What is Limited Liability?
The best way to explain limited liability is this - you risk what you put in. In other words, limited liability is a way to make sure that a person who is engaging in business does not risk his or her personal possessions in case the business fails. Any investor, partner, or member of the company that by law has limited liability cannot be made responsible for any unfulfilled company obligations and debts that are more than the amount that the person has invested.
Jack and Jill
Here is a simple comparison. Jack and Jill are friends. Jack is a handy guy and Jill is a great cook. To earn money from their talents, both start their own business. Jack earns his living by doing renovations. He bought his own equipment and simply advertises his services under his own name. Jack is a sole proprietor.
Jill decided to open a bakeshop. Before going into business, however, Jill has formed a small corporation (an S-Corporation), called Jill's Cakes, Inc. Jill invested her savings into Jill's Cakes, Inc. as a starting capital and then bought her baking equipment and leased her shop on behalf of her corporation. So long as things go well for Jack and Jill there are almost no differences between the two ways of doing business.
As soon as things turn sour though, the differences become apparent. One day, Jack mopped the floor right before leaving the apartment he just painted, but forgot to put up a sign. The owner walked in, slid on the wet floor and broke an ankle. He is suing Jack for medical expenses and lost wages. Jill accidentally dropped a peanut in a wrong batch of batter and caused a severe allergy attack in one of her customer. That customer is suing her for medical bills and pain and suffering.
What is at risk for Jack and Jill? Jack is risking everything he owns - his work equipment, his truck, his house, his personal belongings. So long as there is a judgment against him, Jack must sell anything he owns to pay it. Jill is risking only her business assets - her cooking equipment, her cash reserves, and anything else owned by Jill's Cakes, Inc. But her personal things, such as her car and her apartment, are safe. Her business may become bankrupt, but her life will not be (completely) destroyed.
Of course, this story describes a worst case scenario. Many businesses prosper without many troubles. But many also fail, and it is so easy for a business owner to take advantage of limited liability that everyone should do it.
MyUSACorporation is your reliable partner since 2009.