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

© 2009-2021 Dana H. Shultz

How Do We Issue LLC Membership Interests?

Logo for Quora where Dana Shultz answered a question about LLC membership interestsWhen one forms a limited liability company (LLC) without a lawyer, there is a high likelihood that LLC membership interests will not be issued properly. This post describes how to issue LLC membership interests. It is adapted from a Quora question about LLC membership vesting that I answered.

Properly-Issued LLC Membership Interests

If LLC membership interests are issued properly, one would expect to see several things. (more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Are LLC Memberships Securities that Must be Registered?

California Department of Corporations logo

The following are (somewhat edited) an Avvo question and my answer: Q. Is it necessary to file a Form D securities exemption when forming a California limited liability company (LLC) and only issuing an interest to the forming members?

A. The short answer is “no“. The somewhat longer answer is as follows: (more…)

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.

(more…)

Can I Assign My LLC Membership?

For Sale By Owner Sign

Recently I have received several questions about assigning LLC (limited liability company) memberships. Here is a brief summary of California law on this topic.

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 applicable statutes are Corporations Code Sections 17705.01-17705.04. If assignment of membership interests (known as “transferable interests” under RULLCA) is not covered in the LLC’s Articles of Organization or Operating Agreement, the the following statutory provisions apply:

Should We Issue LLC Membership Certificates?

Picture of LLC membership certificatesA friend recently asked whether his limited liability company, which was seeking investors, should issue LLC membership certificates.

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).

Here are the points that I made in my response. (more…)

Single-Member LLCs – What’s the Deal?

Logo for Avvo, where Dana Shultz answered a question about single-member LLCs

From time to time, I receive question from entrepreneurs about alleged deficiencies in single-member LLCs (limited liability companies).  (As is discussed below, single-member LLCs are different from multi-member LLCs.) This post is adapted from a question about single-member LLCs that I answered on Avvo.

Single-Member LLCs Provide Limited Liability Protection

Q. What is a best way to include a relative-foreigner as LLC member in CA? I formed single-member LLC in CA. Unfortunately I found later that single-member LLCs do not provide usual limited liability protection. (more…)

Which Financial Information Must an LLC Provide to its Members?

Photo of a portion of a balance sheet, symbolizing financial information that an LLC must provide to its members

Several months ago, I wrote “Which Financial Information Must a Corporation Provide to its Shareholders? “ This post – prompted by a client’s question – discusses the financial information that a California limited liability company must provide to its members. It also explains that such information cannot be waived by any member.

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). (more…)

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.

(more…)

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. (more…)

What is a Managing Member?

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz wrote about the meaning of the term " managing member "The post is about the definition of the term ” managing member “. I am writing this because of a Quora question that I answered a short while ago. Please see What is the difference between a managing member and a member in an LLC?

I have not confirmed whether all of the following background information applies equally to all states. However, I know that it applies to enough states that I will present the following as applying throughout the U.S., generally. (more…)

How to Form an LLC

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about how to form an LLCI am writing this post about how to form an LLC (limited liability company) because of a question that I answered on Quora. Please see What are the basic requirements for forming of a LLC in US?

The following is an overview of the steps required to form an LLC properly in the U.S.: (more…)

Is an Operating Agreement Required for an LLC?

First page of OA for post that answers: Is an operating agreement required for an LLC?I have written many times about limited liability company operating agreements. This post answers the following question: Is an operating agreement required?

As is the case for many issues pertaining to limited liability companies, the answer varies from state to state. To answer this question, we need to examine the relevant statutes for each state.

Most States, Operating Agreement Not Required

Most states do not require that an LLC have an operating agreement. For example: (more…)

Units are to LLCs as Shares are to Corporations

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about LLC unitsI am writing this post about limited liability company (LLC) units because of a question that I answered on Quora. Please see Why would an operating agreement for an LLC have a Schedule A and also a quantity of Class A interests?

LLC Membership Interests: Percentages

We can specify LLC membership interests in either of two ways. (more…)

CA-RULLCA Receives Corrections Two Years Later

Photo of CA Corporations Code, which contains CA-RULLCA statutesIn RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014 , I explained how California’s version of the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (“RULLCA” or “CA-RULLCA” – Corporations Code Sections 17701.01 – 17713.13 ) was to take effect January 1, 2014. This post describes changes to CA-RULLCA that took effect on January 1, 2016.

Most of the changes were minor clean-up of the sort that one expects when major new legislation is adopted. However, some of the changes are noteworthy. (more…)

Why Aren’t All LLCs Manager-managed?

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about manager-managed LLCsThis post about manager-managed limited liability companies is based on a Quora question  that I answered. Please see Why are not all LLCs manager-managed?

In this post I will refer to California law. I expect that the law of many, if not all, other states is similar.

Default is Member-managed…

The default is that a limited liability company is member-managed. Corporations Code Section 17704.07(a) states: “A limited liability company is a member-managed limited liability company unless the articles of organization contain the statement required by paragraph (5) of subdivision (b) of Section 17702.01.” (more…)

Yes, a Stranger Can Cancel Your LLC!

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about how a stranger can cancel your LLC or corporationThis post discusses how (amazingly!) an unauthorized stranger can cancel your LLC (limited liability company) or corporation. It is based on a Quora question that I answered. See What prevents someone from filing a restated certificate of incorporation for a Delaware corporation in which they are not authorized to do so?

Unfortunately, the ease with which entity-formation documents can be filed in the U.S. – while facilitating business startups – does allow unauthorized filing of such documents. This means that, whether accidentally or intentionally, a stranger can cancel your LLC (or corporation). (more…)

How to Dissolve a Delaware Corporation or LLC

Seal of the Delaware Division of Corporations, symbolizing this post by Dana Shultz about how to dissolve a Delaware corporation or LLCThis post discusses how to dissolve a Delaware corporation or LLC (limited liability company) – i.e., how to terminate the entity’s existence.

For information about dissolving California entities, see How to Kill Your Company when that’s the Only Choice. (more…)

Under RULLCA Operating Agreements Have Limits

California State Flag, symbolizing this post about RULLCA operating agreementsAt the beginning of this year, the California Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (RULLCA) took effect. (See RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014.) This post discusses how under RULLCA operating agreements for LLCs have a wide variety of limits.

RULLCA operating agreements‘ limits are addressed in Corporations Code Section 17701.10. Unfortunately, that section’s discussion of mandatory provisions is pretty difficult to understand for the following reasons. (more…)

LLCs: Why an Operating Agreement is Important

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz discussed why an operating agreement is importantThis post discusses why an operating agreement is important for every limited liability company (LLC). It expands upon an answer I provided on Quora several months ago. (See In simple terms, why are operating agreements important?)

An operating agreement is an agreement among the members of an LLC. It addresses relations among the members and how the LLC will conduct its affairs. (more…)

Can I Walk Away from My Suspended LLC?

Photo of people walking, symbolizing walking away from a suspended LLCThis post addresses a question that arises frequently from founders of California limited liability companies that have been suspended: Can I walk away from my suspended LLC?

A suspended LLC is the result of a founder who has neglected to file Statements of Information with the Secretary of State, or file returns with or pay amounts due to the Franchise Tax Board, or both of the foregoing. Please see Why was My Corporation / LLC Suspended or Forfeited? (more…)

Do LLC Officers Have a Fiduciary Duty?

Picture of a meerkat on duty, symbolizing whether LLC officers have fiduciary duties

Officers of a corporation have a fiduciary duty to both the corporation and its shareholders. (See California Officers Need to Be More Careful than Directors.) I recently had to consider, for a limited liability company in California, whether LLC officers have a similar duty.

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).

I was preparing the operating agreement for a client’s LLC. The client was to be the sole member (equity owner) and manager. (more…)

How Can I Have Reverse Vesting in an LLC?

Quora logo

I recently received, via Quora, a private question about setting up an LLC membership interest (rather than shares of a corporation) with reverse vesting (see Rewarding Key Personnel: Restricted Stock or Options?). That question, and my answer, are reproduced below with minor editing.

Q. I am starting a company and forming as an LLC. My co-founder will received a reverse-vested membership percentage. I’ve found plenty of sample restricted stock agreements, but nothing for LLCs and memberships. Do you have any suggestions where I can find a sample agreement? (more…)

LLC Accounting – Allocations vs. Distributions

Accountant's green and white ledger page, symbolixing LLC accounting practices

An entrepreneur who was trying to prepare a limited liability company (LLC) Operating Agreement on his own (apparently using someone else’s as a template) was puzzled by the concept of “sharing losses”. I could tell right away that he was not familiar with two fundamental concepts of LLC accounting: Allocations vs. distributions.

Before going further, I need to make two disclaimers:

  1. This post is not about taxes.
  2. The following discussion is extremely simple, addressing only the most basic considerations. One of the great things about LLCs is that the members can agree to make allocations and distributions in any way they desire to meet their business needs. As a result, LLC accounting can be far more complex than the following might suggest.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Forming an LLC: Figuring Out What’s Really Required

LinkedIn logo

Here (slightly edited) are a LinkedIn question and my answer (which no longer are available at LinkedIn because it Q&A feature was discontinued). Q. I need to get an operating agreement for my Nevada LLC startup. I plan on selling membership in the future. There are online services that do this for cheap, but I’m unsure about doing that. This is a bootstrapped startup, so I have very little/no cash to pay for an attorney at this point in time. Plus I haven’t been able to find a good referral to a NV business attorney.

A. I’m afraid that I can’t provide a useful direct answer to your question (I don’t know how to get something – especially something good – for nothing), but I can provide some warnings because I see several red flags popping up.

(more…)

Can Personal Creditors Threaten My LLC?

I recently answered an Avvo question about whether personal financial problems would create trouble for the LLC that an individual was forming. The question and answer, substantially edited, are provided below.

Q. I am starting a new company. I wish to establish an LLC. I had a recent foreclosure and they are coming at me for 70k on a 3rd against the property. I also have a credit card judgment for 18k and 30k of other outstanding debt. Question is whether an LLC can protect me. I have investors placing 50-100k in this project and i cannot have any issues moving forward. [Emphasis added.] (more…)

Funding Your LLC: Avoiding Mistakes

I recently answered an Avvo question about capital contributions and loans to an LLC. The question and answer are reproduced, in somewhat edited form, below.

Q: I am the sole member of an LLC. What is the best way to make capital contributions? Can I do this in the form of a loan? (more…)

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?

(more…)

Can I Form an LLC without a Lawyer?

Logo of the California Secretary of State, symbolizing filing Articles of Organization for an LLC without a lawyerRecently, several start-up entrepreneurs have asked me whether they can form a limited liability company – LLC – without a lawyer available to help. The following answer reflects practices in California.

Filing Articles of Organization for an LLC without a Lawyer is Easy

The first step, filing Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State, is easy – no lawyer is required. (Unless you want expedited turnaround, in which case a lawyer who has an existing relationship with a commercial filing service in Sacramento is invaluable.)

(more…)

What is Successor Liability and Why Should I Care?

Logo for Quora, which was the inspiration for this post about successor liabilityThis post about successor liability is prompted by a question that I answered recently on Quora. (See Can I dissolve my corporation and transfer its website to my personal ownership?)

The following is oriented somewhat toward California law, but similar considerations likely apply in other states. (more…)

How Do We Issue Corporate Shares?

Share certificate, symbolizing how to issue corporate sharesSeveral weeks ago, I wrote about how to issue LLC membership interests. In this post, I am addressing how a small corporation should issue corporate shares.

To start, one must examine the Certificate of Incorporation (Delaware) or Articles of Incorporation (California) to determine the maximum number of shares that may be issued. (To simplify this discussion, I will assume that only one class of common shares has been authorized.) A corporation may not issue more shares than are authorized. (more…)

Section 25102 (f) – Securities Law Compliance if You Incorporate in California

Banner for California Department of Business Oversight, where Section 25102 (f) notices are filedWhen startups incorporate, they typically want to avoid the expense, delay and effort associated with registering the sale of their shares. In California, the most common exemption from registration is found in Corporations Code Section 25102 (f).

Section 25102 (f) says that a corporation need not register the sale of its shares if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The shares are sold to no more than 35 shareholders.
  • All purchasers have a preexisting relationship with the corporation or its officers, directors or controlling persons.
  • Each purchaser is buying shares for the purchaser’s own account and not for resale.
  • The offer and sale of the shares is not accompanied by the publication of any advertisement.

(more…)

IP Indemnification: Who Will Be There to Satisfy the Obligation?

Almost a year ago, I posted IP Warranties and Indemnification: How Much is Reasonable? This post addresses a related subject: If you get the other party to agree to indemnify you, who will be around to satisfy the obligation?

A client is in the process of acquiring all of the rights to certain software, which was developed by several recent college graduates who formed a limited liability company (LLC). The client knew to ask for indemnification against claims that the software infringes any third party’s intellectual property rights.

What the client had not thought about, however, was whether the LLC could satisfy the indemnification obligation – which is unlikely, given that the LLC probably (a) has few assets and (b) will be dissolved once the transaction is consummated.

Accordingly, I recommended that we include in the agreement the LLC members’ covenant to satisfy the indemnification obligation if the LLC, itself, doesn’t. The members may be unhappy, but if they want the transaction badly enough, they will agree.

Lesson: An indemnification obligation is only as valuable as the party takes it on.

Photo credit: Anna H-G via stock.xchng

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

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.

(more…)

Should My Corporation Provide Stock Certificates to Shareholders?

Image of a stock certificate for a post about stock certificatesLet’s assume that you are one of the founders of a new corporation. Should the corporation provide stock certificates to shareholders when their shares are issued?

For most startups formed in California, the answer is “yes” – and not merely because the founders will feel good having tangible evidence of their ownership interests. (more…)

Beware Your Alter Ego

Banner of the California Courts, which have written opinions about the alter ego doctrineThis post discusses the alter ego doctrine, particularly as it is applied by courts in California.

The section references 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).

Corporations have existed for centuries. One way they promote economic activity is by allowing stockholders to limit their personal liability for corporate debts to the amount of their individual investments in the corporation (“limited personal liability”). (more…)

What is Dissociation?

"Goodbye Friends" sign for post about dissociation from a partnership or LLC

This post explains what dissociation is. This is part of Dana Shultz’s Canonical Questions on the Law® series of questions and answers about legal issues, concepts and terminology.

Definition of Dissociation

Dissociation is the process by which one:

  • Stops being a member of a limited liability company (LLC); or
  • Stops being a partner in a partnership.

Alternatively, this process sometimes is called withdrawal.

(more…)

How to Redomesticate when Your State Won’t Permit It

Great Seal of the State of California for post about how to redomesticate an entity

In How Can I Move My Corporation to Another State?, I discussed redomestication, i.e., how to move a legal entity from one state to another. In this post, I explain how to redomesticate an entity when the existing state’s law prohibits redomestication.

California Corporation Cannot Redomesticate

About a year ago, the CEO of a California corporation contacted me. He was relocating to Pennsylvania, so it made sense to move his corporation there, too. Unfortunately, California does not permit its corporations, in contrast to limited liability companies (LLCs), to redomesticate. (Please see the CA Secretary of State’s Conversion Information page.)

(more…)

You Can’t Just Stop Being a Shareholder

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about how you can't just stop being a shareholderThis post explains why, in the U.S., one can’t just stop being a shareholder. I decided to write it after addressing this issue on Quora. Please see Corporate Law: What is the best method to abandon stock in a private company?

Ways to Stop Being a Shareholder

Corporate law does not permit a shareholder to unilaterally dispose of his or her shares. As a result: (more…)

What Are My Entity’s Compliance Obligations?

Frequently, the first service I provide to a client is to form a new legal entity (corporation or limited liability company). And frequently, once that entity is formed, the client’s first question is “What are my entity’s compliance obligations?”

This post provides a high-level answer to that question.

(If you form a corporation in California, you can find additional information in the Postincorporation Matters document on the Downloads page – image above.) (more…)

What is an Operating Agreement?

The first page of an operating agreementI have used the term “operating agreement” in quite a few of this blog’s posts. However none of those posts explains in detail what a limited liability company (LLC) operating agreement must contain. This post provides that information.

The required contents of an operating agreement depend on the state in which the LLC is formed.

Operating Agreement – California

In California, where I practice, the definition of an operating agreement is set forth in Corporations Code Section 17701.02(s). (more…)

Entity Conversion Can Be Easy – If You Know What You Are Doing

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about entity conversionThis post about entity conversion is an expanded version of an answer that I provided on Quora yesterday. (How do I convert a Delaware LLC to a California LLC?)

In my experience, entity conversion typically occurs for either, or both, of the following reasons.

  1. The need to convert a limited liability company (LLC) to a corporation to accept an investment from an institutional investor, such as a venture capitalist.
  2. The need to move an entity from one state to another. This typically occurs because the founder relocates, or because an investor prefers to invest in a Delaware corporation.

(more…)

Can I Sell a Partnership Interest in California?

Logo for Avvo, where Dana Shultz answered a question about whether one can sell a partnership interestI recently answered an Avvo question about whether one can sell a partnership interest. The question and answer are paraphrased below (with emphasis added).

Q. In California, is a general partnership terminated upon the sale of one partner’s interest to a third party? How would the remaining partner and new partner continue business? Would a new entity need to be formed? There is no written partnership agreement.

A. Corporations Code Section 16201 states that “A partnership is an entity distinct from its partners.” Therefore, a membership change does not, by itself, create a new partnership.

(more…)

You Can’t Change Online Terms Solely by Email

Great Fun logo

In Changing Online Terms of Use? Be Sure to Give Notice First!, I discussed a case that held that merely changing a website’s online terms does not bind users to the new terms – the users must receive notice that the terms have changed and how they have changed. This post discusses a recent case (Schnabel v. Trilegiant Corp.) that comes to a consistent conclusion from a different direction: Merely sending an email that adds a provision to existing online terms does not bind users to that provision.

(more…)

Printing Legends on Share Certificates – Why and How

Sample Share Certificate to illustrate printing legends on share certificates

Sample Share Certificate with Legend from Attorneys Corporation Service, Inc.

Last year, I wrote about the importance of a corporation’s placing appropriate legends on share certificates (Why Do We Need a Corporate Records Book?) and likewise for limited liability company membership certificates (Should My LLC Issue Membership Certificates?). This post provides more details about why legends are required and how to print legends on share certificates. (Although I am using corporation-specific terminology, the considerations are similar for LLCs.)

When including legends on share certificates for clients, one of the most important states that the shares have not been registered under state or federal securities laws.  (I have the company that provides the certificates include it when the certificates initially are printed.) The reason: To put the shareholder on notice that, under applicable securities laws, the shares cannot be transferred unless certain circumstances are satisfied. Here is an example:

(more…)

Which Financial Information Must a Corporation Provide to its Shareholders?

Financial balance sheet

The CEO of a client recently asked about the level of financial detail that must be disclosed to a (troublesome) shareholder. The client corporation was formed in Delaware but is located in California, so both states’ laws apply.

California Corporations Code Section 1601 says, in relevant part (emphasis added), that “[t]he accounting books and records of any domestic corporation, and of any foreign corporation keeping any such records in this state or having its principal executive office in this state, shall be open to inspection upon the written demand on the corporation of any shareholder . . . during usual business hours, for a purpose reasonably related to such holder’s interests as a shareholder . . . . Such inspection . . . may be made in person or by agent or attorney, and the right of inspection includes the right to copy and make extracts.”

(more…)

California doesn’t *always* prohibit non-compete provisions

Photo pf a bike race symbolizing this blog post about non-compete provisionsCalifornia is well-known for refusing to enforce non-compete provisions, especially in the post-employment context (see Choice-of-Law and Non-Compete Provisions), so individuals will not be deprived of gainful employment. But provisions limiting competition aren’t always taboo. (more…)

Contracts with Minors can Lead to Major Problems

Photo of a child pringing "A", symbolizing contracts with minorsI recently was consulted concerning contracts with minors. In the first case, a teenager wanted to start a business. In the second, a father wanted his child to become a member of his limited liability company (LLC).

Here is an overview of California law concerning contracts with minors.

A minor is an individual who is under 18 years of age. An adult is an individual who is 18 years of age or older. Family Code Sections 6500-6501

Subject to certain exceptions (some of which are far-reaching, such as those precluding contracts related to real property or personal property not in the minor’s immediate possession or control), minors may enter into agreements. Family Code Sections 6700-6701

However, the minor generally may disaffirm (reject) the agreement before reaching majority, or during a reasonable time thereafter. Family Code Sections 6710-6713

(more…)

How to Kill Your Company when That’s the Only Choice

Yesterday I wrote about ways that businesses with two equal owners can avoid management deadlocks (Resolving Small-business Disputes: The 50-50 Deadlock). Today I am writing about dissolution, i.e., termination of a California entity’s existence – the only reasonable outcome if a serious deadlock cannot be resolved.

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 essence of the dissolution process for a California corporation is as follows: (more…)