Registered agents are required by law for the majority of business entities and are recommended for all new business owners that want to avoid common entrepreneur mistakes. 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. If you are contemplating your next business structure, read on for important considerations for finding a registered agent.
Responsibilities Of A Registered Agent
Whether an individual or a business, registered agents have a defined role to help you maintain compliance with governmental rules and regulations. Your registered agent receives all official correspondence on behalf of your business and is responsible for notifying you about them. Entrepreneurs can think of a registered agent as a gatekeeper for all legal notices. Highly sensitive tax forms, legal documents, official letters from government agencies and lawsuit notices all filter through the registered agent before reaching your desk. Additionally, professional registered agents will file updates with the state when you move or add an office location as well as change your contact information. These are just a few of the many responsibilities of statutory agents.
Requirements For Being A Registered Agent
No matter which term is used to identify a registered agent in your state, requirements across the U.S. are relatively consistent. Entrepreneurs should note that there are no special certifications or licenses required to be a registered agent. States only mandate that registered agents maintain a physical residence or office space in the state where you registered your business. Additionally, they must be legal residents of the state and be available during normal business hours to accept legal notices like those mentioned above. Very simply, this means that entrepreneurs meeting this criteria can designate themselves as registered agents for their businesses as the official point of contact.
What Services Your Registered Agent Should Provide
Aside from meeting state-mandated requirements, you will find registered agents who vary in the level of services they provide. Entrepreneurs should consider document processing turn around time, communication strategy, access to professional services and even their ability to build relationships. Of course, these will affect the cost for registered agent services. However, entrepreneurs should evaluate the value that a registered agent provides. For instance, take the urgency that legal documents command. You need a registered agent who processes the documents quickly, communicates effectively and provides access to attorneys or CPAs to answer questions. Reading reviews about registered agents’ services will help entrepreneurs decide on the perfect fit for their business.
Hire A Registered Agent Or Do It Yourself?
The responsibilities and requirements for being a registered agent are not complex. It may be tempting for a young business person to save a few dollars and DIY. After all, you can designate yourself, a staff member or someone from your family to act as a registered agent for business. What is important to remember is that a registered agent is the official point of contact for your business. He or she must be available Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm to accept notices from the state. Regardless of who you designate, you, the entrepreneur, will be held legally responsible for the information if that person is unavailable. Hiring a reputable registered agent eliminates this possibility and allows you to focus on the business.
Find A Registered Agent In Multiple States
As your business expands, you will need to find registered agents in-state where the business has a nexus. This way, any legal or tax documents can be served within the state where your company does business. Of course, expanding to multiple states will require you to have a registered agent with multiple locations. Or, you can work with one agent from each state. With the proper setup in multiple state, your business will have a lower risk of missing important documents, incurring fines or compromising a “good standing” status within the state. Keep your multi-state locations in mind when looking for a registered agent service.
Whether hiring a professional or taking the DIY approach, entrepreneurs will discover that finding a registered agent is not a difficult process. However, it is important to understand the responsibilities and requirements for registered agents before deciding which approach to take. Firms providing these services can be brick and mortar local businesses or national corporations. Additionally, many registered agents have an online presence only. The DIY approach is within reach but does have some pitfalls that entrepreneurs should consider carefully. More so, you may need a registered agent for multiple states while expanding your business across borders. Consider these factors while finding a registered agent for your business.