When it comes to running a business, you’re probably familiar with the concept of LLCs (limited liability companies).
LLCs are a modern staple of asset protection planning because they combine the limited liability protection offered by corporations with the ease of operation offered by partnerships.
The best of both worlds, wrapped in a simple and effective entity.
It’s no surprise that these benefits make the LLC an ideal candidate for asset protection planning.
In fact, many asset protection plans make use of multiple LLCs to divide up and isolate assets not only from personal liability but also from liability caused by the assets themselves.
While LLCs are generally cheaper and easier to operate than corporations, these costs can add up if you have several LLCs.
Which raises the question: how do you keep these costs under control?
One simple approach is to limit the number of LLCs you create. While this approach will reduce your costs, it can also limit your protection.
Fortunately, there is a middle ground that avoids the need to compromise between cost and asset protection. That middle ground is a special type of LLC known as a Series LLC.
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What is a Series LLC?
It’s easiest to understand the concept of a Series LLC by comparing it with a traditional LLC. I like to think of traditional LLCs as a simple bank vault. If you put all your valuables inside, then you will be relying on that one vault to protect everything. If someone gets access to that vault, they get access to everything.
You could solve this by setting up multiple vaults to divide up your assets. If someone gets access to one vault, they will only get access to whatever is in that one vault.
Everything else is still locked away. While multiple vaults can provide independent protection for multiple assets, this approach can quickly get expensive.
Fortunately, there is an alternative solution.
In some jurisdictions, you can create a vault with safe deposit boxes inside. Under this approach, you only have the cost of one vault, but you can lock up all your assets in independent safe deposit boxes.
Everything is still locked up even if someone gets into the vault. This is how a Series LLC works: for the cost of having one LLC, you can get independent protection for multiple assets.
The parts of a Series LLC?
A Series LLC is made up of two components: the parent series and cells. The parent series is like the main bank vault, while the cells are the safe deposit boxes. Each cell is treated like an independent LLC from an asset protection perspective, but the cell is treated like part of the parent series from a state filing perspective.
With a Series LLC you effectively have the cost of one LLC and the protection of multiple LLCs. Series LLCs can be a great tool for investors who are looking for a way to protect multiple assets without creating a costly asset protection structure.
While Series LLC can be a great asset protection tool, there are a few caveats to be aware of. It’s important to note that not every jurisdiction recognizes Series LLCs.
Where to establish your Series LLC
It’s unwise to use Series LLCs in jurisdictions that don’t recognize them because it’s unlikely that you’ll receive the protections you are looking for.
In fact, it can be unwise to use a Series LLC even if your jurisdiction does recognize them. A few jurisdictions that recognize Series LLCs have deviated enough from the original concept of the Series LLC that many of its benefits are lost.
Some states require that the cells pay separate registration fees, effectively eliminating the cost savings. Other jurisdictions don’t recognize the separate liability protections for cells, which eliminates the asset protection benefits.
In short, the Series LLC concept is not as widely adopted among the 50 states as the traditional LLCs.
Series LLCs can be a powerful asset protection tool, but they are a relatively new legal concept and the law surrounding them is still developing.
The advisors here at Anderson can help you navigate these issues and determine if a Series LLC is a good fit for you.
- How do Series LLC apply to Anderson Clients?
- Why do you need a Series LLC?
- How is a Series LLC taxed?
- What is a Master LLC?
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