Articles of Incorporation
Incorporation is usually the best method of organizing. Each State has special enabling laws under which cooperatives may incorporate. It may be preferable to incorporate under the State’s general corporation enabling act, but structure bylaws to operate as a cooperative.
Incorporation gives the cooperative a distinct legal standing. Members generally are not personally liable for the debts of an incorporated organization beyond the amount of their investment. The articles indicate the nature of the cooperative business. The articles should specify rather broad operating authority when incorporating even though services may be limited at the beginning.
These articles usually contain the name of the cooperative, principal place of business, purposes and powers of the association, proposed duration of the association, names of the incorporators (in most States), and information about the capital structure. In some States, the names of the first officers of the association must be included.
Filing the articles of incorporation (usually with the Secretary of State) activates the cooperative corporation. After the organizing committee approves the articles, the attorney files for the corporation charter and includes the recording fees. Once chartered by the State, the cooperative should promptly adopt bylaws.