by Richard Keyt, Arizona limited liability company attorney who has formed 9,000+ Arizona LLCs

You probably would not be surprised to learn that members of an Arizona limited liability company are not created by spontaneous combustion.  Nor do members magically appear out of thin air.  Time and time again we see situations where people completely ignore the legalities when it comes to documenting ownership of Arizona LLCs.  If Homer Simpson files Articles of Organization for a new member managed Arizona LLC and the document only names him as a member, Ned Flanders does not become a member of the LLC because Homer says to Ned “you own 25% of my new LLC.”

There are legal formalities that must be followed to properly document the ownership of an Arizona LLC.  We all know that we become the owner of a car by getting the current owner to sign the back of the title over to us.  There is language on the back of the title to an Arizona vehicle that says that the owner transfers the title to the new owner on the date specified.  The new owner must take the old title to the Department of Motor Vehicles and get a new title issued that shows the new owner as the owner of the vehicle.  The same principles apply to Arizona LLCs.  The former owner needs to sign a document that transfers the membership interest to the new owner and the Articles of Organization of the LLC on file with the Arizona Corporation Commission must be amended to reflect the change.

If you do not take care to properly document the addition or removal of one or more members to an Arizona LLC or the change of membership percentage between members, you are cruising for a legal bruising.  Arizona law is very explicit as to how a person or entity becomes a member of an Arizona LLC.  If a prospective new member fails to follow the requirements of Arizona law, a costly lawsuit may be required to get a court order that states who owns the membership interest.

Arizona Statutory Law

Arizona Revised Statutes Section 29-3401 states:

A. At the time of formation, a limited liability company must have at least one member. If a company is to have only one member on formation, the person becomes a member by agreeing to be a member and by being identified as the member in the Articles of Organization.  The member and the organizer may be, but are not required to be, different persons. If the member and organizer are different persons, the organizer acts on behalf of the initial member.

B. If a limited liability company is to have more than one member on formation, those persons become members as agreed by the persons before the formation of the company. The organizer acts on behalf of the persons in forming the company and may be, but is not required to be, one of the persons.

C. After formation of a limited liability company, a person becomes a member by any of the following:

1. as provided in the operating agreement.

2. as the result of a transaction effective under Article 10 of this Chapter.

3. by agreeing to become a member, with the affirmative vote or consent of all the members.

4. as provided in Section 29-3701.A.3.

If your Arizona limited liability company has a member that was not named in the initial Articles of Organization filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission or if it has a member who became a member after the company was formed, did the LLC comply with ARS Section 29-3401?  If not, that member has a problem and is technically not a member of the LLC.

Note the different procedures for admitting a member depending on whether the member becomes a member AS OF THE DATE OF FORMATION OF THE LLC or later. The method is different depending on the point in time when a person or entity is to become a member.

Potential Problem With Manager Managed LLCs

Arizona law says that a manager managed LLC must name in the initial Articles of Organization members who own 20% or more of the capital or profits of the LLC. If your Arizona LLC is manager managed, does it properly list those members who own 20% or more of the LLC and none of the members who own less than 20%?   If the Articles of Organization are not correct, the company should immediately file an amendment to its Articles of Organization to correct the document with Arizona Corporation Commission.

Potential Problem With New Members

If your LLC added a member after the initial Articles of Organization were filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission, did your LLC comply with ARS Section 29-3401 with respect to the member(s) added later? If not, it should do so immediately.

How to Document the Addition of a New Member

Has your Arizona LLC properly documented all changes involving members and their percentage of ownership of the company? If not, the company and its members risk having a dispute one day over who the owners are, how much does each member own and when did the member acquire the interest. These types of disputes frequently result in litigation and can be very expensive to resolve. Do not delay properly documents changes involving members. The best time to document a change is when it occurs. Complete our Transfer of LLC Interest Agreement and order your change of member documents now before it is too late.

Normally, whenever there is a change with respect to any member of an Arizona LLC, the change should be evidenced, at a minimum, by all of the following documents:

1.  Assignment of Membership Interest Agreement: A buyer and seller (in a transaction that involves a purchase and sale) or an assignor and assignee (in a transaction that does not involve a sale) should sign an Assignment of Membership Interest Agreement that states the seller/assignor is assigning the interest to the buyer/assignee as of the effective date of the transfer. This document is equivalent to a Deed or Bill of Sale. It is the document that actually evidences the change of ownership from the seller/assignor to the buyer/assignee. You would not buy a home without getting a Deed and you should not acquire or transfer an interest in an Arizona without an Assignment of Membership Interest Agreement.

2.  Amendment to the Articles of Organization:  If the LLC is member managed, the Articles of Organization must list the names and address of all members.  If the LLC is manager managed, the Articles of Organization must list the names and addresses of only those members who own 20% or more of the company.

3.  Amendment to the Operating Agreement: Because the Operating Agreement is the primary document that evidences the ownership of the company and rights and obligations of the members, all members, including the all new members, should sign an Amendment to the Operating Agreement. The Amendment to the Operating Agreement should contain any changes resulting from the sale/assignment such as removing the names of terminated members, adding the names of new members, adding the addresses for notices of any new members, stating the revised percentage ownership of all members, changes in managers, if any, and any other changes resulting from the sale/assignment.

4.  Resolution of Members: All the members should sign a Resolution that evidences their approval to the change in membership interest and addition of a new member, if applicable. If all the members will not approve a transfer of a membership interest, and the LLC has an Operating Agreement that allows less than all of the members to approve a transfer, the members should have a formally noticed and called meeting to vote on the proposed transfer.

Fixed Fees for Change of Member Documents

Arizona limited liability lawyer Richard Keyt charges $195 to prepare Assignment of Membership Interest Agreement and $195 to prepare an Articles of Amendment to the Articles of Organization.  The filing for payable to the Arizona Corporation Commission to file the amendment is $60.   We will prepare the two documents and file the amendment with the Arizona Corporation Commission for $395, an amount that includes the $60 filing fee. If a change of members involves more than one recipient member and one transferring member (married couples owning their interests as community property are considered one member), we charge $195 for each additional Assignment of Membership Interest Agreement after the first one.

The above documents and prices are based on one member (or a husband and wife who are members) transferring all or a portion of the member’s interest for no consideration or for nominal consideration to: (i) one other member, (ii) one new member, or (iii) to the company. If your transaction involves more than nominal consideration, then in addition to the above documents, you should consider evidencing the transaction with a Membership Interest Purchase Agreement* (the agreement that contains the terms and conditions of the sale such as the purchase price), a Promissory Note (if the entire purchase price will not be paid at closing), a Security Agreement (and UCC-1 Financing Statement) and/or Deed of Trust (if the Promissory Note will be secured by a lien on the purchaser’s personal property and/or real property, respectively), and Non-competition Agreement signed by the seller that prevents the seller from competing with the company’s business. If your transaction involves more than nominal consideration, contact Richard Keyt at 480-664-7478 or [email protected] for the cost to prepare these additional documents.

*Membership Interest Purchase Agreement: A buyer and seller (in a transaction that involves a purchase and sale) or an assignor and assignee (in a transaction that does not involve a sale) should sign a Membership Interest Purchase Agreement that states the percentage interest being sold or transferred, how much money, if any, will be paid for the interest, the effective date, and any other terms and conditions applicable to the purchase. This document creates a legally binding contract between the parties to sell or transfer the membership interest. It is especially important when the transfer involves a substantial amount of money.

How to Hire Arizona LLC Attorney Richard Keyt to Document Your LLC’s Member Changes

To hire Richard Keyt to prepare change of member documents for an Arizona LLC complete and submit our Member Change Questionnaire.

If you have questions about the questionnaire or about documenting member changes of an Arizona LLC, contact KEYTLaw LLC attorney Richard Keyt (480-664-7478) or his son LLC attorney Richard C. Keyt (480-664-7472).  We do not charge for change of member related questions.

For People Who Want to Form an LLC Themselves

If you think you might want to create a do-it-yourself Arizona LLC you must read Arizona LLC attorney Richard Keyt’s article called “Step by Step Guide: How to Form Arizona LLC 2020 in (6 Easy Steps).”