One of the primary reasons business owners set up corporations and limited liability companies (LLC) is to shield their personal assets from debts and other liabilities incurred by the business.
Indeed, corporations and LLCs exist as separate legal entities from their owners, meaning the business itself can acquire assets, enter into contracts, and take on debt. In turn, if a corporate entity is unable to pay its debts, creditors are typically only allowed to go after the company’s assets, not the owners’ personal assets.
However, there are several circumstances in which business owners can be held personally liable for corporate or LLC debts. Sometimes business owners simply make innocent mistakes when running a business that leave them personally liable.
Other times, business owners take deliberate actions that expose them to personal liability, such as using the corporation to promote fraud, failing to observe corporate formalities, or even commingling corporate and personal assets. In any of these circumstances, a court can hold the owners personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the corporate entity. Lawyer types refer to this as “piercing the corporate veil.” Read more