LLC Operating Agreement in Washington 2024: An Essential Guide

LLCBase is your go-to place for everything about LLCs, and it's led by Brian Cohan, who's an expert in the field. Brian and our team are here to give you clear and helpful advice on how to set up and manage an LLC. We've been through the process and know the ins and outs. Our articles and guides are based on real experiences, making them practical for you. We're committed to helping you make smart choices for your business. With LLCBase, you're in good hands as you navigate the world of LLCs.

Washington Operating Agreement: What is an LLC Operating Agreement

Embark on your exciting entrepreneurial adventure in Washington and strengthen your LLC foundation with a well-crafted Washington LLC Operating Agreement. Discover the importance of this vital document, serving as your LLC’s backbone, through our informative guide. Become well-versed in the responsibilities, rights, and rules governing your business in Washington.

Dive into the world of LLCs with our comprehensive guide to help you navigate the complexities of establishing and maintaining a successful business in Washington. Trust LLCBase will assist you every step, from crafting a tailored Operating Agreement to mastering its nuances. Let’s set sail on this entrepreneurial journey and build a thriving LLC in Washington together!

What is an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is a legal document that outlines an LLC’s ownership structure, management, and operational procedures. It is crucial for businesses of all sizes and is a binding contract among the members. A well-drafted Operating Agreement can ensure the smooth operation of your business and minimize disputes among members. Although not required in every state, having an Operating Agreement in place is highly recommended, even for single-member LLCs.

An Operating Agreement in Washington serves as a guideline for the LLC’s operations and provides a framework for resolving member disputes. It also establishes each member’s rights, responsibilities, and liabilities, helping protect their assets. It is a legally binding document. Creating an Operating Agreement tailored to your business needs and compliant with Washington laws is essential.

Recommended: Ready for a solid foundation with a well-crafted LLC Operating Agreement? Hire an LLC Formation Service to ensure your LLC’s backbone is built for success! We recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup

What Should an Operating Agreement Contain

An effective Washington Operating Agreement should include the following key components:

Article I: Organization

This section outlines the essential details of your LLC, including its name, which should comply with Washington naming requirements, its purpose, which should provide a clear and concise description of the business activities; and the principal place of business, specifying the registered office address within the state. When starting a business in Washington, the effective date of formation should be included, as well as the duration of the LLC, whether perpetual or for a specific term. This article should also mention any relevant state-specific requirements, such as naming Registered Agent who will receive legal documents on behalf of the LLC.

Article II: Management and Voting

In this part of the Operating Agreement, the management structure of the LLC should be clearly defined, whether it will be managed by its members or designated managers. The decision-making process should be outlined, including how decisions will be made, the voting rights of each member, and any specific roles and responsibilities of the members or managers. Additionally, this section should include provisions for holding meetings, such as the frequency, notice requirements, and agenda preparation. Quorum requirements and the procedure for amending the Operating Agreement should be specified, which may require a supermajority or unanimous vote.

Article III: Capital Contributions

This section should detail the initial capital contributions made by each member, specifying the amount, form (cash, property, or services), and the percentage ownership interest in the LLC. The process for future contributions should also be outlined, including any conditions or requirements for additional contributions. Furthermore, the agreement should specify how additional capital will be raised, whether through loans, the issuance of new membership interests, or other methods. The valuation of contributions made in property or services should be addressed, ensuring a fair and equitable allocation of ownership interests.

Article IV: Distributions

This article should describe how profits and losses will be allocated among the members, which may be based on their capital accounts, ownership percentages, or a predetermined formula. The timing and manner of distributions should be specified, as well as any restrictions or limitations on distributions, such as maintaining a minimum capital balance. This section should also address specific tax-related issues, such as allocating tax credits and deductions, ensuring compliance with Washington tax laws, and applicable federal tax regulations.

Article V: Membership Changes

An effective Washington Operating Agreement should include provisions for handling changes in membership, such as the addition of new members, which may require the approval of existing members and the satisfaction of certain conditions. The withdrawal or death of a member should be addressed, outlining the process for buying out or distributing the departing member’s ownership interest. The transfer or sale of a member’s ownership interest should also be detailed, including any restrictions on transfers, rights of first refusal, or approval requirements to ensure the continuity and stability of the LLC.

Article VI: Dissolution

This final article should outline the circumstances under which the LLC may be dissolved, including a unanimous vote of the members, the occurrence of a specific event, or a court order. The procedure for winding up the business affairs should be specified, including the payment of outstanding debts and liabilities, the distribution of remaining assets among the members, and the preparation and filing of final financial statements. This section should also address any required notifications to government agencies, such as the Washington Secretary of State, and the filing of any necessary documents to effectuate the dissolution, ensuring a smooth and legally compliant conclusion to the LLC’s existence.

Overall, crafting an operating agreement can be challenging and time-consuming; however, with the support of the best LLC formation services in Washington, you’ll be able to create one smoothly and worry-free!

LLC Services

Rating & Pricing

Top Features

Learn More

#1 Editor's Choice

$0 + State Filing Fee

  • Free LLC Formation

  • Various Legal Services

  • Attorney Advice

$299 + State Filing Fee

  • Single Package

  • Flat Pricing

  • Legal Services

How to Create an Operating Agreement in Washington

Operating agreements are essential to the smooth functioning of a Limited Liability Company (LLC), as they outline the rules and regulations by which the company will operate. They also provide a legal framework for dispute resolution and define each member’s rights and responsibilities. Creating an operating agreement can be complex, but following these five steps will ensure a reliable outcome in Washington.

1. Research Washington LLC Laws and Regulations

Before drafting an operating agreement, familiarize yourself with Washington’s specific LLC laws and regulations. Each state may have unique requirements for LLCs, such as annual fees, reporting requirements, and rules on allocating profits and losses among members. Consult Washington governing agency responsible for business registration, such as the Secretary of State office, to obtain necessary information and guidance on state-specific rules.

2. Compile Essential Information and Documents

Before writing the operating agreement, gather all relevant information and documentation about your LLC, including:

  • Legal name of the LLC and principal location
  • Registered agent’s name and contact information
  • Name(s) of LLC members and their contact information
  • Percentage ownership of each member
  • Initial capital contributions of each member
  • Management structure (whether member-managed or manager-managed)
  • Anticipated distribution of profits and losses among members

3. Outline the Terms and Provisions

Craft a comprehensive outline of the key terms and provisions that will be included in the operating agreement. This should cover:

  • Operating capital and member capital contributions (both initial and additional)
  • Ownership percentage and sharing of profits and losses
  • Allocation of management responsibilities and decision-making authority
  • Voting rights of members and the procedure for voting on important matters
  • Rules governing admission and withdrawal of members
  • Dispute resolution process and dissolution procedures
  • Any other provisions relevant to the unique nature of your LLC

4. Draft the Operating Agreement

Using the outline and information you’ve gathered; create a comprehensive operating agreement tailored to the specific needs of your LLC in compliance with Washington laws and regulations. It may be helpful to seek the assistance of an attorney or legal service familiar with Washington business law. Make sure the final document clearly lays out:

  • The specific duties and responsibilities of LLC members
  • The detailed structure of management and decision-making authority
  • The specific allocation of profits and losses
  • The steps for handling disputes and potential dissolution

5. Review, Revise and Sign

Before finalizing the operating agreement, have all LLC members review the document to ensure they agree with its terms and conditions. Make any necessary revisions, and then have all members sign and date the agreement. Filing the operating agreement with Washington governing agency is not typically required, but retain a signed copy for your LLC’s records and provide a copy to each member.

Completing these five steps will help you create a reliable operating agreement tailored to your LLC’s unique needs and compliant with Washington’s laws and regulations. It will establish a clear framework for the operation and management of your business, ensuring a stable foundation for success.

Recommended: Tired of the long and time-demanding rpocess? Hire an LLC Formation Service to guide you through every step of crafting your operating agreement in efficient and cost-effective manner. We recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup

What to Do After Completing the Operating Agreement

Here are the things that you must do after completing the operating agreement of your Washington LLC.

1. Execute the Agreement: After drafting your Operating Agreement, all members should review, sign, and date the document to make it legally binding. Notarizing the document for added legitimacy is good practice, although it is not a legal requirement in most states.

2. Distribute Copies: Provide each member with a copy of the signed Operating Agreement for their records. Keeping the original document in a safe and secure location, such as a company binder or a safe deposit box, is essential.

3. Register with State Agencies: Ensure that the appropriate agencies receive the document if your state requires you to submit a copy of your Operating Agreement during the LLC formation process or any subsequent filings. Check your state’s specific requirements to ensure compliance.

Guide When Starting an LLC in Washington

Starting an LLC in Washington after completing your operating agreement? You’ll want to follow this straightforward and well-organized step-by-step guide, making for a stress-free and enjoyable start to your business venture!

Step 1: Reserve Your Business Name

If you still need to form your LLC, reserve your desired business name with the 180 days to ensure it remains available. The fees for reserving a name online are $30, and for reserving by mail, the fee is $30. You can use the Washington Secretary of State Corporations and Charities Filing System to check the availability of your desired name before submitting the reservation request.

Recommended: Need to secure a winning business name for your LLC? Choose an LLC business solution and let it reserve your dream name, propelling your venture toward success! We recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Step 2: Register the LLC

Depending on your business activities and location, you may need to register your Washington LLC with the Washington State Department of Revenue. This could include registering for the state income tax at the 0%; Washington has no state corporate income tax and state sales tax at the 6.50%. Additionally, you may be required to pay an annual franchise tax, with a late filing fee of in Washington, there is no late filing if not submitted on time.

Step 3: Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Before you kickstart your operations in Washington, it is crucial to understand and comply with all state and local requirements. This involves researching and obtaining all necessary permits and business licenses through the Washington Secretary of State. The types of business licenses required may vary depending on the nature of your business. For instance, your business may require professional licenses, which ensures you meet the necessary standards and qualifications to provide your services. Further, if your business involves physical premises, zoning permits may be necessary to ensure your business activities align with the local zoning laws. The complexity may extend further if your business operations involve potential health hazards, requiring you to seek approval from the health department.

Non-compliance with these requirements could attract severe penalties and fines or even lead to the closure of the business. Therefore, keeping abreast of the latest changes is critical to ensure your business complies with applicable laws and regulations. Given the potential complexity of the regulatory landscape in Washington, consulting with legal and business experts in the region might be beneficial. This approach could save time, reduce your liability, and contribute to the smooth operation of your business. So, to evade legal complications and unnecessary exposure to the risk of non-compliance, ensure thorough research and adherence to the state and local business requirements. It lays a strong legal foundation for your business venture, fostering a seamless startup experience in Washington.

We have also compiled a list of the best business attorneys in Washington who can help you obtain your business licenses, secure permits, and handle other Washington requirements!

Recommended: Looking for a hassle-free way to obtain licenses and permits for your LLC? An LLC Formation Service is your key to success! We recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Step 4: Get the EIN

The next step towards starting a construction company in Washington is applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). An EIN, also referred to as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number that the IRS assigns to businesses operating in the United States for identification purposes. This number is essential for tax administration and must be included in your tax return forms. It is also needed when opening a business bank account and helps maintain a separate legal identity for your business.

There are two main ways in which you can apply for an EIN in Washington – online and by mail. The online application process is simpler and faster. You can apply online on the IRS website if your principal business is in the United States. If you prefer to apply by mail, you must fill out Form SS-4, which you can download from the IRS website, and send to the IRS. Applying for an EIN is completely free of charge, and upon completion, your EIN is issued immediately when applying online. If you apply by mail, you can expect to receive your EIN within four weeks. Overall, obtaining an EIN is crucial in establishing a construction company in Washington.

Recommended: Need an EIN for your LLC without the stress? A reliable LLC Formation Service got your back! Easily obtain your EIN and kickstart your business journey. We recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Step 6: File the Annual Report

In certain states, maintaining the good standing of your LLC involves more than just staying compliant with given state regulations. You may also be required to submit an annual report to the state authorities; this is a general reporting requirement that details necessary information about your business, such as the names and addresses of members, the nature of the business, and changes, if any, to your LLC. This helps keep the state updated about your business’s operations and structure. The frequency of filing your report may vary depending on specific state requirements; it could be annually or every 1 year (last day of the anniversary month).

In Washington, the process of filing an annual report also involves remitting a fee, known as the $60. This fee usually covers the cost of processing your report and maintaining your business record with the state. It’s crucial to note that failure to file your report or pay the necessary fees as stipulated might lead to penalties or, worse, administrative dissolution. Therefore, understanding your state’s specific requirements for maintaining your LLC’s good standing and diligently meeting these expectations is key for your business’s uninterrupted operation. It ensures you’re legally compliant and maintains your business’s credibility and reputation.

Step 7: Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing

In the business world, credibility and legal integrity play a significant role in attracting potential stakeholders. When establishing an LLC in Washington, obtaining a Certificate of Good Standing can help validate your business’s compliance with state regulations. This crucial document confirms your company’s status as a legally recognized entity within the state, with up-to-date state-filed paperwork, no outstanding fees, and adherence to all necessary state requirements. Therefore, by presenting this certification, you demonstrate proactivity in maintaining good legal standing, bolstering your business’s credibility.

The Certificate of Good Standing serves more than establishing compliance. You might find it a necessary document for several important business activities. Compiled at the Washington Secretary of State‘s office, it is a common requirement when opening a business bank account. Financial institutions must ensure your LLC’s validity before trusting it with a bank account. Beyond that, this certificate becomes even more critical if you plan to secure additional financing or find partners. It is proof of your business’s good legal health, positively influencing your company’s relationship with potential financiers or partners. Therefore, requesting the Certificate of Good Standing from the Washington Secretary of State‘s office becomes an essential action point in your business setup checklist.

Recommended: Ready to showcase your LLC’s reputation with a Certificate of Good Standing? Hire an LLC Formation Service and let them help you shine! We recommend –

Our #1 Pick: LegalZoom – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Step 8: Open a Business Bank Account

To maintain the separation between your personal and business finances, open a dedicated business bank account for your LLC. This will make tracking expenses, managing cash flow, and maintaining accurate financial records easier. Many banks offer business accounts with various benefits and features tailored to the needs of small businesses.

Step 9: Maintain Ongoing Compliance

Ensure your LLC complies with state and local regulations, including timely filing annual reports, payment of required fees, and maintaining accurate records. Staying up-to-date with any changes to laws and regulations can help prevent potential legal issues and maintain your LLC’s good standing.

Following these steps after forming an Operating Agreement can ensure your LLC’s smooth and successful start. By staying compliant with state and local regulations, maintaining accurate financial records, and protecting your business with insurance, you can build a strong foundation for your company’s future growth and success.

Why Do I Need an Operating Agreement

1. Legal Protection: An Operating Agreement helps protect the limited liability status of your Washington LLC, shielding your assets from potential business debts and liabilities. It also provides legal protection by outlining each member’s rights, responsibilities, and liabilities, minimizing the likelihood of member disputes.

2. Management and Operational Clarity: An Operating Agreement establishes your LLC’s management structure, whether member-managed or manager-managed. It also outlines the decision-making process, voting rights, and other operational procedures, ensuring clarity and consistency in the day-to-day management of your business.

3. Customization: An Operating Agreement allows you to tailor the rules and procedures of your LLC in Washington to suit your specific business needs, rather than relying on default state laws that may not be a perfect fit for your company.

4. Credibility and Professionalism: Having a well-drafted Operating Agreement in place demonstrates your commitment to running a professional and legitimate business, making it easier to establish relationships with banks, investors, and other business partners.


What is a Washington Operating Agreement?
A Washington Operating Agreement is a legal document that outlines the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC established in Washington State.
Is having a Washington Operating Agreement mandatory?
No, it is not mandatory to have a Washington Operating Agreement, but it is highly recommended.
Can I make changes to my Washington Operating Agreement?
Yes, you can modify your Washington Operating Agreement at any time, provided all members are informed and in agreement.
Can I create a Washington Operating Agreement after forming my LLC?
Yes, you can create a Washington Operating Agreement after forming your LLC; there is no time limit on when it can be created.
What must I include in my Washington Operating Agreement?
Your Washington Operating Agreement is unique to your business’s needs, but generally should include your LLC name, member information, management structure, profit and loss allocation, capital contributions, and dissolution provisions.
How do I obtain a Washington Operating Agreement?
You can create a Washington Operating Agreement through legal software or hire a business lawyer to draft one for you.
Must my Washington Operating Agreement be notarized?
No, notarization of a Washington Operating Agreement is not required; however, members must sign the agreement.
Do all LLC members in Washington need to sign the Operating Agreement?
Yes, all members must sign and agree to the terms laid out in the Operating Agreement.
Can an LLC without a Washington Operating Agreement be sued?
Yes, an LLC without a Washington Operating Agreement is still held accountable to the laws of Washington State.
Can a Washington Operating Agreement be enforced outside of the state?
Yes, if it was properly constructed, a Washington Operating Agreement can be enforced outside the state.
Can I dissolve my LLC without a Washington Operating Agreement?
Yes, an LLC can be dissolved without a Washington Operating Agreement; however, handling dissolution with no agreement can be more difficult.
Can a Washington LLC have only one member?
Washington law allows an LLC to have only one member.
Can out-of-state members be included in a Washington Operating Agreement?
Yes, out-of-state members can be included in a Washington Operating Agreement.
Can I transfer my ownership in a Washington LLC?
Yes, LLC members can transfer their ownership interest, but it must be in compliance with the terms laid out in the Washington Operating Agreement.
Can I have different classes of members in my Washington LLC?
Yes, your Washington LLC Operating Agreement can contain provisions for different classes of members.
Can non-US citizens own a Washington LLC?
Yes, non-US citizens can own a Washington LLC.
Can an LLC operate under a different name in Washington State?
Yes, an LLC can operate under an assumed business name after filing a trade name registration.
What is the Washington LLC annual report fee?
LLC annual report fees vary depending on the state, with the fee for Washington State currently at $71.
Can a Washington LLC member also be an employee of the LLC?
Yes, a member of a Washington LLC can also be an employee of the LLC.
Can a Washington LLC sell stock or issue debt?
No, LLCs are not allowed to sell stock or issue debt as corporations do.
What happens if a Washington LLC member dies or becomes incapacitated?
The Operating Agreement should authority and procedure for how the LLC would continue if its member passes away or becomes incapacitated.
How do Washington LLC members monetize their interest?
Washington LLC members can monetize their interest through partnership buyouts, the sale of the entire LLC, or through specific investment offerings.
Can I merge my Washington LLC with another LLC in a different state?
Yes, Washington LLCs can merge with LLCs in other states, including those of different legal structures, depending on the approval of both states involved.
How long does it take to create a WA Operating Agreement?
Creating a Washington Operating Agreement varies depending on the complexity of your LLC’s operations, but it’s possible to draft one yourself or hire a lawyer to do it for you, which may take a few days to a week.
If I’m doing business inside and outside Washington State, where should I form my LLC?
Generally, to avoid having to register it in many different states, it’s best to form an LLC in the Washington State where it primarily operates from.
Can Washington LLCs choose their tax status?
Yes, Washington LLCs can choose among three different tax statuses
Does operating an LLC in Washington State provided any independent IP protections?
No, operating your LLC in Washington State does not automatically confer independent intellectual property protection.
Can a Washington LLC shield from third-party liability?
Yes a Washington LLC has the potential to protect its members from third-party liability in some cases, by shielding members’ personal assets.
Are there residency requirements to register a Washington LLC?
Members of a Washington LLC do not need to be residents of Washington or the United States.
Is a Washington Operating Agreement required by law?
No, a Washington Operating Agreement is not required by law in the state of Washington. However, it is highly recommended that every Washington-based LLC has an Operating Agreement.
Who should be included in the Washington Operating Agreement?
Every LLC member should be included in the Washington Operating Agreement.
What happens if there is no Washington Operating Agreement?
Failure to create and maintain a Washington Operating Agreement can lead to a number of negative consequences, including legal disputes, disagreement or confusion between members, and potential personal financial liability.
Is it necessary to file a Washington Operating Agreement with the Secretary of State?
No, there is no need to file a Washington Operating Agreement with the Secretary of State.
What should be included in a Washington Operating Agreement?
The Washington Operating Agreement should include the company’s name, the names of the members, their ownership percentages, management rights, the rules or procedures for decision-making, allocation of profits and losses, the procedures for dissolution, and more.
Can a Washington LLC have more than one Operating Agreement?
No, a Washington LLC can only have one Operating Agreement.
Can an Operating Agreement be amended in Washington?
Yes, an Operating Agreement can be amended in Washington.
How should an amendment to the Washington Operating Agreement be made?
The amendment process for the Washington Operating Agreement should be clearly outlined in the original agreement, which typically involves a vote or written consent of the members.
Can a Washington LLC member transfer their ownership interest without amending the Operating Agreement?
No, the Operating Agreement should be amended when a member’s ownership interest is transferred.
Who should sign the Washington Operating Agreement?
All LLC members should sign the Washington Operating Agreement.
What is the disadvantage of using a free Washington Operating Agreement template?
A free Washington Operating Agreement template might not be tailored to specific circumstances, and important details might get overlooked, which can lead to legal disputes down the road.
Can an attorney or legal professional help a company draft a Washington Operating Agreement?
Yes, it is highly recommended to seek assistance from an attorney or a legal professional when drafting a Washington Operating Agreement.
Can oral agreements replace a Washington Operating Agreement?
No, oral agreements cannot replace Washington Operating Agreements.
Are the terms of the Washington Operating Agreement confidential?
Yes, the terms of the Washington Operating Agreement are confidential, unless required by law.
What is the average cost of drafting a Washington Operating Agreement with an attorney?
The cost of drafting a Washington Operating Agreement can vary depending on the complexity of the LLC and the attorney’s hourly rate.
Can an LLC Operating Agreement be stored online in Washington?
Yes, an LLC Operating Agreement can be stored online in Washington.
Should a Washington Operating Agreement list the capital contributions of each member?
Yes, a Washington Operating Agreement should list the capital contributions of each member.
Can a Washington Operating Agreement waive the personal liability of the LLC’s members?
Yes, a Washington Operating Agreement can waive the personal liability of the LLC’s members.
What does it mean when a Washington Operating Agreement is “member-managed”?
A member-managed Washington Operating Agreement assigns all decision-making authority to the members of the LLC.
Can a management-managed Washington Operating Agreement assign decision-making authority to non-members?
Yes, a management-managed Washington Operating Agreement can assign decision-making authority to non-members.
Is it necessary to identify the registered agent and address for service of process in a Washington Operating Agreement?
Yes, it is necessary to identify the registered agent and address for service of process in a Washington Operating Agreement.
What is an operating agreement buy-sell provision for Washington?
An Operating Agreement buy-sell provision is a section of the Washington Operating Agreement that establishes a process for an LLC member to sell their interest in the LLC.
Can a Washington LLC have a “silent” member?
Yes, a Washington LLC can have a “silent” member who does not have voting rights.
Should an attorney review the Washington Operating Agreement at least once per year?
Yes, it is recommended that the attorney review the Washington Operating Agreement at least once per year.
Can the terms of the Washington Operating Agreement conflict with state law?
No, the terms of the Washington Operating Agreement cannot conflict with state law.
What is the difference between a Washington Operating Agreement and a Certificate of Formation?
A Washington Operating Agreement is an internal document outlining the management and operation of an LLC, while a Certificate of Formation is a legal document that grants the right to form an LLC in Washington.
Should the Washington Operating Agreement be kept updated and relevant?
Yes, the Washington Operating Agreement should be kept updated and relevant.

Also Read


A well-crafted Washington Operating Agreement is essential for the smooth operation of your LLC and the protection of your assets. By including these key components and tailoring the document to your specific needs, you can create a solid legal foundation for your business. It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney or business professional when creating your Operating Agreement to ensure compliance with Washington laws and regulations. With a comprehensive and effective Operating Agreement, you can focus on confidently growing and managing your business. To learn more about forming an LLC in Washington, visit LLCBase.

Leave a Comment