Does an llc go through probate

Does an llc go through probate

Yes and No, Whether or not an LLC goes through probate depends on who the member is.

An LLC is a separate legal entity, and if the LLC—not the owner—owns the accounts and property, then those assets will not go through probate. By designating a successor for the business in the operating agreement, the LLC can continue to operate smoothly even if the owner passes away. If you hold property in more than one state, you have to probate your will in each state in which you own property. To avoid this, many people will use trusts to hold property. However, you can also use an LLC to accomplish the same goal. However, if the owner of the LLC dies, their ownership interest in the LLC is an asset of their estate and will go through probate.

12 Factors that can affect whether an LLC goes through probate

The question does an llc go through probate comes up a lot. The factors that can influence this outcome are:

Ownership of Accounts and Property

The LLC owns the accounts and property, not the owner. As a result, the LLC being a separate legal entity from the owner allows for the avoidance of probate.

LLC Property Ownership by Members

When the property of the LLC is owned by its members, it avoids probate, as the members themselves possess the property rather than the LLC.

Assets Held in LLC’s Name

Assets owned directly by the LLC, such as real estate and bank accounts, must undergo probate. The court appoints a representative to distribute these LLC-owned assets.

Designating Successor in Operating Agreement

By appointing a successor in the operating agreement, the LLC ensures continuity post-owner’s demise. This minimizes the need for probate.

LLC Membership Interest as Personal Property

If the LLC membership interest is deemed as personal property, probate subjects it to distribution among the member’s heirs or beneficiaries.

LLC Holding Property

If the LLC holds a property instead of the individual, probate might be necessary. The court appoints a representative to distribute the property to heirs or beneficiaries.

Multi-State Property Ownership and Ancillary Probate

Holding property across states requires separate probates. An LLC or trust can mitigate this by centralizing ownership.

Asset Control, Protection, and Passing

Utilizing an LLC for asset control and protection during the owner’s lifetime, followed by asset transfer to beneficiaries, negates the need for probate.

Asset Protection via LLC

Employing an LLC provides asset protection against creditors and legal claims, decreasing the likelihood of probate.

Special Rules in Operating Agreement

The LLC’s operating agreement might outline distinct rules for asset distribution upon a member’s death. Such provisions can help evade the necessity of probate.

Outstanding Debts and Liabilities

Resolution of LLC debts and liabilities is prerequisite to distributing assets to the deceased member’s heirs or beneficiaries, potentially elongating the probate process.

Single Member vs. Multiple Members

If the LLC comprises a sole member, the ownership interest could become part of the estate, necessitating probate. Conversely, with multiple members, the ownership interest might pass directly to surviving members, bypassing probate.

transfer on death llc membership interest form

To create a transfer on death (TOD) LLC membership interest form, you can follow these general steps:

  1. Review the operating agreement: The operating agreement is a legal document that governs the operations and ownership of the LLC. Check if the operating agreement already includes provisions for transfer on death. If not, consider amending the operating agreement to include a TOD provision.
  2. Consult an attorney: It is recommended to consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning and business law. They can provide guidance on the specific requirements and legalities of creating a TOD form for your LLC membership interest.
  3. Draft the TOD provision: The TOD provision should clearly state that upon the death of a member, their membership interest in the LLC will transfer to the designated beneficiary without the need for probate. The provision should include the name of the beneficiary and any specific instructions or conditions for the transfer.
  4. Execute the TOD form: Once the TOD provision is drafted, it should be executed according to the requirements of your state’s laws. This may involve obtaining signatures from all members of the LLC and notarizing the document.
  5. Keep the form updated: It is important to periodically review and update the TOD form as needed. Changes in membership, beneficiaries, or personal circumstances may require revisions to the form.

Remember, the specific requirements and procedures for creating a TOD form may vary depending on your state’s laws and the provisions of your LLC’s operating agreement. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with applicable laws and to address any specific concerns or requirements related to your LLC membership interest transfer upon death.


In conclusion, utilizing an LLC for estate planning offers the advantages of personal liability protection and probate avoidance. Upon LLC formation, crafting an operating agreement becomes pivotal to delineate members’ rights, obligations, and income distribution. The occurrence of probate for an LLC hinges on the identity of the member. Following the demise of an LLC owner or member, probate channels the distribution of assets to settle debts and beneficiaries. Nevertheless, when an operational agreement specifies protocols for member demise, it takes precedence in managing this event.

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