LegalZoom vs. Northwest Registered Agent Service: Picking the Better Online Incorporation Service

Incorporating your business is one of the best ways you have for protecting your personal assets, in case your business ventures run into some trouble. If you’re incorporated your business, you reduce the risk that disgruntled employees and customers seeking damages, or creditors seeking their loan payments, can go after your bank account and house to get back what you owe. 

Incorporating your business isn’t actually all that complicated—that is, if you simply let the pros handle it for you. And for years now, the most popular of all these professionals is LegalZoom. It’s been around for about 2 decades now, and it’s a truly professional outfit. 

It’s just that LegalZoom also charges quite a bit of money for their services, which is why a significant number of small business owners are looking for a more affordable alternative without suffering too much loss of quality incorporation service. 

Is Northwest Registered Agent Service the alternative you’re looking for? Let’s take a look at these 2 brands in this direct comparison. 

The Incorporation Packages

LegalZoom Northwest Registered Agent Service
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: $225

  • Preparing and filing incorporation documents with the state 
  • Registered agent services
  • Operating agreement
  • Resolutions to open a bank account
  • Membership certificates
Standard: $329

This includes all the Economy services, plus:

  • Create 20 company membership certificates
  • Create binder and customized company seal with your business name 
Optional Add-ons

Instead of offering other plans, Northwest simply gives you a list of extra services you can tack on your incorporation plan. These include:

  • Tax ID 
  • S Corporation Election with the IRS
  • Premium mail forwarding
  • Virtual office
  • Certificate of good standing
  • Certified copy
  • Apostille
  • 2nd telephone number
  • Corporate supplies 
  • FMCSA BOC-3 Filing (for trucking companies)
  • FCC Telecommunications 499-A registration services
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
 

 

Legalzoom’s Official Website

At first glance, you might find the LegalZoom price rather more attractive, at least with the $99 Economy package. But that’s because LegalZoom doesn’t include their registered agent services for the plan. In fact, none of the LegalZoom packages come with the registered agent services at all. 

With LegalZoom, the registered agent services are a separate matter. If you opt to obtain these services from LegalZoom, you have to shell out an extra $299 per year. That means that you’re actually paying LegalZoom $398 for incorporating the business (filing the documents with the state) and for the registered agent services. 

That makes the Northwest Registered Agent Service package plan much more sensible. You save $173. In fact, Northwest Registered Agent Service only charges $125 a year or the registered agent services. It’s a mandatory feature in their incorporation package, because it’s basically necessary if you want to do right for your business. 

With LegalZoom, you also have 2 other packages that are much more expensive. But at the same time, the features you get don’t seem to warrant such high prices. You’re paying an extra $320 for features that don’t seem all that important. Meanwhile, you still don’t get the all-important registered agent services with these packages. 

Now with Northwest Registered Agent Service, you don’t have any other package. Instead, you can customize your own package by hand-picking the add-ons you want to tack on the basic incorporation services. The optional add-ons may be a bit pricey, but you don’t get a feature you don’t really want. 

In this faceoff, Northwest Registered Agent Service offers a much more valuable package than LegalZoom. You get help creating crucial documents needed to start a business bank account, these are filed with the state, and you get the crucial registered agent service. 

You get all these for just $225, which is certainly a better price than paying $398 for a similar set of services. In addition, you can simply tack on extra features as you see fit. LegalZoom is certainly more expensive in comparison, while you don’t get more features in return. 

Incorporation Service History and Track Record

LegalZoom is one of the oldest names in the online incorporation service industry. It was established in 1999, and the fact that they have thrived all these years also contributes to their popularity. The brand has served more than 4 million customers already, and have helped establish at least 2 million corporations. They have ample experience with the job. 

Thousands of online customer reviews have also appeared in regards to the LegalZoom incorporation service. However, not everyone (and not even the majority) is pleased with the service. While there are lots of people who have praised LegalZoom for their incorporation efforts, a similar number of people have voiced a more negative opinion in their reviews. 

While most of these people admitted that LegalZoom’s incorporation service was correct, it seems like they also thought they should have received more for their money. After all, they sure paid a lot. LegalZoom’s fees are among the highest in the incorporation industry. 

But Northwest Registered Agent Service isn’t a newcomer to the industry either. It’s actually older than LegalZoom by 1 year, as it was founded back in 1998. 

They’re not unpopular, either, though they haven’t matched the LegalZoom popularity over the last 2 decades. They’ve served the needs of more than 2 million customers already, and that number keeps growing as they get at least 200 incorporation customers each day. That’s about 1,000 new customers each week. 

That’s an impressive track record for Northwest Registered Agent Service, as many of their competitors haven’t even served more than a million customers yet (mainly because they’re newer). Still, that number doesn’t quite match the 4 million customers that LegalZoom has already helped. 

Surprisingly, Northwest Registered Agent Service doesn’t seem to have too many customer reviews online. While LegalZoom has many thousands of reviews online, with Northwest Registered Agent Service we only found a few hundreds of them. But the majority of these reviews did praise Northwest Registered Agent Service, which is better than the mixed assessment for LegalZoom from their customers. 

How Easy Is It to Use the Website?

One of the advantages of using an online incorporation service is that you don’t have to go to a lawyer’s office to get things done. You only have to work through the service’s website. But this is convenient only if the website is actually easy to use. Fortunately, these 2 brands offer smartly designed websites that clearly show you what to do along the way. 

However, with LegalZoom there’s a bit of chicanery going on. It’s just that the website seems designed to obtain more money from your pockets. That’s because they start with offering the add-ons first, before you get to pick the package you want. It’s true that these add-ons come with clear explanations of how they can benefit you, but it still rankles that these offers come first before the packages. 

The prices can also surprise you in the end. LegalZoom is very expensive, especially with the add-ons. 

With Northwestern Registered Agent Service, it’s a lot simpler. You get the basic plan, and then you just tack on the options as you see fit. You get clear explanations for all the features and add-ons, plus you get a running tally of your costs as you add more options. You won’t be surprised at the cost in the end, though it can also be quite expensive. 

Still, Northwestern Registered Agent Service offers a much simpler ordering process, and you can get things done very quickly simply by getting the basic plan without add-ons. 

Customer Support

Regardless of how clearly the brands have explained matters in their websites, you will most likely have some questions along the way. Maybe you want a more detailed explanation of some service. Perhaps you need advice on which add-on to get. For these issues, you need to contact customer support. 

LegalZoom offers customer support via the phone or through email. But they may as well just offer customer support through the phone exclusively, because their email customer support is simply abysmal. 

Send them an email, and it may take a week before you get a reply. Even then, the email reply won’t likely answer your questions or give any helpful advice. It’s basically a generic message that seems automated. Perhaps the most pertinent part of the email reply is the reminder that you can call LegalZoom too, and the email even includes the phone number to call. 

You really should heed this suggestion, because the phone customer support from LegalZoom is actually terrific. You don’t wait long before you talk to a knowledgeable agent. 

This agent will answer your questions thoroughly, with lots of details. They may even obtain details of your situation so that they can better guide you on your options. They may include a few upsell offers, but that shouldn’t be surprising at this point. 

After your talk, you will then get an email with the direct contact number of that agent you talked to. If you have any follow-up questions, then you get someone who already knows the details of your particular situation. 

With Northwestern Registered Agent Service, they offer excellent customer support through both phone and email. Like LegalZoom, their phone customer support gives you complete answers. They will also get the details of your situation so they can better advise you on your next steps. 

But unlike LegalZoom, even their email replies are good. They arrive much more quickly, and they have details included in the answers you get for your questions. Most of the time, these answers are complete enough that you don’t need clarification over the phone. 

Incorporation Completion Time

Keep in mind that with the incorporation process, much depends on the state you’re filing in. Some states take longer to finish the incorporation process, mainly because the state employees probably have more filings to deal with. 

Both LegalZoom and Northwestern Registered Agent Service take a lot of time to finish the process. That’s also because these 2 brands are very popular. When you place your order, then you get to the back of the line. 

With LegalZoom, they have so many customers to help out that you may have to wait for 30 business days before everything’s done. That’s 6 weeks of waiting. 

However, you can get a more expensive package and you get the expedited filing service. You can also get this as an add-on. That cuts the wait down to 7 to 10 business days, since you get ahead of the customers who didn’t opt for the expedited service. 

With Northwestern Registered Agent Service, there’s actually no option to expedite the filing. So, you’ll have to wait a while, since they have 200 customers every day! 

 

Conclusion

There are plenty of good reasons why LegalZoom is so popular. It’s a venerable brand with a long history, and customers tend to trust popular brands in general. They offer a website that’s easy enough to use, and their customer support through the phone is terrific. You even get expedited filing service speed, if you’re willing to pay extra. 

That’s the main issue with LegalZoom, though. You end up paying a lot. Quite a few people don’t go with LegalZoom simply because they can’t afford it. A large number of customers also think that they didn’t get enough for their money. 

With Northwestern Registered Agent Service, you may also end up paying a lot. But at least you get add-ons that you actually want. You can also just get the basic package, and you receive the registered agent services for a lower price. They’re popular too, and their customer support is terrific via phone and email. 

In other words, LegalZoom is certainly good. But Northwestern Registered Agent Service seems to offer a much better value for money.

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