By guest blogger Jerry Chiang

The following list will help you preserve your liability shield and protect yourself from the liabilities of your corporation or limited liability company (“LLC”). This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather an illustrative list of activities that will either preserve one’s liability shield or undermine it.

Do’s:

• Properly capitalize the corporation/LLC, or in the alternative, obtain sufficient insurance to cover potential liabilities.

• Keep personal and business entity funds separate by creating a bank account for business entity funds and transactions.

• Hold oneself out as an officer or employee of the corporation/LLC.

• In transacting with third parties, make it clear that they are transacting with a corporation or LLC and not an individual.

• As a corporation, observe all formalities listed in your state’s corporation statute and the corporation’s bylaws. To learn more about Washington corporate formalities, visit the Washington Business Corporation Act

• As an LLC, observe all formalities listed in your state’s LLC statute and the LLC’s operating agreement. To learn more about Washington LLC formalities, visit the Washington Limited Liability Company Act.

Don’ts:

• Avoid paying excessive dividends or distributions.

• Avoid below-market sale of assets to a shareholder, member or a third party.

• Avoid using business entity assets for personal purposes and vice versa.