Choosing a Name for Your LLC

Many states offer a name reservation service for a fee. That being said, just because the state takes your money and reserves the name doesn’t mean it will be accepted when you file with the state. It is always a better idea to do a name search ahead of time to check for obvious conflicts than paying a fee that doesn’t guarantee you a thing.

You will need to think up a name for your LLC, and it’s better to come prepared with multiple choices if the one you want is already taken. Certain words (usually professional terms) like “Engineer,” “Mortgage,” or “Trust” require special approval, so it may be easier to use a different name than to bother with seeking this approval. Also, if you are looking to keep a private profile, then avoid using your first or last name in your LLC’s name.

Remember that you need to include either the abbreviation “LLC,” or the words, “limited liability company” in your new business’s name. You can’t use corporation terms such as “Inc.,” “Corp.” or “Ltd.,” because these terms (called corporate designators) have specific legal meaning, and you can’t intentionally cause confusion by using them for a business structure that isn’t a corporation.

Most states don’t distinguish between corporate designators – to them, ABC, LLC and ABC, Corporation are the same thing. You would need to make some other difference, by adding another word to the business’s name.

It can sometimes be very frustrating and time-consuming to find a name that isn’t too similar to one already in use. Every state has its own guidelines on what is considered too close and what isn’t. In Texas, for example, the first two words in an LLC’s name must be different from all other existing entities.

Fortunately, most state registries have an online search tool so that you can pre-determine whether or not your LLC’s name will be acceptable, and whether that state has any specific naming requirements.

There are many variables when you’re structuring a business. That’s why it’s hard to go through a quick-service website. Unless you talk to someone who’s got some knowledge and experience on both the tax and the legal side, it’s hard to know what you don’t know. And that can leave you vulnerable.

Got questions? Contact us! We’re here for you.

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