If you have made the decision to switch your company to a corporation, you will need to file Articles of Incorporation with the state agency where you are planning to headquarter your corporation, or in lieu of a state agency, whatever regulatory agency in your area that looks after corporations. Your articles of incorporation are essentially an official announcement to the rest of the world that your company is now a corporation and has limited liability. While the requirement governing the articles of incorporation varies from state to state and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, most of them require the same information to be disclosed.
First off, you have to name your corporation. In most cases, you will have to pick a corporate name that is completely unique in the United States, but some jurisdictions allow you to use similar names, as long as it is unique in that particular area. You will also have to include some kind of sign that your company is in fact a corporation by including the word corporation or incorporated in your official name so there is never any confusion. There is also a degree of regulation on the name you pick so that it doesn’t insinuate that your company does something it doesn’t or is affiliated with someone it isn’t.
The next part of the articles of incorporation usually talks about the people involved in the company in question. You will be asked to identify the owner, the president, the CEO, CFO and the members of the board of directors. In most cases, you don’t need anything very specific here, simply names and titles.
You will also need to specify if your company plans on going public and offering stock or if you will be a privately held company without stock.
There will also be a section where you will be asked if your corporation is only in existence for a period of time or for perpetuity. The way the laws governing corporations work in the United States is that your corporation exists as long as you continue to renew the necessary paperwork each year.
In some areas, a corporation is required to issue a statement of purpose, or a short paragraph explaining why it is being formed. Often times, a general, template paragraph is issued here unless you are forming a non-profit with a specific goal other than making money.
If you are forming a non profit, you will have to state that you are and exact wording must be used for you to qualify as tax exempt in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service.
If you have decided to file as a stock corporation, you will need to issue details on your stock, how much of it you are making available to the general public and for how much.
Finally, you will have to include the address and information on your corporate headquarters and who the official director is. The articles of corporation are an essential part business life in the 21st century.