What Is a Series LLC

A Series LLC is like a conventional LLC, but with a twist. It allows for the creation of separate compartments or ‘series’, each with its own assets, members, and even a unique business purpose.

Known for its distinct compartments, the series limited liability company offers the potential for flexibility and growth in business. However, the number crunching and legalities surrounding it might seem daunting. Fear not, we’ve got you covered. 

With our collective experience in the financial field, we’ll delve into the specifics, shedding light on the complex structure of a series LLC. From the detailed legal framework to potential tax implications, we’ll provide a clear and concise walkthrough. Let’s get started.

Brief Overview

  • A Series LLC is a unique form of limited liability company that allows for the creation of separate “series” or compartments within the parent company, each with its own assets and liabilities.
  • Some states, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, permit the formation of Series LLCs, offering benefits like asset protection and flexible tax treatment.
  • Series LLCs are beneficial for real estate investors, as they can offer liability protection, and for entrepreneurs managing multiple businesses, reducing paperwork and fees. However, they come with complexities and legal considerations compared to traditional LLC structures.

What is a Series LLC?

A series LLC is a pioneering business structure that allows a single entity to establish separate entities with distinct assets and liabilities. It offers flexibility, asset protection, and cost savings, making it ideal for real estate investors and entrepreneurs managing multiple properties or ventures within one entity.

The Structure of a Series LLC

When explaining the concept of a series LLC to our customers, we noticed that everything became clear once they understood its structure, which primarily consists of a master LLC and an array of subsidiary LLCs. So, let’s delve into these components further: 

  • Master LLC: This is the main LLC that forms and oversees the operation of the series. The master LLC is essentially the parent company under whose umbrella the subsidiaries exist.
  • Subsidiary LLCs: The subsidiary or series LLCs are individual entities that operate under the parent LLC. Each subsidiary LLC operates independently, with its own assets, operations, and liabilities separate from the master LLC and other subsidiaries.

Which States Permit Series LLCs?

From our in-depth research, the availability and regulations of a series LLC vary greatly from state to state. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the specific series LLC laws in your state before proceeding.

Here are the states that permit to establish series LLCs starting from a master LLC: 

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Utah
  • Wyoming.

Business Types That Thrive as Series LLCs

While the series LLC concept is becoming increasingly popular, as we dug deeper into this matter, it became clearer to us that some industries, such as real estate and unrelated businesses within a company, find series LLC more beneficial.

This is primarily due to the flexibility and liability shield offered by this business entity. 

  1. Real Estate 

Real estate investors often find the structure of a series LLC appealing. As per a study published in the University of Iova Journal, the use of a series LLC consists of treating each property as a separate LLC, thus protecting each rental property from the liabilities of the others.

For example, if one property faces a lawsuit, the assets of the other properties in the parent LLC remain untouched due to the liability protection this type of organization offers.

However, we need to stress that the level of liability protection offered by a series LLC varies greatly from state to state, as not all states recognize series LLCs formed under other state laws.

Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the particular series LLC statutes in your state or consult an expert before proceeding.

2. Unrelated Businesses 

For entrepreneurs running multiple companies or business ventures, forming a series LLC allows each venture to operate as a separate entity under one business entity, thus reducing the annual fees and paperwork.

Each of the series LLCs can have separate members, conduct business independently, and maintain separate books, making it a popular choice. 

However, our expert analysis indicates that a series LLC comes with its own set of complexities. For instance, each series is required to maintain a separate bank account and a separate series LLC operating agreement under the Uniform Protected Series Act. 

Despite these challenges, the benefits of a Series LLC business structure make it a compelling choice for many business owners. But we suggest thorough research or consultation with an expert before deciding on this business structure.

Pros of Series LLC 

If you form a series LLC, you can explore benefits that other business structures lack:

  • Cost Savings: Compared to running multiple LLCs, forming a series LLC can lead to significantly lower costs. This is because each “series” operates like a separate company but under the umbrella of one LLC. This can greatly reduce the overall formation and annual filing fees.
  • Liability Protection Benefits: Each series in an LLC can have separate business assets, including real and personal property. This provides a strong shield for protecting assets from lawsuits or creditors.
  • Flexibility: Series LLCs offer the flexibility to structure the management of each series differently. Each individual series can have its own members and a separate operating agreement. Moreover, as this study has shown, if one or several series LLCs close, this doesn’t affect the master LLC or the other separate LLCs.

Cons of Series LLC 

However, we found that the series LLC structure also presents some challenges. 

  1. Legal Complexity: Setting up and maintaining a series LLC can be more complex than a traditional LLC due to the separate operating agreement for each series, as well as the need to clearly separate assets and liabilities between series.
  2. Uncertain Legal Precedent: Since the series LLC is a relatively new structure, there is not as much legal precedent to guide businesses, which could lead to uncertainty in some situations.
  3. Recognition: Not all states recognize the Series LLC structure, which can present challenges for businesses operating in multiple states.

How To Form a Series LLC

For small business owners exploring business structures, the series LLC can offer flexibility and protection. However, forming a series LLC requires careful steps and understanding. Let’s delve in. 

1. Choose the Right Name for Your Series LLC 

Choosing a business name isn’t just about creativity. The name should comply with the state’s LLC naming regulations. It should also be distinguishable from other businesses in the state.

Our hands-on exploration in the field has shown that a unique, relevant, and memorable name can significantly contribute to your business’s success. 

2. Secure a Registered Agent 

A registered agent is a must-have for any LLC formation. This person or business entity is responsible for receiving official legal documents on your behalf.

In our years of advising LLCs, we’ve seen the importance of selecting a reliable registered agent to ensure smooth operations and avoid fines derived from missing tax deadlines. 

3. File the Necessary Paperwork 

Filing the necessary paperwork is a crucial part of setting up a Series LLC. The Articles of Organization, usually filed with the secretary of state, should include the name of your LLC, its purpose, and details about the registered agent.

Some states require additional paperwork for each series within the LLC, so we recommend performing thorough research before you start the filing process.

4. Create an Operating Agreement

The series LLC’s operating agreement is a binding contract that governs the internal workings of your Series LLC. It should include specifics about the membership interests, management, profit-sharing, and dissolution of each series.

You will also need to create an operating agreement for each separate entity.

The Master LLC Operating Agreement should include:

  • Individual names of subsidiaries
  • Membership particulars
  • Organizational management
  • Accounting specifications
  • Voting procedures
  • Structure of subsidiary entities
  • Overview of liability safeguarding

The Subsidiary Operating Agreements should include:

  • Parent LLC’s name
  • Particulars of membership
  • Details of accounting
  • Overview of liability shielding
  • Organizational management arrangement

5. File Tax Returns on Parent LLC 

Tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service is a complex aspect of managing a series LLC.

Each series is usually considered a separate entity for tax purposes, but, as we witnessed multiple times, the final rules depend on your state’s regulations and the specifics of your LLC operating agreement. 

FAQs

How does a series LLC differ from a regular LLC?

A series LLC is unique as it allows the creation of separate divisions, each with its own assets and liabilities. Unlike a single LLC, each series can operate independently, reducing the risk to the entire company.

Can I open LLC series subsidiaries in other states?

Yes, you can establish foreign series LLCs in other states, but their recognition varies. Some states honor series LLCs formed elsewhere, while others may not. Complying with the regulations of each state is crucial for legitimacy and protection.

What are the common uses of a series LLC?

Series LLCs are primarily used in the real estate sector to manage rental properties. They also find use in holding companies, mutual fund fields, and businesses with distinct profit centers.

Is opting for a series LLC a wise decision?

It depends on the nature of your business. Series LLCs are advantageous if you have multiple taxable entities. They offer the same protection as a regular LLC but with the flexibility of managing separate divisions.

Is a series LLC identical to an S-corp?

No, a Series LLC and an S-Corp have different ownership structures. While both limit liability, a series LLC can form multiple entities under one umbrella compared to an S-Corp which is one taxable entity.

Carla Baker

Carla Baker

With an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and a proven track record, our Co-Founder brings expert guidance to new small businesses and LLCs. Her portfolio showcases a history of successfully launching and managing diverse ventures, while her passion lies in empowering others to navigate the world of business.