How to Start a Series LLC in Montana

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Last updated January 6, 2023
Written by Dmytro Kondratiev
Editor, lawyer
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Montana is one of the states that recognize a series LLC business structure. So, if you’re looking for a guide on how to form a series LLC in MT, you’ve come to the right place.

This article covers all of the ins and outs of starting a series LLC in MT, including the fees and state procedures, so you have all the information you need to create a business venture with little to no fuss.

How to Form a Series LLC in Montana: Step by Step

In general, it’s much easier to start a series LLC in Montana than most people think, but it’s not a one-step process. To ensure you get everything right and do not miss anything important, just follow our guide that will walk you through all the SLLC formation steps.

Step 1. Give a Name for Your Company

The first step to creating a series LLC in Montana is to actually give it a name. Since this is your business, it’s important that the name you choose is something you personally like, but in addition, there are a few other naming rules to consider, too.

  • The name company must clearly tell what business structure it belongs to by including words and phrases, such as “LLC”, “L.L.C.” or “limited liability company”;
  • No confusing words such as “state” or “federal”, which can make people think you provide government services, can be used;
  • It is also important that it doesn’t include words pertaining to specific professions that require a license to form an LLC, e.g. “attorney”, “doctor”, etc;
  • Of course, you can’t use a name that has already been taken by someone else, so be sure to do a quick search in the name database;
  • The parent LLC must have a distinguishable name, different from the child series;
  • At the same time, the child series must include the full parent LLC name;
  • Finally, it’s a good idea to buy the URL with your business name at the outset so that nobody can acquire it when you’re ready to launch a website.

If you’ve checked the name and it’s still available but you can’t file a series LLC in MT yet, you have the option to reserve it for up to 120 days by filing the Name Reservation form with the Montana Secretary of State (SOS) and paying a fee of $10.

Aside from that, you may also want to acquire an assumed business name (also known as DBA, trade name, and fictitious name). Basically, by registering a DBA, you get the right to run your business under a name other than legal.

DBA names can be registered by filling out an online form and submitting it to the SOS for a filing fee of $20.

Step 2. Hire a Registered Agent for Your Series LLC in MT

Next, you will need to nominate a registered agent (RA) for your SLLC in MT. Every business entity in the USA, regardless of its structure, is required to have one, so this step cannot be skipped.

Simply put, a registered agent is a point of contact between a series LLC and the government that is authorized to receive and process legal paperwork and report receipt of these documents.

Any individual aged at least 18 with a registered street address in the state of Montana will qualify as one, as long as he or she is available at that address during standard business hours.

If you choose to hire a company as an RA instead, be sure to check if the company has both a mailing address and a registered address in Montana.

You could be an agent for the service of the process in MT, too - the state law allows for that. However, being your own registered agent entails a few flaws. Just so that you get an idea, here are the advantages of hiring a third-party agency:

  • Privacy. By listing your RA information, you’ll keep your own details, such as your name and address, off the public records;
  • Flexibility. You won’t have to be at the office during business hours, which will allow you to organize your time and workplace as you see fit;
  • National coverage. If you decide to create a foreign LLC in another state, an RA will allow you to do it with no extra paperwork required on your side;
  • Business credibility. With an RA, you’ll never find yourself in a situation when the Service of Process arrives and you have to accept documents in front of your clients;
  • Maintain good standing. What’s more important is that you’ll have confidence knowing that your company records are kept in good standing.

Obviously, if you act as your own statutory agent, you will have to handle all the correspondence yourself and make sure that all your reports - across the entire series LLC - are filed in due time, which can be quite hard, to say the least.

For this very reason, most SLLCs in Montana opt for professional registered agent service providers

Step 3. File the Articles of Organization for Your Series LLC in MT

When the company’s name is chosen and the license is sorted, you can finally file the Articles of Organization, a document that officially proves the fact of your series LLC registration. With this document at hand, you become a business owner.

The information to be included in this document is as follows:

  • What business entity your company belongs to;
  • The name of the company;
  • Company’s registered address;
  • The information about your registered agent;
  • The company’s purpose;
  • How the company will be managed: member-member or manager-member;
  • The term of the company;
  • The date of creation;
  • Organizers’ signatures.

This form is quite easy to fill out, but if you need help with putting everything together, along with the information about LLC’s child series, it may be a good idea to reach a local attorney.

When the form is ready, it must be filed online with the Secretary of State.

The filing fee for the parent LLC is $70, plus $50 for each series.

Step 4. Draft an Operating Agreement

In Montana, drafting an operating agreement isn’t required, but we’d certainly recommend doing so, and here are the reasons why.

First things first, this document is legally binding, which means that it can be used as legal evidence of the functioning of your LLC when:

  • Applying for a loan;
  • Conducting any other bank-related transaction.

Secondly, it’s good to define the obligations and responsibilities of each member of the LLC. In fact, LLCs use an operating agreement as a set of internal rules of the company so everyone knows what happens in any given case.

An operating agreement also ensures protection of liability for each child series and allows you to run your business under your company rules rather than state LLC rules, which would automatically apply to your series LLC upon LLC formation.

In addition to that, an operating agreement is a great tool for growing with partners and investors. If you outline a well-thought-out business strategy, you’re more likely to bring more people on board and raise funds from investors.

Step 5. Get an EIN Number

Every series LLC in Montana that has at least one employee must acquire an EIN number from the IRS website, which can be done online for free.

Even if you don’t have employees, it’s still a good idea to have one because it’s needed for opening a bank account.

Montana Series LLC Cost: How Much Is a Series LLC in MT

The cost to file a series LLC in MT may vary depending on a few factors, including the number of child series you create, who will act as an RA, and what additional services you may use in the course of running your business.

In general, however, there are two types of costs to factor in, which are:

  • Compulsory. These include filing fees for the Articles of Organization and any other licenses and permits required to legally run the business in the state;
  • Optional. All other fees that may incur when running your LLC are considered optional and can vary greatly.

Here’s a detailed overview of the Montana Series LLC cost, including compulsory and optional fees:

ServiceCost
Articles of Organization fee$70 for the parent LLC +$50 for each child series
DBA (optional)$20
Registered agent fee$0-$125
Certificate of Good Standing fee (optional)$10 or $20 (expedited pricing)
Certified copies of documents $10
Annual reports fee$20
Articles of Amendments fee (optional)$15 or $115 for one-hour processing
Articles of Dissolution fee (optional)$15 or $115 for one-hour processing

In some situations, such as applying for a loan, for example, you may be asked to bring with you a Certificate of Good Standing (known as an Existence Certificate).

This document is issued by Companies House and serves as proof that your LLC is authorized to conduct business in the state and is financially viable.

Should you want to make any changes to your child series, you will need to file the Articles of Amendments. The standard filing fee is $15, but if you need your document to be processed urgently, you can pay an additional fee of $100.

First Tasks After Forming a Series LLC in MT

In general, once you have a signed copy of your Articles of Organization, this means that the series LLC has been registered in the state, and now you can legally run a business. However, it’s highly advisable to get a few more things out of the way.

Open a Separate Bank Account

To start off, you need to open a business bank account. This is an important step because it’s the only way to distinguish between business assets and personal savings, thereby providing liability protection.

It’s important to note, however, that for series LLC, it’s necessary to create a dedicated bank account for each child series. By separating business income, you will get peace of mind knowing that if anything happens to one of the series, it won’t affect the entire series.

You can open a business bank account at any bank of your choice by submitting the following package of documents:

  • Your Articles of Organization;
  • Your series LLC operating agreement;
  • EIN number.

Find an Accountant

We don’t recommend trying to manage the finances on your own because there’s so much room for error. The best way to go is to hire a professional accountant who’s well-versed in the series LLC.

With an accountant working on your behalf, you will not only ensure that all your records are kept concise and clear but you will also be able to keep track of your LLC performance and, based on profitability analysis, steer your business in the right direction.

In addition, an accountant can help prepare and file reports for each child LLC and assist with tax filings, so you have less paperwork to do.

Get Permits and Licenses

Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need to acquire certain permits and licenses prior to setting up a series LLC in MT. Whether you need licenses or not, you can check on the official website of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

If you have any questions, you can contact your local representative for more details about the license and permit requirements in your municipality.

Keep Your Company Compliant

To stay in good standing with the Montana Secretary of State, each LLC, regardless of its business structure, must file annual reports.

Annual reports are used to update the government about the changes that have taken place in the business during the year and must be filed in a timely manner, which, in Montana, is due by April 15. The reports can be submitted online or by mail for a filing fee of $20.

Note that if you fail to file your reports, your series LLC will be dissolved, and you will have to file the Articles of Reinstatement to try and get your company back on track.

Aside from that, you will need to send income reports, irrespective of whether you’ve managed to make money from your business or not. Plus, there are taxes to take care of.

Speaking of which, if you don’t choose to be treated as a corporation, you won’t have any additional tax filings to worry about. If you do, however, you’ll need to file separate documents for your series LLC.

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