LegalZoom vs BizFilings : Which is the Better Online Incorporation for You?

Meta: If you’re incorporating your business, LegalZoom is an extremely popular option. But is BizFilings better? Find out in this head-to-head comparison. 

It’s always a good idea to incorporate your business. It’s a small price to pay to make sure you protect your personal assets from covering your business liabilities. 

It’s also a good idea to just have a professional outfit do the job for you. For many people these days, that outfit is LegalZoom. It’s undoubtedly the most popular brand in the industry. It’s been around a long time, and they sure know what they’re doing. 

The problem with LegalZoom is that they can be super-expensive. It’s true that you often have to pay more for quality service, but the exorbitant rates that LegalZoom charges may be problematic with lots of business owners with a limited budget. 

That issue has sparked a search for a viable alternative to LegalZoom. But is that alternative really BizFilings? This comparison will help you determine which service is best suited for your incorporation needs. 

The Incorporation Packages

Here are the various incorporation plans from both brands, with prices and features listed. 

LegalZoom BizFilings 
Economy: $99

  • Check the availability of the corporation name 
  • Prepare articles of organization
  • Create financial account authorization letter
  • File the documents with the state
  • Provide a guide on what to do after incorporating
Basic: $99

  • Check company name availability
  • Prepare and file articles of incorporation and other business documents 
  • Registered agent services for 6 months 
  • Compliance tool (BizComply) for 6 months, with alerts notifying you of deadlines for crucial documents 
Standard: $329

This includes all the Economy services, plus:

  • Create 20 company membership certificates
  • Create binder and customized company seal with your business name 
Standard: $159 to $244 ($228 for most states)

All the Basic features are included, plus: 

  • Expedited processing
  • Sample document templates
  • Business kit and seal 
Express Gold: $349

You get all the Standard services, plus:

  • Faster formation (7 to 10 business days, instead of 30 business days)
  • Express shipping for business documents
Complete: $199 to $434 ($359 for most states)

All the Standard features are here, plus: 

  • Authenticated copies of your formation documents
  • Employer Identification Number
  • UPS overnight shipping for completed formation documents
  • Informational DVD guide

LegalZoom’s Official Website

LegalZoom does offer a rather affordable Economy package, with a nice set of features. The other packages are much more expensive, with extra features that you don’t really need. For most people, the Economy package is good enough. 

But none of the packages from LegalZoom comes with the registered agent service, which is simply crucial for a starting corporation. Some states require that you get this service, and even if the state doesn’t it simply makes a lot of sense to get it. 

And you won’t get it from LegalZoom except as an add-on. It’s a rather expensive add-on from them, as it will cost you an extra $299 a year to get it. 

With BizFilings, at least the registered agent service is already part of even the most affordable package. It’s only for 6 months, though. To continue receiving this service, you’ll have to cough up an extra $164 for a year’s registered agent service. 

That makes the BizFilings Basic Package a much more attractive option than the Economy plan from LegalZoom. You pay LegalZoom $398 if you get all the services you really need. 

With BizFilings, you get more since you get the registered agent service free for 6 months. And even paying extra means that you’re paying BizFilings a total of just $263. 

BizFilings also offer the compliance tool that really helps you to keep your corporation in good standing with the state. You’re given timely alerts so you know when the deadlines for crucial documents are coming up. 

What’s really annoying with BizFilings is that the prices of their more expensive packages can vary depending on the state you’re filing with. It’s super-annoying. In addition, the extra cost isn’t really justified. The additional features and services you get aren’t really all that crucial. 

One of the add-ons that BizFilings does offer is a publication service. This is required for Nebraska and Arizona (for both LLCs and corporations), New York (for LLCs), and for Georgia and Pennsylvania (for corporations only). 

In these states, it may be a requirement for incorporation that you publish the news of the formation of your corporation in a regional newspaper in the state. LegalZoom doesn’t offer this service at all, but BizFilings can do this for you for an extra $100. 

BizFilings’s Official Website

Incorporation Service History and Track Record

One of the reasons why LegalZoom is so popular is because it’s an old name in the industry. It’s been around since 1999, so they’ve had a lot of time to build their reputation and perfect their process. They’ve been around long enough to know what they’re doing. 

Over the years, they’ve received thousands of customer reviews which you can find online. The opinions of these customers are mixed. While LegalZoom has plenty of people offering positive assessments, an equal number of reviews give a low score. It’s not really because LegalZoom did a bad job. It’s mainly because a lot of customers thought they overpaid. 

With BizFilings, you actually have a brand that’s older than LegalZoom as it started in 1996. It was eventually acquired by the Wolters Kluwer Company, which offers many different kinds of compliance and other business services all over the world. 

Over the years, they’ve served quite a few customers and have now served more than half a million of them. That’s almost 21 thousand customers each year. LegalZoom does have more customers, since they’ve already served more than 4 million customers in fewer years. 

Curiously, only a handful of reviews online on BizFilings can be found. Perhaps the customers weren’t too dissatisfied to air their complaints in public. But that also means that very few were so satisfied with what they got that most didn’t bother to praise the brand in public. 

All in all, the track record of LegalZoom here is certainly more impressive. They’ve had 4 million customers since 1999. BizFilings started earlier, and have only served more than half a million. Also, LegalZoom certainly has a lot more reviews on them, even if the assessments are decidedly mixed. 

Ease of Use

Both brands offer websites that nicely lay out the process for you to follow. These websites have clear instructions, along with helpful explanations on the various features and services. What’s different between the 2 brands is how they designed the signup process. 

With LegalZoom, it all starts with entering your personal information first. That will take a while, and then you go to pick whether you’re forming an LLC or a corporation. Giving your business details at the start can take a while, and it already invests you into the process. That is, if you stop at any time, then you’ve just wasted all that time and effort. 

What follows is a series of offers for the optional add-ons first. Yes, these offers come with clear explanations on what these services are and how they can be helpful for you. But these offers somehow come first, before you even pick which package you want from the LegalZoom incorporation plans. 

Sure, it makes more sense to let you pick the package first, and then you pick from the optional add-ons. But by offering the optional add-ons first, LegalZoom is apt to make more money off you. 

With BizFilings, the process is more straightforward. You even get to use their extremely helpful incorporation wizard. This online tool takes your needs and details into account, and then tells you whether you’re better off as a corporation or as an LLC. It then recommends the right package that will best suit your needs. 

You also get an application order number once you’ve begun the signup process. This application order number helps you out when you contact customer support, as they can then oversee your details to get a better picture of your particular situation. You won’t have to repeat these details when you contact them. The BizFilings agent can then also give you answers and recommendations based on the details of your situation. 

The BizFilings process involves 7 pages in the process, but it actually doesn’t take all that long. You’ll be offered some upsells along the way, but they’re not really obnoxious. It’s just that there are many of these offers for add-ons, and some are offers from their third-party partners. These extra offers tend to prolong the process. 

On the whole, the BizFilings signup process is a lot more tolerable. With LegalZoom, you’re even unable to get a good ideal of the total cost until the end of the process! 

Customer Support

Even with a terrific website, sooner or later you will have questions. You may need some advice on what you have to do during the incorporation process. That means contacting customer support. 

With LegalZoom, the customer support over the phone is terrific. You get to talk to a representative quickly enough, and this agent sure know what they’re talking about. If you have questions, they will answer you with lots of details. 

If you don’t know what to do next (or are confused as to what features or add-ons to get), they can lay out your options for you and help you make a choice. They will get the details of your situation so you get the options you actually need. Perhaps the only downside is that during this talk you may get a few more upsells. 

After you call them, LegalZoom will then send you an email with the direct contact number of the agent who helped you before. That way, when you have additional questions then the agent already knows of your particular situation. 

LegalZoom doesn’t offer a chat service, but it offers customer support through email. It’s just that they shouldn’t have bothered, because it’s crap. It can take a week before you get a reply, and then the reply is the sort of generic message that doesn’t answer any question at all. It does give you the phone number to call, and calling them is really what you ought to do. 

BizFilings offer customer support through the phone with extended hours. You can call them on weekdays as early as 7AM or as late as 9PM Eastern Time. The answers you get are very informative, so you don’t really waste your time. 

If you prefer to communicate via email, with BizFilings it’s a much better option compared to LegalZoom. Send them an email in the morning, and you get the reply in the afternoon. At the very latest, you’ll get this reply within 24 hours. 

The quality of the email reply will also be quite excellent. It will answer your questions completely, with details to support the answer. It’s just that the email system doesn’t really get a reply on weekends. It’s like their phone service—it’s only for weekdays. 

 

Completion Time

Since LegalZoom has lots of customers, you will wait a while when you place your order. It can take as long as 6 weeks before everything’s done, though it also depends greatly on which state you’re filing in. 

But with LegalZoom you do have the option of expediting the process (via the add-on or getting one of the more expensive packages). Instead of waiting for 30 business days, you may just wait 7 to 10 busines days. 

With BizFilings, you also get an option to expedite the process in return for $50. It’s just that you really don’t know how long things will take with the standard or expedited process. 

Conclusion

With BizFilings, you get a better deal with the Basic package. You get the compliance tool. Along with the all-important registered agent service for 6 months. It’s cheaper to renew this service with BizFilings as well. In addition, if you need the publication service then BizFilings simply make a lot more sense. 

Still, LegalZoom offers professional services with terrific customer support through the phone. They’re more expensive though. But if you want what others are going with, then LegalZoom is the popular choice you can join with. 

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