Do I have to use real personal name when signing checks and/or legal documents for my LLC?


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I am starting my own LLC internet-based service business (this will be just a one man shop - me). I would like to try to remain as personally anonymous as possible (not because of anything illegal, I just want to personally protect myself as best I can). My questions are as follows:

A) If my LLC needs to issue a check to a vendor for example, do I need to sign my personal name?

B) What about for service contracts or other legal documents? Will I need to sign my personal name?

C) If the answers to both A and B are "yes" then can I legally go by a different personal name in those instances? (i.e. by my middle name + last name).

Any links/resources to maintaining anonymity related to what I am talking about would be helpful.

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asked Mar 7 '12 at 12:37
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Kay
9 points
  • this throws up flags for me. Why do you want to be hidden? You can hire someone to manage all these things for you. (Accountants/attorneys, etc) but why are you so unwilling to be associated with your venture? When meeting with and working with vendors are you going to lie about your name? Sounds dubious to me. – Tim J 8 years ago
  • It is not the case at all that I want to be un-associated with my business. I am just curious how this process typically works. Upon further research I am finding out that it is customary to sign your name and also include your title. Thank you. – Kay 8 years ago
  • It is a bit more than customary to provide your name and title. In a C corp, you'd sign "Kay John, President". Anonymously signing docs is totally unprofessional. – Alain Raynaud 8 years ago
  • Anonymously signing docs was never the intention. – Kay 8 years ago
  • @Kay - the title of your question states otherwise... – Tim J 8 years ago

2 Answers


3

I think you may be unclear about how personal liability works in a company situation.

When you register a company and enter into a contract in the company's name, the company is the legal entity that is liable for fulfilling it's obligations under the terms of the contract. If the company fails in its obligations and is sued, it is the company's assets that are at risk. This is a major reason why people choose to do business in a company structure, because it protects their personal assets (such as their home) from being taken in this situation.

When you register the company, you (and others) may become directors of the company. In this capacity, you will sign cheques and contracts, but you are acting on behalf of the company, not in your personal capacity - if that makes sense. Unless you are negligent, you should be protected legally in this role.

The precise rules vary from country to country, but this is generally how companies/corporations work.

It is worth sitting down and chatting through this with your legal advisor so you have a precise understanding of the best way to structure things legally in your situation.

answered Mar 7 '12 at 15:38
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Susan Jones
4,128 points

2

There is no requirement that your signature be legible, or look anything like the way you normally write your name. For checks the key is that it match the signature card on file with the bank. It does not even need to be written by hand, it can be a stamp like large companies use for paychecks.

For contracts and legal documents it's not so much your signature that is the issue, it is the fact that virtually all such documents ask you to print your name and title in addition to signing.

As far as using an alias, in the US anyway they are generally OK so long as there is no intent to defraud.

The problem with what you wish to do is that you have already stated "I just want to personally protect myself as best I can" This could be taken to mean that if you write a check that is returned NSF (bounces) you are attempting to make it difficult for the payee to determine your real identity in order to resolve the matter. This is dangerously close to being classified as the kind of fraud that could land you in jail.

answered Mar 7 '12 at 12:55
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Jonny Boats
4,848 points
  • Thanks for the response, and in no way is the intent to defraud. – Kay 8 years ago
  • @Kay - If there were ever a problem then the question would be "if you had no intention to defraud, then why did you do anything to obscure your real identity?" – Jonny Boats 8 years ago

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