Your Personal Resolutions vs. Corporate Resolutions

So we are midway through January 2019 as of this post. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along? Are you preparing for your 2018 tax returns? Government shutdown or no the IRS will still be collecting taxes, so that’s always a struggle. In particular keeping your accounting and records in order to help yourself or your accountant.  So working on your taxes and helping out your accountant, whether you own a business or not, may be a personal resolution.

If you are responsible for a corporation’s records you probably want to make it a personal goal to make it the corporation’s goals to be prepared and organized for corporate meetings and docs.

For businesses though, another issue they may struggle in trying to do better each year is in their record keeping. Particularly, a problem acute to corporations, is documenting a corporate board’s decision-making process. Sometimes for corporate compliance concerns documenting the board’s decisions is crucial. It might be what is at issue in an IRS audit or an investigation by a licensing/permitting government agency.

From following the Articles of Incorporation, By-laws, calling meetings, setting agendas, sending notice, etc … there is a lot of keep track of for corporate formalities. One of the important documents in the corporate governance and record keeping process is the corporate resolution.

Understanding Corporate Resolutions

Corporate resolutions should be stored with other records like minutes.

Good record keeping, including documenting resolutions is key for corporate governance and compliance.

So what is a corporate resolution exactly? Corporations are legal persons. While, they are not living, breathing people like you and me they are persons under the law. They can own property, sue others, and be sued themselves. However, in order to do something, that is take action, corporation’s have boards that make decisions. In that way, corporate resolutions are like personal resolutions. Where you are resolved to accomplish something, like eat better or exercise more, a corporation is resolved to take out a loan or buy a piece of property.

For more information on corporate resolutions download and read the following One-Sheet. It is meant to answer the basic questions of corporate resolutions: ONE-SHEET: WHAT ARE CORPORATE RESOLUTIONS?

Many corporations spend a lot of money on their corporate formalities and governance items, such as:

  1. Proper notice and running of meetings;
  2. Timely annual filings and tax returns;
  3. Well-draft resolutions and minutes; and
  4. Documenting decision-making processes.

With so many stakeholders interested in corporate actions, such as shareholders, directors, officers, executives, IRS agents, licensing boards, regulators, environmentalists, and social activists corporate resolutions are just one of the many records that need to be maintained.

Resolutions Used in Other Organizations

Other organizations also use resolutions.

A variety of organizations and associations also use resolutions. They just do not call theirs “corporate resolutions”.

Finally, realize that for-profit corporations’ boards are not the only boards that should be documenting their actions and decision-making. That is resolutions are not only for them. Consider these situations:

  1. legislative bodies, their committees, and boards/agencies showing how they met and discussed the passing of laws or changing of regulations;
  2. nonprofit boards should avoid self-dealing, conflicts of interests, and the like as certain actions may be perceived abusing their charitable and tax exemption status for 501(c)(3) corporations, thus answering inquiries by the IRS and state regulators;
  3. homeowners’ and condo association boards where the decision to implement house rules, policies, and/or improvements could be challenged by owners or by injured parties for liability purposes; and
  4. yes, even LLCs and partnerships may use resolutions, they just do not call them “corporate resolutions”.

Resolutions in general are just a document of an action to be taken. Whether they pass or not a corporate board is something else. Corporate resolutions is just one of the tools in the corporate governance and compliance process. So anyone forming a corporation, serving as an officer/director, or becoming a shareholder should familiarize themselves with corporate records.  If your new to proper corporate governance and drafting of resolutions, then you may want to consider a lawyer’s help.

Finally, for your personal resolutions good luck!

-RKH

DISCLAIMER: This post provides general information, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained in the post without seeking the advice of  an attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.  Hew & Bordenave, LLLP expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.

Ryan Responds trade name vs trademark

What Should go in your Operating Agreement?

In this Ryan Responds video, I go over some of the more important items that an Operating Agreement should cover. While, not an exhaustive list, it is illustrative of the conversations LLC members and managers should have with one another. Business partners should strive to have this organizational document meet their expectations. It is a contract after all.

We also provide a one-sheet if you would like to read more about Operating Agreements. Finally, if you have any questions about reviewing, drafting, or even disputing an operating agreement please contact us or an attorney in your relevant jurisdiction for an initial consultation.

If You have a Question for Future Ryan Responds Videos …

We launched this on a YouTube channel, as we hope to publish educational videos on other topics in the future. Finally, if there is a short question you want the answer to submit them to admin@hewbordenave.com with the Subject line “Ryan Responds”. Please keep your questions short, general, and related to a business topic. Please do not provide specific details of  your matter or attempt to seek direct and specific legal advice through this format. If you need assistance and legal services, then please schedule a consultation with an attorney in your relevant jurisdiction.

Thanks and Cheers!

RKH

Disclaimer: The content of this video is for general information purposes only. Nothing should be taken as legal advice for an individual cases or situations. The viewing of this video does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your relevant jurisdiction.

“Why do I have to pay taxes on money that did not get distributed?!”

This is a question that many LLC owners (know as “members”) ask me. The confusion (and obviously frustration) of paying out taxes on money that you never received is real, but much of it stems from the lack of understanding that in the realm of LLCs there are “allocations”, which handles how profits and losses are allocated among the members and there are “distributions” the actual distributing of cash or property from the LLC. Many business owners like to conflate the two concepts together, which is not the case, and thus creates their confusion.

I provide an informational sheet for readers to take a look and get the basic understanding of the difference between allocations and distributions (see below).  The tax matter aside, the divvying up of allocations and distributions that is a discussion that business owners should have prior to organizing a LLC and then having an operating agreement drafted for them because of not just the tax issue, but due to the flexibility of LLCs of having allocations and distributions not match ownership interest, and the timing of distributions.

Again, communication is fundamental for business owners and a lot of discussion and pre-planning goes a long way to avoid the deterioration of the relationship because these were not hashed out prior to the formation of the business. As discussed in previous posts, LLC owners starting out would want these agreed upon terms on allocations and distributions reduced to writing, and is usually found in the Operating Agreement.

If you would like to see the information sheet, click here and then look for the downloadable pdf entitled, “For LLC Owners: Difference between Allocation and Distribution”.

Mahalo for stopping by and reading my blawg!

-RKH

*Disclaimer:  This post discusses general legal issues, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Ryan K. Hew, Attorney At Law, LLLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.

So I am going start this post with one of my favorite movie villain’s quote: “You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander. I am here to put you back on schedule.”

Except instead of building a space station, I am here to help you build your business by recognizing that while you can skip the pleasantries in business, you should NOT ignore the legal formalities.  I realize some of you business owners find your attorney, CPA, compliance officer, and the like as pains in the butt by sometimes being overly cautious, but please understand that these advisors suggest caution because they see how bad it can get when you don’t follow their advice.  So this post and several that will follow shall focus on legal formalities that I have seen business owners fail to follow.  By failing to observing these simple formalities these owners spent great time and expense trying to fix them, and some of them are unfixable.

Sign Your Papers

So today’s post what am I talking about?  Well, for this post I am talking about something so basic.  Namely, don’t forget to sign your agreements.   Before you laugh, consider how many times some asks you to do something so simple, you procrastinate on it to the last minute because you think it is so simple take care of later.  Consider in that in today’s technological world it is easy to text, email, etc . . . so some people feel, why bother signing a piece of paper?  Let me share a story that I see constantly among current and past clients: the unsigned Operating Agreement/Bylaws/Partnership Agreement.

I have had clients who have gotten into disputes with their business partners.  It might be suspicions, poor communications, changed expectations, but in general the relationship is deteriorating and these former allies, now want the other side out of the business or they want their share bought out.

So by the time the distressed business partner comes to me I will ask, “Where is your Operating Agreement?” I will be using a LLC as an example, but this applies to corporations, partnerships, and in general many relationships.  They usually have an Operating Agreement and aside from the host of other problems, such as lack of adequate protection, incorrect names or usage of terms, etc . . . I get to the end of the document and find it is unsigned.

What’s an Operating Agreement?

Before I continue, let me explain something about an Operating Agreement. This document acts as internal document that sets up the rules and procedures among the members (the owners) of a LLC, and may dictate how one becomes a member, sells their ownership interest, and handles voting, profit-sharing, etc . . . Suffice it to say, you should have an Operating Agreement if you have a LLC, regardless if it is member-managed or manager-managed.  It gives you the rules of interaction.  I have even seen problems where clients did not even bother having an Operating Agreement drafted, which is just worst than not even having one unsigned.

The Problem with Unexecuted Paperwork

Anyway, when your Operating Agreement remains unexecuted (unsigned) or any paperwork for that matter, it would indicate to an attorney that the parties had no intent to be bound by the document.  After all, “why didn’t you sign it?” is the question that comes to mind.

Unsigned documents are just paper with pretty words.  In the law we expect you to take an active act to be bound by those pretty words, and that active act is signing the documents.  The signature serves as evidence.  Consider for a moment that is why even in our electronic world, we make you go through hoops to “click”, “check the box”, or “electronically sign”, basically showing that you “read” the terms and by your action you agree to be bound to them.

So getting back to this situation where the parties have a dispute, but have unsigned paperwork the question remains what were the terms of the contract.  It is true in a lawsuit you can prove there was intent to be bound under the agreement by showing that the parties took active steps to be bound by the unsigned document.

However, don’t you think it is easier just to produce a signed document as evidence rather than cobbling together various pieces of evidence to demonstrate that the parties meant to sign it?

With an unsigned Operating Agreement, you may find yourself stuck with the default rules at law to guide your dispute with regard to fellow members in a LLC.  The defaults rule set at law are very broad and offer very little help in resolving a dispute among members.  So if you are going to take time to prepare a proper Operating Agreement that covers all your bases in a LLC relationship, don’t forget to get it signed by your business partners and sign it yourself, that way at least you know what to look at for guidance when problems start.

Stop back and I will talk about some of the problems you may face forgetting to do your Annual Filings or missing a renewal date!  Mahalo for reading!