The High-touch Legal Services® Blog…for Startups!

© 2009-2017 Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law

Future Services Can’t Buy Shares in CA but *Can* Buy LLC Membership

Label saying "100% free", symbolizing buying an equity interest by future services rather than cashFuture services seem like a great no-cost way to buy equity in a startup. In California, however, whether you legally can buy equity with future services depends on whether the startup is a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC).

Corporations Code Section 409(a)(1) specifies the types of “consideration” that can be paid for corporate shares. These include, for example, “money paid; labor done; [and] services actually rendered to the corporation or for its benefit or in its formation or reorganization”.

However, “neither promissory notes of the purchaser [subject to certain exceptions] nor future services shall constitute payment or part payment for shares of the corporation“. So a California corporation cannot grant shares in exchange for future services.

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How Do We Add a New LLC Member?

Photo of signing a contract, symbolizing amending an operating agreement to add a new LLC memberRecently, I have seen several limited liability company (LLC) members ask, online, how they can add a new LLC member. This post provides the answer, which is pretty simple.

Short answer: One must amend the Operating Agreement to add a new LLC member.

Slightly longer answer: An Operating Agreement (OA) can be oral or written. A written OA is better because it clearly documents the members’ agreement concerning the LLC.

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Who Can Sign a Contract for an LLC?

Photo of hand holding a pen, symbolizing who can sign a contract

Several months ago, I answered the question Who Can Sign Contracts for a Corporation? This post addresses who can sign a contract for a limited liability company (LLC).

Section references below have been updated to reflect California’s new LLC law that took effect on January 1, 2014 (see RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014).

The LLC’s Articles of Organization may address who can sign a contract, but this rarely occurs. The subject is more likely to be addressed in the Operating Agreement.

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Attention LLC Members: You Have the Right to Be Heard

Sample LLC Notice of Meeting of Members

I have written about annual meetings of corporations’ shareholders (Annual Meetings: The Basics). Although limited liability companies (LLCs) have no obligation to hold, and typically do not hold, annual meetings of their members, meetings of members can take place.

Section references? below have been updated to reflect California?s new LLC law that took effect on January 1, 2014 (see RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014).

For California LLCs,? meetings of members are governed by Corporations Code Section 17704.07.

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A Member can Withdraw from an LLC, Despite the Operating Agreement

Photo of an exit sign, symbolizing the right of a member to withdraw from an LLCFrom time to time, I am asked how a member of a limited liability company (LLC) can stop being a member. In legal terms, this is referred to as a member wishing to withdraw from an LLC.

Section references below have been updated to reflect California’s new LLC law that took effect on January 1, 2014 (see RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014).

Under this new law, the term “withdraw from a limited liability company” was changed to “dissociate as a member” or “withdraw as a member”.

A well-written Operating Agreement will address this question directly. It will specify the circumstances under which members may withdraw from an LLC, and the consequences of withdrawal.

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Assessing Personal Liability – Read Formation Documents Carefully!

A client, majority shareholder in a California corporation, asked whether there was any way to make a minority shareholder pay part of the corporation’s losses to date. In this particular case, the answer was “no” – but the question got me thinking about when a corporate shareholder or LLC member might be have personal liability beyond the amount payable for the ownership interest.

The LLC section reference and content below have been updated to reflect California?s new LLC law that took effect on January 1, 2014 (see RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014).

A century ago, corporations routinely issued assessable shares, i.e., shares that carried an obligation for the shareholder to pay additional amounts to the corporation under certain circumstances, such as to cover losses or to buy property. Today, however, almost all shares are non-assessable.

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Can I compete with my own LLC?

I recently had a Q-and-A dialogue on Avvo with an LLC member-manager who had a falling out with the other (50%) member and wanted to know whether he could form a separate business that would compete with the existing LLC. An edited version of our exchange appears below.

Q. I have an LLC with a partner. We each own 50% of the business (its an e-commerce store) and we’re member-managers. I’d like to buy him out, but his price is higher than I’m willing to pay. I have been pondering starting another e-commerce store selling kind of the same thing. Question is a) Would an e-commerce business out there competing for new customers constitute a breach of fiduciary duty? b) Would it be possible to rescind title as manager in the LLC which would eliminate that non compete fiduciary duty of a manager?

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Can we kick one of the members out of our LLC?

I recently ran across a situation where several members of a limited liability company wanted to get rid of a fellow member whose disruptive behavior was harming the LLC, but they did not know whether or how they could kick him out.

The section reference below has been updated to reflect California?s new LLC law that took effect on January 1, 2014 (see RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014).

California Corporations Code Sections 17706.02(b) and (c) say that an LLC operating agreement may provide for dissociation of a member. Upon dissociation, the member loses the right to participate in the LLC’s activities and holds any transferable interest in the LLC as a transferee.

Regrettably, the operating agreement in question did not address termination of memberships. As a result, the LLC was stuck with the trouble-maker.

The bottom line: At a minimum, an LLC operating agreement should include a provision for terminating memberships in the event of a serious breach, such as failure to make a required capital contribution.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.