In early January 2021, Ohio adopted Senate Bill 276 which established a Revised Limited Liability Company Act (“ORLLCA”) as Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1706, which effectively replaces the current Ohio Limited Liability Company Act (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1706). The ORLLCA will become effective on January 1, 2022.
One of the principal changes within the ORLLCA is the ability to establish “series LLCs”. Ohio becomes the 15th state to adopt a “series LLC” (“SLLC”). The below FAQs will help you better understand the mechanics and nuances of a series LLC.
Is forming a Series LLC right for you?
SLLCs provide unique benefits for individuals and entities. If you own multiple businesses, the SLLC structure can assist with minimizing risk and limiting exposure to liabilities with respect to certain assets held by SLLC.
- What is a Series LLC?
The formation of the SLLC was introduced in Delaware in 1996 by top business lawyers in the state. This was prompted by business owners who wanted to form a unique entity that consisted of separate, individual interests but had the same asset and liability protection as the traditional limited liability company (“LLC”). Due to the rising popularity of SLLCs in Delaware, many states have adopted similar statutes. Synonymous with Delaware law, a SLLC in Ohio can establish, through its operating agreement, multiple divisions or “series” with separate assets, purposes, business objectives, members, and ownership interests. Each series is legally separate from one another and is only liable for its own debts and obligations. In short, each series operates similar to an independent subsidiary under the master limited liability company.
2. How is it different from a traditional LLC?
The traditional LLC protects the owners from liability – but, in an effort to diversify risk within an entity structure – many entities form an “umbrella” of LLCs. The umbrella generally consists of a parent LLC and several subsidiary LLCs under the parent LLC’s control.
The SLLC is a variation of the traditional LLC and offers additional simplicity and flexibility to a business owner. The SLLC offers reduced setup and maintenance costs because only one Secretary of State filing is needed, regardless of how many series are a part of it. The most significant difference between these two types of entities is the enhanced liability and asset protection offered by the SLLC. With an SLLC, an owner no longer has to form the “umbrella” structure of several LLCs. So long as the entities with the SLLC adhere to the rules of the ORLLCA, the liabilities of the master LLC are not enforceable against any series that is a part of it and the liabilities of each series are not enforceable against another series.
3. What types of businesses would benefit from the SLLC?
The SLLC structure can be beneficial for many different types of business owners. Specifically, real estate investors who own investment properties can utilize the SLLC structure to diversify risk within a portfolio. This structure is extremely valuable for business owners who have capital and other assets invested in multiple segments of an LLC and wish to have those assets protected.
4. What are the drawbacks?
Since the SLLC structure is relatively new and only 14 other states permit their formation, there is little guidance by the IRS and state tax departments on the tax treatment of the SLLC. As such, there are tax risks associated with the formation of a SLLC and individuals and entities should consult their tax advisors regarding such risks.
To explore if utilizing and/or forming a SLLC will be advantageous for you or your business(es), please contact BMD Corporate and Mergers & Acquisitions Attorney Michael D. De Matteis, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org.