In our March issue we discussed incorporation basics and entity selection. We focused on limited liability companies and corporations, as they are the most common entities used. We thought it might be helpful to follow up on that article with a brief discussion on professional limited liability companies and professional corporations.
PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY COMPANY
A professional limited liability company (“P.L.L.C.”) is organized for the sole purpose of providing professional services by licensed professionals. Generally, states don’t allow L.L.C.’s for businesses where a license is required. Licensed professionals who want the benefits of an L.L.C. must form a P.L.L.C. instead. A P.L.L.C. must be organized solely for the purpose of engaging in either a single licensed profession, or in two or more that can be lawfully practiced together. The name of the business must include the words “professional limited liability company,” or the abbreviation “P.L.L.C.” Generally, any person who is licensed to practice in a state under a designated profession may organize a P.L.L.C. A professional is a person licensed in a field such as health, law, engineering, architecture, accounting, actuarial science, or another similar field. However, licensing requirements may vary state by state. Therefore, one must thoroughly review the applicable statute for the state in which the P.L.L.C. will conduct business.
A professional or group of professionals considering incorporation would consider a P.L.L.C. for the favorable pass-through tax treatment and limited liability – a member of a P.L.L.C. is not liable for acts of another member or the entity’s debts. Note, however, that members remain personally liable for their own professional misconduct or malpractice. So, even if you practice a profession through a P.L.L.C., it is a good idea to carry malpractice insurance.