Welcome to our weekly Business Basics post! This week we decided to explore a service that nearly every Corporation and LLC uses – registered agents. If you are thinking about forming an LLC or incorporating your business, you will need to find a registered agent. But what exactly do they do again?
What is a registered agent?
A registered agent is the person, or in some cases the company, that a business designates to receive service of process if there is a summons or a lawsuit. Since incorporating or forming an LLC helps to separate your personal and professional lives, and provides fiscal and legal liability protections, the state cannot simply serve you with legal paperwork. LLCs and corporations are, after all, their own, separate legal entity. So a registered agent acts as the impartial receiver of those legal notices. States will also sometimes send renewal reminders and notices to your registered agent, helping you to stay on top of what you need to file to stay compliant with state regulations.
Do I need one?
Nearly every, single state requires that LLCs and corporations doing business within its borders designate a registered agent, so yes it is very likely that, legally, you must have a registered agent. But, beyond the legal considerations, having a registered agent also helps you to maintain a bit of privacy. Having legal paperwork delivered directly to your place of business can wind up raising some eyebrows. There are considerations to be made for office-morale as well – after all, if you are working for a corporation that keeps getting notices and letters from attorneys, you might not have much confidence in the company. A registered agent helps create a sphere of privacy, so that you and your attorney can handle any pressing legal matters without causing a panic.
Can I act as my own?
It all depends on where you do business. As we mentioned above, having a registered agent that is separate from your business will provide a bit more privacy. However, some states do allow members of LLCs, or directors of corporations, to act as the business’s registered agent. Minnesota, as an example, does not require any business formed in the state to name a registered agent, though the company does have to list an address where a person who represents the company can be found. However, all fifty states have registered agents offering their services so, if you do want to name one, you are always able to.
Where can I find one?
Most states actively maintain a list of registered agents who are allowed to provide such a service within their borders. Just look up your state’s secretary of state or department of corporations – chances are that there is a list of active registered agents somewhere on the site. MyCorp is also happy to provide you with our own registered agent services, and we are able to do so in all fifty states!
Having a registered agent is extremely useful, and even if the state you do business in does not require you to have one, it is still a good idea to contract somebody as your registered agent, just to help maintain a bit of privacy. Just make sure that whoever you do hire stays in contact with you, as any and all important paperwork from the state will likely come to them first. The last thing you want is to miss a deadline because your registered agent never got around to calling you!