Forming a Nebraska LLC takes a lot of planning. Between the Certificate of Organization, Biennial Reports, potential tax registrations, and more, there’s a lot to consider. And paperwork and startup costs aren’t the only necessary tasks. You’ll also want to set up your LLC to run smoothly and avoid legal troubles after it’s been registered with the state.
That’s where the LLC operating agreement comes in.
Time-Saving Hack: There are a handful of online incorporation services that can form an LLC for you and include a free customizable operating agreement. ZenBusiness, though, is the only one that offers a free operating agreement in every package.
What is an LLC Operating Agreement?
An operating agreement gives your business structure and official procedures. It designates ownership, establishes operations, defines member responsibilities, and provides legal protection. Essentially, it lays out everything someone might need to know about your LLC. And it’s an internal document, so there’s no filing or fees involved.
Whether you’re starting a multi-member or single-member LLC, we strongly recommend completing an operating agreement. It’ll benefit and protect you for as long as you’re in business.
Am I Required to Have an Operating Agreement in Nebraska?
No, you aren’t under any obligation from the state to draft and maintain an operating agreement. However, having one will prove extremely beneficial for your LLC, so we highly recommend it.
If you want your business to run smoothly, your members and employees to have mutual understanding, to have your personal and financial assets protected, and your procedures standardized, you should draft an operating agreement! It will save you from stress and trouble down the road if you run into disputes.
Benefits of Creating an Operating Agreement
You want what’s best for your business. Months or years in the future, you want it to be a profitable and thriving endeavor. Having an operating agreement in place will set up your LLC for sustained success.
It requires some legwork, but it’s well worth it. Just look at some of the benefits:
- Officially designates how the ownership is split up (the percentage each member/manager owns), so there are no disputes.
- Standardizes office and company operations to improve efficiency
- Outlines the procedures for member additions and resignations, registered agent changes, dissolutions, and more, so there is no confusion.
- Avoids Nebraska’s “default rules,” which define baseline procedures for any LLC without an operating agreement and aren’t necessarily the best for your business.
- Grants you greater respect from Nebraska courts.
Free Nebraska LLC Operating Agreement
Once you’ve decided to create an operating agreement, your first move might be to check the Secretary of State website for resources. Unfortunately, you won’t find them. Since the agreement is an optional document and varies greatly from business to business, there are no official forms or instructions.
So, you’ll need to create your own, but don’t be intimidated! You don’t need to be an attorney or expert writer to draft an effective agreement. Plus, you can find plenty of free templates online to help you with the structure and legal terminology. While most of these templates are good options, a great starting point is one that you can get free through an affordable LLC service like ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent.
Whether you’re using a template or starting from scratch, here’s a quick and easy guide for what to include:
Owner or Member Information: Names and mailing addresses.
Company Information: Your LLC’s name, registered office, and principal office.
Registered Agent Information: The name of your registered agent, their address, and contact information.
LLC Formation: The date you filed or will file your Certificate of Organization with the Secretary of State.
Business Purpose: The type(s) of business your LLC will be doing in Nebraska.
Term: How long your LLC in Nebraska will be valid, typically until you file for termination.
Capital Contributions: The amount of money each member has invested in the LLC.
Profits, Losses, and Distributions: How income and debts are allocated among members and methods for distributing funds.
Ownership Percentage: How much of the company each member owns.
Management and Roles: The managerial structure and decision-making processes, naming who is in charge or certain operations.
Compensation: How members/managers are compensated and reimbursed.
Bookkeeping: Accounting procedures and member account policies.
Tax Treatment: Whether your LLC will be taxed as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, S-Corporation, or C-Corporation.
Member Additions: The procedure for bringing on new members – how they will be admitted, if they’re entitled to income, any expenses they will owe, their roles, etc.
Member Withdrawal: Procedures for the resignation, expulsion, retirement, or death of an existing member.
Amendment Procedures: How your LLC will approve changes to the operating agreement. Usually, it’s through a majority vote by the members.
Dissolution: What happens when you terminate your LLC. How your members will split up the remaining assets or debts.
You don’t always need to include all of the above. If any don’t apply to your LLC, feel free to leave them out. Still, it’s a good idea to cover as many bases as possible. Even if you’re a single-member LLC, you should consider including as many sections as possible to accommodate future changes. Otherwise, years into the life of your business, you may run into a dispute over something you didn’t include, and you won’t be able to fall back on the operating agreement.
When you’ve wrapped up your operating agreement, it’s a good idea to review it to confirm that you didn’t miss anything important. Then, pass it along to each member of your LLC – they will need to approve and sign it before you can officially adopt it. There’s no need to file it with the Secretary of state, so just keep it with your other business documents, as you’ll most likely need to review and revise it later.
Making Changes to Your Operating Agreement
For better or worse, your business is going to change. As you begin doing business in Nebraska and, hopefully, raking in profits, the LLC will grow and evolve. It will develop different needs and more complicated processes. Keep everything running smoothly but updating your operating agreement as changes occur.
First, all LLC managers/members must approve the change. To seek approval, follow the guidelines you already outlined in your operating agreement for ratifying amendments.
Because it isn’t recorded with the state, modifying your agreement is as simple as making changes to the Word document or PDF you keep in your own files.
For example: your registered agent resigns and, following Nebraska law, you appoint a registered agent service to take their place. Simply pull up your electronic file, enter the new agent information, save it, and print a copy. Make sure you keep a draft of the previous document as well so you can track the changes you’ve made, just in case the state ever has any questions.
Hiring an Attorney
Worried that you might miss a critical detail? Uncomfortable with legal minutiae? If you want to ensure your operating agreement provides for all possible outcomes and disputes, you might consider hiring an attorney to review it or write it entirely.
Some attorneys have a flat rate for drafting an operating agreement; others bill by the hour. Either way, you’ll only need their assistance for a limited period of time. Use a site like Avvo to find the right fit for your business. Avvo’s database lets you sort by location, rate, and more – it even shows Nebraska lawyers that specialize in LLCs.
Hiring an LLC Formation Service
The LLC formation process, with its forms and fees, might make you want to throw up your hands and surrender. Don’t do that! Instead, consider hiring an online service like ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent.
An online service like we mentioned earlier can quickly take care of all your necessary filings. Plus, they’ll create a customized operating agreement for you!
Given the amount of time you would spend drafting an agreement from scratch, a formation service is worth it. Not only will you receive a meticulously researched and crafted operating agreement, but you’ll also be able to spend more time growing your business, planning your next move, or just relaxing.
It might not be a required filing, but Nebraska’s LLC Act still has a lot to say about the powers and restrictions of an operating agreement.
LLCs are almost completely at the mercy of their operating agreements, which govern nearly every aspect of their existence. According to the Nebraska Revised Statutes 21-110, your agreement can dictate (among other things):
- The duties and responsibilities of its members
- The standards for performance measurement
- Procedures for relieving a member of responsibility
- The business activities and conduct of the LLC and its members
Although it governs many aspects of your LLC, the operating agreement isn’t the highest authority – that honor belongs to the state. Anything outlined in your operating agreement overrides many of the state’s default LLC Act laws, but it cannot override other state and federal laws. The agreement cannot authorize illegal activities and it cannot exempt your LLC from state-ordained requirements and penalties. For example, if you fail to file Annual Reports or maintain a valid registered agent, the state will administratively dissolve your LLC despite anything your operating agreement might say.
When you create and revise your operating agreement, refer to the Revised Statutes 21-110, keep the state’s restrictions in mind, and make your document as detailed as possible. Do these three things, and your LLC will be prepared to thrive for years to come.