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Should You Incorporate As A Professional Corporation Or Professional LLC? by @DeborahSweeney

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When it comes to incorporating a small business, I generally recommend a broad range of legal formations to entrepreneurs. These entities often include limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships, and corporations. Each entity provides liability protection, which ensures the separation of personal and professional assets. Entities like these are also ideal across industries and occupations. Most entrepreneurs, whether they’re opening a bakery, starting a consulting business, or setting up a clothing boutique, can easily incorporate their business and find that their chosen entity is a good fit for them.

What about entrepreneurs in niche-based industries, like doctors and lawyers? These types of entrepreneurs come with specific practices and licenses. Their businesses are subsequently structured a bit differently and as such, would need to incorporate as either a professional corporation (PC) or professional LLC (PLLC).

Sounds like this describes your current occupation? Keep reading as we dig into what each entity does and why they matter for these types of professions.

Professional Corporation (PC)

What does a professional corporation do?

A professional corporation is a legal structure designed specifically by state law to protect the personal assets of licensed professionals. The entity provides limited liability protection, much like that of a traditional LLC. Your personal assets will remain protected in the event of a lawsuit or other legal obligations.

How does a professional corporation differ versus a traditional corporation? Again, much of the answer is found in what the practice does and its licenses. Shareholders, directors, and officers must all be part of the same profession. Proof of good standing, such as their licenses, must also be provided in order to qualify as a professional corporation.

A professional corporation is an ideal entity for… Businesses that offer professional services that require state licenses. Typically, these include companies that participate in the following activities.

  • Medical services
  • Legal services and representation
  • Accounting and financial services
  • Architectural services

What kinds of professionals benefit from a professional corporation? Take a look at the list below to see if you might qualify to incorporate as a PC.

  • Lawyers
  • Physicians
  • Engineers
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Optometrists
  • Accountants
  • Architects

Are there are any additional benefits to incorporating as a professional corporation (PC)?

One of the greatest benefits to incorporating as a professional corporation is protection from any negligence or malpractice of the practice’s associates.

Many professional services have more than partner and/or owner associated with it. Let’s use the example that a partner working for a medical service caused an injury. Even if it was accidental, there is a possibility that this partner could be the target of a lawsuit. What would happen to the other owners? Would they also be at fault for what the partner caused? No. The professional corporation would step in and shield the assets of the other owners.

Professional LLC (PLLC)

What does a professional LLC  do?

A professional LLC is necessary for professionals that work out of states where licenses are required in order to perform services. Much like a typical limited liability company, a professional LLC will separate a professional’s workplace and personal assets. A PLLC also limited personal liability for claims that are related to the negligence or errors of partners.

A professional LLC is an ideal entity for… Businesses that offer professional services that require state licenses. Sound familiar? All of the aforementioned companies, like those in the medical and accounting industries, may file for a PLLC. The same goes for the listed occupations, including doctors, lawyers, and engineers.

Should I know anything else about incorporating as a professional LLC (PLLC)?

One of the biggest benefits to incorporating as a PLLC is the ability to establish a professional identity for your business and its services. However, it’s important to research whether or not the state you do business out of has authorized PLLCs.

What does that mean? Essentially, you want to make sure that the state has given PLLCs the go-ahead to limit personal liability for claims related to a co-partner’s negligence, so one partner is not solely liable for these claims. Some states provide this legislation. Others do not. Before moving forward with this entity, it’s a good idea to check in with the state you plan to do business in to see if they are authorized to offer PLLC formations.

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Deborah Sweeney – Legal Expert, CEO, MyCorporation.com – Calabasas, CA

As CEO of MyCorporation Business Services, Inc., Deborah Sweeney is an advocate for protecting personal and business assets for business owners and entrepreneurs. With her experience in the fields of corporate and intellectual property law, Deborah has evolved from lawyer to business owner. She has extensive experience in the start-up and entrepreneurial industry as she has been involved in the formation of hundreds of thousands of businesses for MyCorporation.com’s customers.

Ms. Sweeney received her JD & MBA degrees from Pepperdine University. She is active in the community and loves working with students and aspiring entrepreneurs. She serves on the Board of Regents at California Lutheran University and is a founding member of Partners of Pepperdine. Deborah has served as an adjunct professor at the University of West Los Angeles and San Fernando School of Law in the areas of corporate and intellectual property law. Ms. Sweeney is also well-recognized for her written work online as a contributing writer with top business and entrepreneurial blogging sites.  She is a regular contributor on Forbes, American Express, Social Media Today, and BlogHer among many others.

In her ‘free’ time, Deborah enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, Benjamin (8) and Christopher (6). Deborah believes in the importance of family and credits the entrepreneurial business model for giving her the flexibility to enjoy both a career and motherhood. Follow her on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.

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