Finding a registered agent is required by law for the majority of business entities and recommended for all. Entrepreneurs looking for a registered agent will be met with many options. Depending on your state, a registered agent may also be referred to as a resident agent or statutory agent. Regardless of the terminology, this person or business has a specific set of required responsibilities and is considered the official point of contact. Generally, these responsibilities include being open to receive mail with a signature during regular operating business hours. If you are an entrepreneur contemplating your next organizational structure type, read on for important considerations for finding a registered agent.
Whether an individual or a business, registered agents have a defined set of responsibilities. In general, their role is to help you maintain compliance with governmental rules and regulations. Entrepreneurs can think of a registered agent as a gatekeeper for all legal notices. As such, they receive tax forms, legal documents, official letters from government agencies and lawsuit notices. This means that all of these potentially intimidating official pieces of correspondence filter through the resident agent before reaching your desk. Additionally, professional registered agents will file updates with the state when you move or add an office location, or change your contact information. When searching for a registered agent, it is important to be familiar with their responsibilities.
The physical requirements across the U.S. for being a registered agent are relatively consistent. States only mandate that they maintain a residence or office space in the same state where the business is located. This means that a statutory agent cannot provide a post office box address for an official address. Furthermore, if you decide to take the DIY approach, your home address will be a matter of public record for all marketers to see. Additionally, the business’s official point of contact must be a legal resident of the state. As you begin your pursuit, rest assured that you will be able to find multiple options that meet these physical requirements.
There are logistical considerations to contemplate as you decide on a registered agent. First, the person you designate must be available during normal business hours to accept legal notices. Remember, these documents are delivered to the business address on record. This means that if you do it yourself, these can be served at your place of business in front of employees and customers. Next, moving your business intrastate requires filing forms with the state. Finally, planning an office move for your growing business to other states requires a registered agent in each of those states. If your resident agent fails file in a timely manner, you can incur fines and penalties, and risk losing “good standing” status with your state. Keep these logistical considerations in mind as you choose your registered agent.
Once you have narrowed your search, consider the added services that registered agents provide. For example, some guarantee fast document process time. This means you will be notified about legal documents in a more timely manner. For instance, take the urgency that legal documents command. You may need a registered agent who processes the documents quickly. In addition, other statutory agents have a detailed a communication strategy that can help you with your business. Furthermore, the larger agencies have access to professional services like lawyers and CPAs. This can be helpful if you do not regularly retain services from attorneys or accountants who can provide self employment tax guidance. Of course, these will affect the price you pay. But entrepreneurs should evaluate the added services along with the overall value that a registered agent provides.
Be Your Own Registered Agent
It may be tempting to be your own registered agent since the responsibilities and requirements are not overly complex. Plus, you can designate yourself, a staff member or someone from your family to act as the registered agent for the business. Of course, business executives can save money with the DIY approach. However, keep in mind that the official point of contact must be available Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm to accept notices from the state. If you take time off, this could become an issue. Regardless of who you designate, business owners are legally responsible for the information if that person is unavailable. Ultimately, you can be your own registered agent as long as you comply with the responsibilities and requirements.
Entrepreneurs will discover that finding a registered agent is not a difficult process. Your business’s official point of contact does not need special certifications or licenses. However, it is important to understand the responsibilities and requirements before deciding on a statutory agent. The larger firms typically offer added services that can benefit small business owners like lawyers and accountants. If you decide on to be your own registered agent, it is important to comply with all of the requirements. Keep these considerations for finding a registered agent in mind if you are opening, expanding or moving your business.