Keeping Ownership of Your LLC Private
Which States Allow LLC Owners to be Anonymous?
Some states require a member-managed LLC to list the names and address of members (owners) in the Articles of Organization. While this is convenient when it comes time to open a business bank account, it may not be ideal for the business owners who don't want their ownership part of public records. In these states, there's not much you can do when it comes to anonymity. The states that list the members' names as part of the Articles of Organization kept on file with the state are:
- District of Columbia
- Iowa (does not list all of the members of the LLC, but must be signed by one of the members)
- Maine (does not list all of the members of the LLC, but must be signed by at least one of the members)
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
Other states list the "organizer(s)" of the LLC. In simple terms, the organizer is just the person who is filing the LLC with the state. The organizer does not have to be one of the owners: the organizer can be the registered agent of the LLC, an attorney, the LLC's accountant, a friend or family member, a document filing company (like TotalLegal), or anyone, as long as they are authorized by the LLC to act as the organizer. States that do not list the member(s) of the LLC, but either list the organizer(s) or require the signature of an organizer are:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Wyoming (does not list all of the members, and can be signed by a manager instead of a member).
If you live in one of the states that only lists the "organizer" of the LLC, and you would like the rest of your business's information kept private, you should consider using a commercial registered agent. In some cases, the owner of the LLC chooses to act as the registered agent of the LLC, but the name of the registered agent is always listed on the Articles of Organization, in every state. Using a commercial registered agent, like TotalLegal (in the states that don't list the members on the Articles), helps keep your personal information private when it comes to the public record of your LLC.
LLCs should have an up-to-date Operating Agreement, which includes a list of the members/owners of the LLC and their percentage of ownership, regardless of whether or not your Articles of Organization lists the members. The Operating Agreement is an internal document kept on file along with the rest of your LLC's records. The Operating Agreement is not filed with the state.