Writing your corporate bylaws

Your corporation's bylaws provide the basic operating instructions for how you will do business. Writing clear and concise bylaws helps your corporation operate smoothly.

by Brette Sember, J.D.
updated May 11, 2023 ·  2min read

One of the most important steps in forming a corporation is creating your corporate bylaws. Think of them as your corporation's constitution.

Corporate bylaws are usually written after you've filed your articles of incorporation. Most states require you to create bylaws, but even if your state does not, it is good business practice to have them so that you can create structure and procedures to follow.

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Items in corporate bylaws

Your corporate bylaws can be as brief or as expansive as you wish. Following are the items normally included:

  • The corporate purpose
  • Basic details about the corporation, such as address and location of the headquarters
  • The procedure for amending corporate bylaws and articles of incorporation
  • The names of the officers and directors of the corporation, as well as the number of board members
  • How officers and directors are selected and, if necessary, removed
  • A requirement that the directors disclose any conflicts of interest they may have
  • Indemnification of directors and officers from liability for the corporation
  • The procedure for keeping your corporate records
  • The procedure for resolving internal disputes, such as those between a board member and an executive
  • Dates and procedures for the annual meeting
  • Your company's requirements for a quorum for voting purposes
  • The rules for voting proxies
  • How your corporation issues stock, as well as the classes of stock and number of each class
  • The responsibilities that each officer is required to handle

Making corporate bylaws official

Once your bylaws have been written, they must be voted on by the corporation's board. Upon approval, the bylaws become official and binding on your corporation. If your state requires bylaws, you must then file them with the state Secretary of State's office, or the agency in your state that manages corporations. Make sure each board member and officer receives the bylaws so they can become familiar with them.

Using your bylaws

It's important to remember that your bylaws contain the guidelines your corporation must follow as it operates. If there is ever a question about a process or procedure, check your bylaws for the answer. You may also need to disclose your bylaws to potential creditors or investors, as well as banks and insurers.

Amending your bylaws

If at some point you find that you need to amend your corporation's bylaws, check the bylaws for the procedure to do so. Most bylaws with amendment procedures require calling a meeting of the board of directors and holding a vote on the amendment. The bylaws should state how many votes are needed, but a majority is generally the rule. If the amendment passes, you must then change the bylaws to reflect the new information and, if required by your state, file the amended bylaws with the appropriate state agency.

Your corporation's bylaws are the roadmap for how your corporation does business. Making sure they are written clearly and thoroughly can help your corporation avoid any bumps in the road.

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Brette Sember, J.D.

About the Author

Brette Sember, J.D.

Brette Sember, J.D., practiced law in New York, including divorce, mediation, family law, adoption, probate and estates,… Read more

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.