- Can you or your employees serve as your own registered agent?
- Should you hire a professional registered agent?
- The best solution to finding a registered agent
Q: How do I find a registered agent?
A: The most reliable, cost-effective way to find a registered agent is to hire one from an established registered agent service provider. While there are numerous professional registered agents on the market, vetting them all can eat up your valuable time. This article explains the best way to find a registered agent for your business.
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Finding a registered agent is one of the most basic, and most important parts of running a business.
Whether you’re just launching or switching a sole proprietorship to LLC, you’ll need to designate a registered agent.
With so many choices on the market, it can be overwhelming to reach a decision.
This article will guide you through finding a registered agent so you can focus on growing your business.
- Can you serve as your own registered agent?
- Should you hire a registered professional agent?
- Are independent registered agents worth exploring?
- The best registered agent services on the market
Can You Serve as Your Own Registered Agent?
In almost all cases, you can legally serve as your own registered agent for your LLC.
The legal requirements for serving as a registered agent mean that the majority of business owners are legally allowed to assign themselves registered agent duties when forming their LLC.
There are a few conditions, though.
For starters, all registered agents must provide an address within the state the LLC is registered in. There’s a good reason for this.
Registered agents serve as the primary point of contact between your business and the government.
Since the majority of business operations are overseen on the state level, this means the state government will primarily interact with your business.
These interactions are often time-sensitive. That’s why your registered agent needs to be in the same state as your LLC.
If the state needs to send you an important document, they need to deliver it quickly so they are cleared of liability on their end.
For most business owners, this isn’t an issue. Since registering your business within the state means you have to have an address there anyway, you can simply list your business’s address for your registered agent address.
In addition to having an address in the state, you’ll also need to have someone available at that address during your business’s listed operating hours.
If the state delivers a summons or a pressing document in person, you must have someone there to receive the document.
This is where things become a bit trickier. Ideally, you’d be there yourself.
That said, some states allow a substitute to be there instead, meaning another employee or staff member could fill this requirement while still allowing you to list yourself as the registered agent.
You’ll want to check your specific state laws though. Each state has its own legislation around this, meaning the requirements in Florida might not be the same as the requirements in Texas.
Finally, you’ll need to be over the age of 18. Minors are legally prohibited from serving as registered agents in all states.
Can An Employee Serve as Your Registered Agent?
An alternative many business owners consider is assigning an employee to serve as their registered agent.
This too can be a legitimate option. The same general restrictions apply though.
The employee you assign will need to have an address in the state. That means they’ll have to live in the state your LLC is registered in or use your business’s address.
It’s important to note that some states may not allow your employee to use the business address if they aren’t the one renting it and don’t own it.
Your employee will also need to be present at the address you provide during business hours.
Again, some states may allow substitution. The registered agent requirements will differ in Delaware and in Maryland. Check your specific state’s legislature to be sure.
And again, your employee will have to be over the age of 18 if they are to serve as your registered agent.
Can Someone Who Isn’t Associated with Your Business Serve as Your Registered Agent?
Almost anyone can serve as your business’s registered agent.
If someone is over the age of 18, has an address in the state of your LLC, and can be at that address during business operating hours, they can usually serve as your registered agent.
Many business owners consider using friends or family to serve as their registered agents.
This is particularly true for remote business owners with LLCs in states they don’t live in.
Having a friend or family member who lives in the same state as your LLC serve as your registered agent seems like a great idea on the surface.
But there are several good reasons you should consider hiring a professional before you designate your registered agent.
Why You Should Hire a Professional
Your registered agent is more than just a legal requirement to be fulfilled.
Registered agents act as the channel between your business and the government.
They are directly responsible for making sure your business receives the documents it needs to stay legally sound and comply with regulations.
Handling this important duty off to a friend or family member can be a grievous mistake.
If your registered agent doesn’t take their duties seriously, important documents and notices will fall through the cracks.
This means your business will miss legal deadlines, ultimately jeopardizing your legal protection and potentially accruing serious fines.
Additionally, it can strain your personal relationship with that person. If you’re asking a friend or family member to handle your registered agent duties, you probably aren’t paying them.
If you have to consistently harangue them to keep you updated, there’s a strong chance you’ll both become resentful.
What about you or your employees?
Compared to designating a personal contact as your registered agent, assigning someone within the company has a few benefits.
For starters, your relationship with that person isn’t at risk. If it’s you, there’s no reason to worry, and if it’s an employee, it’s much more appropriate to ask them to handle the duties you’ve assigned.
That said this solution is far from perfect.
Handling registered agent duties takes time and energy. It requires strong organizational skills and dedicated attentiveness to incoming mail.
If you or your employees take on these responsibilities, it will inevitably leave less time for other important work.
And with small businesses struggling to fill roles, you need to make the most of everyone’s time.
Additionally, your registered agent won’t have the skills or knowledge of a professional, leaving you vulnerable to error.
These errors can result in fines or a lapse in protection for your personal assets.
That’s why it’s almost always better to hire a professional.
What Legal Criteria Must a Professional Registered Agent Meet?
Finding a professional registered agent for LLCs shares a lot of legal similarities with finding a nonprofessional.
Your registered agent needs to be above the age of 18, have an address in the state your LLC is registered in, and be available at that address during business hours.
There are also state-specific regulations that vary between states.
One of the biggest benefits of using a professional registered agent is that you won’t have to worry about these legal criteria.
If a professional registered agent is offering their services, they’ll already be familiar with the state regulations and will have made sure they are compliant.
This alleviates some of the stress of finding a registered agent.
That said, you still need to do your research and be deliberate when choosing a professional registered agent. There are a number of important soft skills you should look for.
What Skills Should Your Registered Agent Have?
A good registered agent needs to be well-organized.
The government correspondences your registered agent receives are time-sensitive. They need to be quick in getting to them so your business stays compliant and safe.
If a registered agent doesn’t have a system for keeping incoming mail in order, there’s a strong risk that they’ll miss a notice.
If this happens, your business pays the price for its mistake.
Additionally, your registered agent needs to have strong time management skills and communication skills.
Much of the response to government documents will require information from you.
Your registered agent needs to be clear about what they need and when without unnecessarily interrupting your work.
It’s important to be careful when searching for a professional registered agent. Just because they make money serving as a registered agent doesn’t mean they provide a quality service.
Are Independent Registered Agents Worth Considering?
Thanks to the rise of digital marketing and remote entrepreneurship, there are now more options on the market than ever.
Registered agent services are no exception. Independent registered agents have been empowered to bring their services to businesses.
Many of these independent registered agents are highly skilled and professional.
They have experience in the industry, are organized and reliable, and would no doubt serve your business exceptionally well.
Unfortunately, that isn’t true of everyone.
Some people have used the low barrier to entry to sell their registered agent services without the skills or experience needed to do them properly.
If you hire one of these subpar registered agents, you risk facing late fees, fines, and potential lapses in protection from your LLC.
Taking the time to research your potential registered agent is vital to avoiding these harmful problems.
The Best Way to Find an Independent Registered Agent
When finding a registered agent who’s independent, the key is looking for reviews.
Reviews can help you establish a few important facts.
For starters, reviews will tell you how well the registered agent performed for other businesses.
If the registered agent has a long list of satisfied customers claiming the agent was timely and communicative, that’s a strong indicator that they will serve your business well.
A long list of reviews also indicates that the registered agent has experience.
While a brand-new registered agent may provide fantastic service, there’s no reason to take the risk with so many other options on the market.
Aside from reviews, you might also want to explore the registered agent’s history serving businesses in your industry.
While this isn’t required, it may prove helpful if your registered agent has a bit of prior knowledge about the specific regulations in your industry.
If they already know what to expect and what forms you’ll be required to fill out, they may be able to guide you through the process.
This can end up saving you both time and stress when dealing with the government, which can in turn help you get more done in your business.
Finally, you might want to look into the registered agent’s existing client load.
While a registered agent may be willing to take on their 15th business, that doesn’t mean they have the resources to do it well.
You don’t need to be the registered agent’s sole client, but you also don’t want to be one of too many.
Most of this information will be readily available online, but you can also reach out directly to the registered agent and ask.
The Costs of Using Independent Registered Agents
Going with an independent registered agent is inherently risky.
Without a large team or an overseer, there’s no guarantee that the agent will have a reliable process in place. They may be flying by the seat of their pants, handling their work as it comes in.
While your research can help you avoid unorganized registered agents, it’s not foolproof.
Even if an independent registered agent has great reviews, it’s always possible they’ve simply gotten lucky so far.
There’s also the issue of fully assessing the independent agent’s workload. While you can ask how many businesses are available, they could always provide a smaller number in the hopes of winning your business.
This is certainly not the norm, but they are risks your business takes on when hiring a registered agent that isn’t part of a larger organization.
Is Finding a Registered Agent Using Big Networks Better?
Finding a registered agent service from a big network of providers can be uniquely beneficial for your business.
Big networks benefit from more collective experience. All of the agents in the business can help one another, meaning you benefit from more insight and knowledge than any single registered agent has alone.
Big network providers also tend to have stronger internal systems and regulations. They create structured procedures around their work.
This means you don’t have to worry as much about your registered agent staying organized, getting information to you in a timely manner, or taking on too many clients.
These variables are all accounted for by the provider, meaning your agent will serve your business in the most efficient and effective way possible.
You also benefit by not having to spend time and energy researching independent agents.
Because there are fewer large registered agent providers, your research time is substantially shortened.
You can instead use that time to finish registering your business, develop your marketing strategy, and ultimately grow your income.
The Best Registered Agent Services
When finding a registered agent, your main focus should be on experience and professionalism.
Both Anderson and Inc Authority have extensive experience serving businesses in every industry.
This experience ensures they know exactly what your business needs to remain legally compliant.
They leverage this knowledge to help you keep your business on track efficiently and without stress.
Additionally, both these businesses offer registered agent services throughout the country.
With Anderson and Inc Authority, all you have to do is provide your business information.
They ensure your business is matched with a professional, reliable registered agent so you can focus on growing.
*Alliance Virtual Offices is an affiliate partner of Anderson and Inc Authority and may receive payment if you make a purchase using the links in this article.
Wrapping Up: Finding a Registered Agent
Finding a registered agent in the modern market can be overwhelming.
With the business formation of all sorts at all-time highs, there are more choices than ever for your registered agent.
While it may be tempting to just list yourself, an employee, or another non-professional as your registered agent, this is almost always a bad idea.
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While independent registered agents can provide great service, finding a reputable one can be tedious.
Their extensive networks and skilled and knowledgeable agents keep your business compliant without the burden of handling registered agent duties yourself.