Forming the legal ownership structure of a business is a critical component of any start-up endeavor, and forming a limited liability company is the structure of choice for a number of small businesses. The legal process involved with setting up an LLC can be quite pricey, but a number of self-filing options and doing much of the work yourself can significantly reduce this expense.
Use a Legal Assistant
Enlisting the services of an attorney often costs hundreds of dollars per hour, usually resulting in thousands of dollars of added expense when setting up a limited liability company. To ease this financial burden on new businesses, a number of legal structure consultant companies have appeared on the Internet. Specializing in building the structure of a new business, online business legal assistant sites promise to streamline the process of setting up an LLC, cutting costs to as little as $25, plus applicable state filing fees. While these companies routinely review the business structure and all applicable forms, they are generally not a viable substitute for authentic legal advice. Still, the basic legal assistance of one of these companies can be helpful for entrepreneurs on a budget and can significantly reduce the expense associated with setting up an LLC.
Self-File the LLC
While the services of a lawyer or legal assistant can be helpful in ensuring the company has the least liability in certain matters, simply registering the company with its home state as a limited liability company is a process that can be easily performed by the business owner. Some states allow entrepreneurs to legally create the LLC online, though other states may require business owners to complete a physical form and mail it to the state.
When registering directly with the state, some business owners may be asked if legal assistance has been sought.
Finally, online and mail registration of the LLC may avoid legal consultation and assistance fees, but most states require that business owners registering a new company still pay basic state filing fees that may range from less than $100 to more than $500.
File in Another State
Some entrepreneurs, especially those in highly taxed areas, choose to take advantage of more favorable tax and legal environments by creating their company in another state. Many states have no requirement that the company actually maintain an office inside the state to incorporate or form an LLC, but those that do will often accept a post office box or mail forwarding address.
A number of online sites maintain a list of state filing fees and other requirements, giving entrepreneurs a state-by-state breakdown of costs associated with setting up an LLC. While each state maintains its own business structuring information, the legal reference site FindLaw.com maintains a comprehensive list of links to state websites and other pertinent information.