Virginia LLC Operating Agreement
Every Virginia LLC should have an operating agreement in place.
While not legally required by the state, having a written operating agreement will set clear rules and expectations for the management and operations of your LLC.
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Free Virginia LLC Operating Agreement Templates
We offer operating agreement templates for single-member LLCs and multi-member LLCs (including member-managed and manager-managed) as well as a customizable operating agreement tool.
Single-Member LLC Operating Agreement
Our single-member LLC operating agreement template was created for limited liability companies with only one member, where the sole member has full control over all affairs of the LLC and no other individuals have a membership interest in the company.
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Multi-Member LLC Operating Agreements
Our multi-member LLC templates are meant for LLCs with more than one member. There are two types available: manager-managed and member-managed.
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Create Custom Operating Agreement
Create a custom operating agreement using our free tool. Just answer a few basic questions, and the tool will develop an operating agreement for your new LLC.
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What Is a Virginia LLC Operating Agreement?
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An operating agreement is a legal document that outlines the ownership structure and operating procedures of an LLC.
Whether you are starting a single-member or multi-member LLC, your operating agreement should address all of the topics below. Some of these stipulations will not have much bearing on the actual operations of a single-member LLC, but are still important to include for the sake of legal formality.
- Organization: When the LLC was officially formed, who its members are, and how ownership is divided. Multi-member LLCs may utilize an equal ownership structure or assign various members different “units” of ownership.
- Management & Voting: Whether the LLC will be managed by its members or by an appointed manager, and how members will go about voting on business matters. Typically, each member has one vote, but you may wish to give some members more voting power than others. For more information on managing your LLC, read our Member-Managed vs Manager-Managed guide.
- Capital Contributions: The amount of money each member has invested in the business. This is also where you should establish an approach to raising additional funds in the future.
- Distributions: How profits and losses will be divided among the members. The most common option is to distribute profits evenly. If you want them divided a different way, this should be detailed in your operating agreement. For more information on the basics of LLC ownership, read our Contributions and Distributions guide.
- Changes to Membership Structure: How roles and ownership will be transferred in the event that a member leaves the company. It’s essential to lay out the process for buying out and/or replacing a member in the LLC’s governing document.
- Dissolution: Dissolution: If at some point all the members of your LLC decide you no longer wish to conduct business, you should officially dissolve it. Outlining the hypothetical process of dissolving your business is an important aspect of your operating agreement. To learn how to dissolve your Virginia LLC, read our Virginia LLC Dissolution article.
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Why Should I Have a Virginia LLC Operating Agreement?
No matter what type of Virginia LLC you're starting, you'll want to create an operating agreement. Here's why:
It’s recommended by the state. According to the Code of Virginia, Limited Liability Company Act § 12.1-1023, all members of a Virginia LLC may enter into an operating agreement to regulate the internal affairs of the company.
- It'll prevent conflict among your business partners. If you're starting a multi-member LLC, having an operating agreement will prevent misunderstandings amongst your team by setting clear expectations about each partner's role and responsibilities.
- It helps preserve your limited liability status. If you're the sole owner of a single-member LLC in Virginia, having an operating agreement will help to ensure your limited liability status is upheld by court officials, and add to your business's credibility as a whole.
The full text of the statute can be found below:
1. The members of a limited liability company may enter into any operating agreement to regulate or establish the affairs of the limited liability company, the conduct of its business and the relations of its members. A limited liability company is bound by its operating agreement whether or not the limited liability company executes the operating agreement. An operating agreement may contain any provisions regarding the affairs of a limited liability company and the conduct of its business to the extent that such provisions are not inconsistent with the laws of the Commonwealth or the articles of organization. An operating agreement may provide rights to any person, including a person who is not a party to the operating agreement, to the extent set forth in the operating agreement.
2. If a limited liability company has only one member, an operating agreement shall be deemed to include:
a. Any writing signed by the member, without regard to whether the writing constitutes an agreement, that relates to the affairs of the limited liability company and the conduct of its business.
b. Any agreement, regardless of whether the agreement is in writing, between the member and the limited liability company, that relates to the affairs of the limited liability company and the conduct of its business, provided that the limited liability company has a manager that is a person other than the member.
B. Adoption and amendment.
1. An operating agreement must initially be agreed to by all of the members. Unless the articles of organization or a written operating agreement specifically requires otherwise, an operating agreement need not be in writing.
2. If the articles of organization or an operating agreement does not provide for the manner by which an operating agreement may be amended, then all of the members must agree to any amendment of an operating agreement.
3. If the articles of organization or the operating agreement provide for the manner by which an operating agreement may be amended, including by requiring the approval of a person who is not a party to the operating agreement or requiring the satisfaction of conditions, an operating agreement may be amended only in that manner or as otherwise permitted by law; provided that (i) the approval of any person may be waived by that person and (ii) any conditions may be waived by all persons for whose benefit the conditions were intended.
C. Enforcement of operating agreement.
1. A court of equity may enforce an operating agreement by injunction or by such other relief that the court in its discretion determines to be fair and appropriate in the circumstances.
2. As an alternative to injunctive or other equitable relief, when the provisions of § 13.1-1047 are applicable, the court may order dissolution of the limited liability company.
After Creating Your Virginia LLC Operating Agreement
Once you have finished your operating agreement, you do not need to file it with your state. Keep it for your records and give copies to the members of your LLC.
Following any major company event, such as adding or losing a member, it is a good idea to review and consider updating the operating agreement. Depending on how your operating agreement is written, it may require some or all of the members to approve an amendment to the document.
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Frequently Asked Questions
While it's a good idea to create an operating agreement before filing your Articles of Organization, the state does not discourage LLCs from waiting until the formation process is complete. It's worth noting that some banks require you to submit an operating agreement in order to open a business bank account.
No. Operating agreements are to be retained by the LLC members. There is no need to file your operating agreement with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.