Every Hawaii LLC should have an Operating Agreement, but getting one doesn’t have to be expensive. You can download and customize your own Operating Agreement using our free template below.
Hawaii LLC Operating Agreement (Member-managed)
Hawaii LLC Operating Agreement (Manager-managed)
What is a Hawaii Operating Agreement?
A Hawaii LLC Operating Agreement is a written contract between the LLC Members (LLC owners). This legal document includes detailed information about membership structure, who owns the company and how the LLC is managed.
Single-Member LLCs and Multi-Member LLCs should draft an Operating Agreement, keep it with their business records, and give a copy to all Members.
What should be included in Limited Liability Company Operating Agreements?
Your Operating Agreement will include basic information about your Limited Liability Company. Some of the information will be the same as what is listed in your Hawaii LLC Articles of Organization. Operating Agreements should include:
- LLC Name
- LLC effective date
- Hawaii Registered Agent (if applicable)
- purpose of your LLC
- duration of your LLC
- and how your LLC will be taxed
Related reading: Is a Registered Agent a Member of an LLC?
Your Operating Agreement will list every LLC Member and how much of the Limited Liability Company they each own.
How much of the LLC someone owns is called their “LLC Membership Interest”.
LLC Membership Interest is most often expressed as a percentage (like 5%, 50%, 100%, etc.).
Initial Capital Contributions (putting money into your LLC)
After your LLC is approved, you should open an LLC bank account and put money into that account.
Each LLC Member makes an initial capital contribution. Capital contribution simply means a deposit of money into the LLC bank account.
You will list the initial capital contributions in your LLC’s Operating Agreement.
Pro tip: If you complete your Operating Agreement before you have opened an LLC bank account, just enter the amount the Members plan to deposit. If the amount of your deposit changes, it’s okay to edit your Operating Agreement with the actual amounts later.
- Related article: To learn more about capital contributions, like how much you should contribute, check out LLC Capital Contributions.
Statement about taxes
You will list how your LLC will be taxed in your Operating Agreement. There are four common ways an LLC can be taxed:
- LLC taxed as a Sole Proprietorship
- LLC taxed as a Partnership
- LLC taxed as an S-Corporation
- LLC taxed as a C-Corporation
Voting Rights of LLC Members
The rules of membership voting will be spelled out in your Hawaii LLC’s Operating Agreement.
If you use the Member-managed Operating Agreement, the voting powers are proportionate to the Ownership Interest.
If you use the Manager-managed Operating Agreement, the voting powers are also proportionate to the LLC Membership Interest. Then the Members vote to elect a Manager or Managers. The Manager(s) then has authority to make certain decisions on behalf of the LLC (without needing a vote by the Members).
However, certain things, like adding or removing an LLC Member, require a vote of the Members (and the Manager has no say).
Make sure all LLC Members have a copy
Once you finalize your Operating Agreement, make sure all the Members have a copy.
We recommend keeping a copy of the Operating Agreement with your LLC business records.
Operating Agreement FAQs
Is an Operating Agreement required for an LLC in Hawaii?
As per Section 428-103 of the Hawaii LLC Act, a written Operating Agreement isn’t legally required for an LLC in Hawaii.
But while it’s not required in Hawaii to conduct business, we strongly recommend having an Operating Agreement for your LLC. Having all the company operating procedures in writing can be helpful as the company grows.
And although Hawaii law doesn’t require one, both a Domestic LLC (Hawaii LLC) or a Foreign Limited Liability Company should have an Operating Agreement.
Additionally, financial institutions (like banks) and other organizations may need to see a copy of this paperwork in order for you to do business with them.
Why should an LLC with only one Member still have an Operating Agreement?
It’s best to have an Operating Agreement, even if you are the only Member (the sole owner) of your Hawaii LLC (a Single-Member LLC).
If you go to court, an Operating Agreement helps prove that your Single-Member LLC is being run as a separate legal entity. And that protects your personal assets.
Does a Multi-Member LLC need an Operating Agreement?
It’s best to have an Operating Agreement, especially for a Multi-Member LLC. This document will spell out ownership percentages, profit distribution, and management responsibilities.
If you go to court, an Operating Agreement helps prove that your Multi-member LLC is being run as a separate legal entity. (Said another way, it confirms the limited liability status of the company.)
Do I have to send my Operating Agreement to the state?
No, you don’t have to send your Operating Agreement to the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Business Registration Division, or any other government agency.
Operating Agreements are “internal documents”. Meaning, the Members just need to keep a copy with their business records.
The Operating Agreement is a legally binding document upon the LLC Members because of the Members’ signatures. It doesn’t need a government stamp of approval.
However, in the future, if your company were involved in a lawsuit or an audit, a court or government agency might ask to see a copy of your Operating Agreement.
Additionally, you may also need to show this document to:
- financial institutions when you open a business bank account
- financial institutions if you apply for a loan for the LLC
- a title company if your LLC is buying real estate
Does my LLC Operating Agreement need to be notarized?
No, your Operating Agreement doesn’t need to be notarized. Each Member just needs to sign it.
Once you (and the other LLC Members, if applicable) sign the Operating Agreement, then it becomes a legal document.
Can I write my own Operating Agreement?
Yes, but we recommend using a template to help you create a customized Operating Agreement.
An Operating Agreement is a legal document (it’s your LLC’s governing document). You don’t have to hire a lawyer to write one, though. Using a template helps make sure you cover everything you need to.
LLC University® offers free Operating Agreement templates that you can download and customize to write your own LLC Operating Agreement.
How do you write a simple Operating Agreement?
If you wanted to write a simple Hawaii Operating Agreement without using a template, you could. You’d need to check with the Hawaii LLC Act to make sure it meets all the requirements.
For example, at a minimum, you’d want your Hawaii LLC name, your Registered Agent information, your business purpose, the names of the LLC Members, and information about initial capital contributions.
However, there is a lot more information that is important to document about your LLC.
It’s probably a lot easier to start with an existing template. We have a free Operating Agreement template you can download on this page. Using the template, you can easily make a customized Operating Agreement.
What is the difference between an LLC and an Operating Agreement?
An LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a type of business structure. It’s a legal business entity that you form by filing a document called the Articles of Organization with the state.
An Operating Agreement is an internal document that governs how your LLC is run. It contains rules about how much of the company each Member of the LLC owns, and other details about management and taxes.
Said another way, the LLC is your legal entity. And the Operating Agreement is a written set of rules for how the LLC will operate.
You could have an LLC without an Operating Agreement (but you shouldn’t). But you can’t have an Operating Agreement without an LLC.
How do I set up an LLC in Hawaii?
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Hawaii:
- Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your Hawaii Registered Agent
- Filing Articles of Organization
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Research business license requirements
- Open LLC bank accounts
IRS: Paying Yourself
Hawaii LLC Act: Section 428-103
Hawaii DCCA: Domestic Limited Liability Companies
HAWAII LLC GUIDE
Follow the lessons below to form your Hawaii LLC.
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Easy to understand walk-through.
Hey Kevin, glad to hear. You’re welcome!