For businesses in industries like construction or real estate, where unforeseen circumstances and hazardous conditions may hold the owner responsible, consider starting an LLC. The protection gained means you will not be held personally liable, protecting you and your family from litigation or the debts of the business. An LLC may not be the best choice for business owners who plan on raising capital through outside investment. LLCs are not public structures and do not have shareholders, so taking a company public is not an option either. However, in the event that you'd like to take your business public you may switch to a public legal structure, like a C corporation, later on.
Your name must be unique, and not deceptively similar, to any other trademarked name or business. It is also required that your name not be used to intentionally misrepresent the products or services you offer. For LLCs, nearly all states will also require you to add a signifier of your limited liability status, such as "LLC" or "L.L.C." to the end of your company's name. You may be able to operate under a name other than your formal LLC name by applying for and using a dba.
Please note: We believe accurate, plain-English legal information should help you solve many of your own legal problems. But it's not a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you want the help of a trained professional-- and we'll always point out situations in which we think that's a good idea-- consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.
LLP, Limited Liability Partnership: a partnership where a partner's liability for the debts of the partnership is limited except in the case of liability for acts of professional negligence or malpractice. In some states, LLPs may only be formed for purposes of practicing a licensed profession, typically attorneys, accountants and architects. This is often the only form of limited partnership allowed for law firms (as opposed to general partnerships).
Where the equipment you use in your business was acquired as a gift, you may report your estimate of its current market value on the Business Property Statement (that is, what you think it would sell for in the open market place). Enter that estimated value in the most current year's cost line and add a note indicating that the entry is an estimate.