Does Your Operating Agreement Cover What Might Happen if a Member Gets Divorced, Becomes Disabled, or Dies?

Here we are, back on the journey of dissecting the components of an operating agreement, with our eighth article in the series. How marvelous it is to have you here with us, for we cherish your companionship as we navigate these crucial business considerations. Today, we delve into a slightly sensitive, yet undeniably essential, subject: how an operating agreement prepares for life-altering events such as divorce, disability, or death of a member. This might seem grim, but being well-prepared can save a lot of stress and uncertainty in such unfortunate events. We’ll examine why it’s so important for your operating agreement to address these contingencies, and how doing so can protect the members and the LLC as a whole. Let’s get into it.

Divorce and the Operating Agreement

When a member of an LLC undergoes a personal life change such as divorce, it could potentially ripple into the LLC’s operations if not properly addressed in the operating agreement. The member’s ownership interest in the company could be considered marital property, which, depending on state laws, might be split between the divorcing couple. This situation could lead to an unwanted party acquiring a stake in the LLC, which can disrupt the harmony, decision-making process, and future trajectory of the business.

That’s where the importance of a spousal waiver comes into play. A spousal waiver is a clause in the operating agreement that typically requires a spouse to agree to give up any claim to the member’s ownership interest in the LLC, in case of divorce or death. By having this foresight to include such a provision in the operating agreement, the LLC protects itself from the potential negative consequences of a member’s divorce. It maintains stability and control among the existing members, ensuring the smooth continuation of the business.

Disability, Death, and the Operating Agreement

Life can sometimes throw curveballs, including events as severe as disability or even death. In an LLC, such unfortunate events can impact the member’s ability to contribute to the company or create a situation where their ownership interest must change hands. When a member dies, their ownership often passes to their heirs or beneficiaries. It's therefore crucial that the operating agreement has provisions in place to address this potential shift in membership, ensuring the continuity and stability of the LLC. The operating agreement should thus provide clear directions on how to manage these circumstances to prevent any ensuing confusion or disputes.

A buyout provision is an effective strategy to manage such scenarios. This provision outlines the terms under which the LLC or other members may buy out the ownership interest of a member who has become disabled or deceased. These terms typically involve an agreed-upon method to calculate the buyout price, which often factors in the company’s present value and the member’s ownership stake. Furthermore, the LLC might also purchase life or disability insurance policies on its members. The payout from these policies can then be used to fund the buyout, ensuring a smooth transition during these challenging times, while protecting the company’s financial stability.


We hope this article has been informative and useful for your business. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at We plan to answer general questions in an upcoming FAQ series. If you need legal advice specific to your situation, please ask to schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your company’s goals.

As we continue to delve deeper into the intricacies of LLC operating agreements, we invite you to join us in the next discussion, which focuses on the terms of member contributions and capital withdrawals. Stay with us as we shed light on the crucial aspects of capital management in an LLC and how your operating agreement can help streamline these processes.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as tax or legal advice. Please consult professionals for advice tailored to your specific situation. The author and publisher assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions or for any actions taken based on the information presented.