

In this handy guide, we’ll deep dive into LLC articles of organization, how to write and submit them, and how to stay compliant regardless of what state you live in. 

Bonus: We’re throwing in a free articles of organization template to help simplify the process. 

Are you ready to learn all about LLC articles of organization? If the answer is an enthusiastic “Yep!”—or even a grudging “I guess”—then let’s journey onward!

What is an article of organization for an LLC?

First off, let’s explain what an LLC is. The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) defines an LLC as “a business structure allowed by state statute. Each state may use different regulations, you should check with your state if you are interested in starting an LLC.” 

Still unclear? Basically, an LLC protects the assets of its members—you, the small business owner—from lawsuits and creditors concerned with the company’s business debts. LLCs combine the characteristics of a corporation with those of a partnership or sole proprietorship. 

Now, what in the world is an LLC article of organization? It’s a formal legal document used to establish an LLC and filed within your business’s state

Articles of organization provide your state government with required information like your business name, registered agent, purpose, and management structure to register your business as an LLC. Think of it as your business’s birth certificate when you introduce it to the world. Without it, your LLC doesn’t actually exist in a legal sense. 

And don’t forget, your state will typically charge a fee ranging from $50–$200 when filing articles of organization, and requirements and terminology will vary from state to state. 

Tip: Start by going to your state’s Office of the Secretary of State website (example: Illinois) and finding out if articles of organization are alternatively referred to as a corporate charter, certificate of formation or certificate of organization so you can easily find your document.

What’s the difference between articles of organization and articles of incorporation?

Imagine you’re throwing a welcome party for your small business. Think of articles of organization and articles of incorporation as the invitations you send out to your personal and professional network—aka the state government. 

The style of party you throw relates to the type of business you’re starting: articles of organization for an LLC are like a casual backyard BBQ, while articles of incorporation are more like a swanky black-tie gala when you form a corporation.

Here’s a breakdown of both:

Articles of organization.

Typically include the LLC’s name, its purpose, its duration (if not perpetual), the names and addresses of its members (or owners), and other essential information regarding the structure and operation of the LLC.

Pros:

  • Flexibility: LLCs offer more flexibility in terms of management and taxation. You can choose to be taxed as a partnership or a corporation, depending on what suits your business best.
  • Limited liability: Members typically aren’t liable for the debts and obligations of the LLC, protecting your personal assets.
  • Simplicity: Formation and ongoing compliance requirements are usually less formal compared to corporations, making it easier for small businesses.

Cons:

  • Self-employment taxes: Members may be subject to self-employment taxes on their entire share of profits.
  • Investor limitations: It may be more challenging to attract investors since LLCs can’t issue stock.

Articles of incorporation.

Typically include details like the corporation’s name, its purpose, the number and types of stock shares it’s authorized to issue, and the names and addresses of its initial directors.

Pros:

  • Access to capital: Corporations can issue stock, making it easier to attract investors and raise capital for growth.
  • Limited liability: Like with articles of organization, shareholders aren’t liable for the debts and obligations of the corporation, which protects personal assets.
  • Perpetual existence: Corporations can continue indefinitely, regardless of changes in ownership or management.

Cons:

  • Double taxation: The corporation has to pay taxes on its profits, and then shareholders pay taxes on dividends received.
  • Formal requirements: Corporations have more formalities and compliance requirements like holding regular meetings, maintaining corporate records, and filing annual reports.
  • Complexity: Formation and ongoing management can be more complex and costly compared to LLCs, especially for smaller businesses.

Ultimately, deciding between articles of organization and articles of incorporation depends on the nature of your business, your growth plans, and taxation considerations.

Stay tuned for your free articles of organization template at the end of this article.

How do you write articles of organization?

Now it’s time to put pen to paper—or, in most cases, fingertips to keyboard—and get writing. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. We got you. 

Follow this step-by-step guide on how to write articles of organization for your LLC. To make life even breezier, check out our free article of organization template. Again, make sure you’re following the specific requirements of your state (we can’t stress this enough). If you’re really at a loss, look online for an articles of organization example. 

1. Your business name.

Selecting a name for your small business may seem like the fun part, but it’s vital you do it properly by:

  • Complying with your state’s specific regulations. For example, in Oklahoma you can abbreviate LLC at the end of your business name, while in Kentucky you must spell it out (Limited Liability Company).
  • Choosing a unique name that not only captures your brand and appeals to your target audience, but also hasn’t already been registered in your state. Do a business name search to check for availability. 

2. The mailing address.

This will be your principal place of business and will require you to register a street address rather than just a P.O. box.

3. Name the registered agent.

The registered agent is the designated person or entity authorized to accept delivery of legal documents on behalf of the LLC, including tax forms, court documents, and other official state correspondence. This person can be a member of the LLC, or someone you hire through a professional registered agent service.

Extra info: Some states require registered agents to acknowledge their appointment with a signed statement of acceptance, so make sure you know for sure if you need one.

4. Date of formation and duration of LLC.

This date is usually determined when your articles of organization are filed and approved by your state, and officially establishes your business. Some states require you to include how long you plan to keep your LLC, but you can usually just label the duration as perpetual, meaning it will exist until you dissolve it. 

5. Management structure.

Who will manage your LLC: members or managers?

  • For member-managed LLCs, members (business owners) are responsible for all day-to-day operations like opening bank accounts and supervising employees.
  • For manager-managed LLCs, members appoint or hire a manager to run the business.

The right structure for your business will depend on factors like the size of your LLC, the availability of your members, how much control you’d prefer, and your privacy concerns. 

Note: Some states require the inclusion of each LLC member’s name and address. 

6. Purpose of company.

This section is for stating your business’s main objective, and the level of detail you’re required to include will depend on your state. Your statement of purpose can range from a broad “to conduct any and all lawful business” to something much more specific like “to engage in the business of floral design, retail, and services.” 

7. Liability.

This section provides a statement that confirms members and managers are not personally liable for debts and obligations of your small business. In most states, your personal assets like your house or car can’t be used to cover your business’s debts.

8. Signatures.

Still with us? Congratulations—you’ve made it to the final step! It’s now time to sign, seal, and deliver your articles of organization. All you need to do is ensure all organizing members and/or authorized representatives sign the document, either by hand or digitally through a secure e-signature software. 

Are the requirements for articles of organization the same in each state?

Long story short: No, the requirements for articles of organization are not the same in each state. But worry not—it’s relatively simple to figure out exactly what your article of organization needs to comply with state regulations. 

Visit the Secretary of State website for your state and download the articles of organization form. You’ll also find info on how to file the form, whether you can file online, and the cost of filing. There may be additional requirements specific to your state too, so make sure you read the instructions carefully.

How to file articles of organization.

Once you’ve gathered all relevant info and checked out the specific website for your state, you’ll know whether you can submit your articles of organization to the Secretary of State office via snail mail or online. 

Once approved, you’ll receive an official confirmation, which will either be a Certificate of Organization or your returned forms with a stamp that includes the filing number and date.

Free article of organization template for download.

Still feeling overwhelmed? We’ve included a downloadable article of organization template for you to fill out all relevant info and get your LLC started. Please keep in mind that this is a generic template and you should confirm your specific state requirements before filing.

Download your free articles of incorporation template here: Articles of organization free template

Or, download the Word version here: Homebase articles of organization free template

For LLC articles of organization examples based on your specific state, just do a simple online search and you’ll find plenty to choose from. Make sure to compare the sample articles of organization with the most updated laws in your state.

File your articles of organization.

You don’t have to keep feeling overwhelmed and confused by LLC articles of organization. With us as your guide, you’ll be able to file this important paperwork like the boss you are. In fact, you can entrust Homebase with so much more like HR and compliance, team scheduling and communication, and hiring.  

Wanna try us on for size? Check out our free basic plan

Good luck out there, business owners! You got this. 

Articles of organization template FAQS.

Do I need an attorney to file articles of organization?

No, articles of organization for LLC do not require an attorney. Taking a DIY approach is totally doable, especially with this guide in your back pocket. However, consulting legal counsel licensed in your state could be super useful if you want to ensure you’re doing everything right and staying compliant.

Is the term articles of organization the same as an LLC?

The term articles of organization is not the same as an LLC. Articles of organization are the legal documents you file with your state government that outline the basic structure and operation of your LLC. You need to file articles of organization to officially establish your LLC, which stands for Limited Liability Corporation, a form of business organization.

Does an LLC need articles of organization?

Yes, your LLC needs articles of organization to become official according to state laws. They give your business legal recognition and outline its structure—like a blueprint for your LLC! Without articles of organization, you don’t have a legally recognized LLC.

Should I use a template for my articles of organization?

The real question is: Why wouldn’t you use a template for your articles of organization? Using a template is a great place to start, and will help simplify the process overall, but always make sure to check your local state requirements to be on the safe side. You can also find a limited liability company articles of organization example online to supplement your template.

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