Maine Sole Proprietorships

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Persons conducting a social enterprise alone in Maine without the protections afforded by incorporation are called sole proprietors.  A sole proprietorship has no legal existence apart from its owner and may be formed without any expense or formality.  Profits and losses are borne directly by the proprietor.  The proprietor may operate under a trade name that is registered with the Maine Secretary of State Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions at http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/corp/trademarks.html. Such registration provides limited protection for exclusive use of the name, absent trademark or service mark registrations.

The main disadvantage of forming a sole proprietorship is that the owner is wholly liable for all debts and obligations of the enterprise.  All of the personal assets and assets devoted to the social enterprise can be seized to make payments.  A sole proprietorship itself cannot be sold since there is complete unity between the enterprise and its owner, but the assets used in the enterprise can be sold.  A sole proprietorship terminates upon the death of its owner.

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