If you’re looking to get yourself a registered agent, you’re most like starting a new small business. That’s because securing the services of a registered agent is one of the requirements of establishing a corporation, LLC, or nonprofit corporation.
What’s a Registered Agent?
Basically, a registered agent is someone that works for a business, acting as the contact person between the business and other entities. These entities include the state government or even other legal entities that mat file suit against your own business. Your business is legally obliged to be always available when you need to be notified.
A registered agent generally has to meet certain requirements:
- They have to be an adult (meaning at least 18 years old).
- They have to have a physical street address within the state your business has filed to do business in.
- The registered agent has to be physically present to receive the state and court notifications in that physical address.
The registered agent service can fulfill all these requirements, and notify you of any notices they receive on your behalf. Some services may even remind you of approaching deadlines you need to meet for compliance, and may also offer advice regarding what to do with certain notices.
It becomes a lot more complicated if your corporation does business in several states. That means you need to have one registered agent for each state. But a registered agent service can provide a registered agent for each state, and that single service can keep track of all those registered agents for you.
Benefits of Hiring a Registered Agent
It’s true that you may simply meet the registered agent requirement by appointing yourself as the registered agent for your corporation. Or, you can just hire a trusted family member or friend to act as your registered agent.
But this may not be the ideal solution to the problem. Instead, hiring a professional registered agent will make more sense, because of the following benefits:
1. You Minimize Your Work Burden
This is perhaps one of the most obvious benefits of having a professional registered agent. They do the job properly, freeing you to your tasks as a small business owner. You have more important things to do than to just sit in an office waiting for notices and keeping track of compliance requirements.
Sure, your trusted family member can act in your stead. But you won’t be sure they’re doing the job as well as a professional registered agent can.
2. You have a Convenient Physical Address
It’s not always possible to have a street address in the state you’re doing business with, especially if you’re a web-based business. Renting an office in each state simply to receive notices is out of the question, as it’s just too costly.
You can’t use a P.O. Box either, as this is not really a physical address at all.
But with a professional registered agent, you get that physical address to go with the service.
3. You Have Your Privacy
Lots of small business owners are uneasy about having their home address listed as their business address. it then becomes a matter of public record, and anyone can then find out where they live. It goes against the very principle of separating home from business.
With a registered agent service, their physical address becomes your business address. That way, irate customers or insane competitors can’t come to your home to harass you.
4. You’re Free to Move Around during Business Hours
A registered agent has to be physically present in that physical address to receive the notices sent to your corporation. That may become a problem if you have to leave the premises for whatever reason.
But if you have a registered agent working for you, you’re free to go wherever you need to be to help with your business. You’re not stuck at home or in the office when you need to be elsewhere.
Consequences of Not Having a Registered Agent
The most obvious drawback to not having a registered agent is that you’re unable to establish your corporation to begin with. After all, having a registered agent is a legal requirement in many states.
1. The State Can’t Contact You
Without a registered agent, your business may fail to receive notices from the state government concerning your business. That means your business may fail to pay certain new fees, submit required documents, or do other things that the state government may require.
Such failures may keep your business from staying in good standing with the state in which your business is registered. You may then end up paying fines and be subjected to various penalties. Your business may be prevented from filing lawsuits or enter into contracts.
2. You Don’t Get Legal Notices
Your business may also fail to receive notices of lawsuits against your corporation. Since you don’t know anything about these lawsuits, you may not be able to respond to them appropriately. You may even fail to show up at the court proceedings, and as a result, the court may automatically issue a judgment against your corporation.
How Much Does Hiring a Registered Agent Cost?
That depends on the registered agent service you plan to use. Some of the best-registered agent services cost a little over $100 per year. The most expensive ones may cost even a bit more than $300.
These prices may seem costly for a small business with limited resources. But actually, they’re not all that expensive at all. Look at it this way—you’re actually paying less than a dollar a day for services you absolutely need. That’s probably less than what you spend on coffee!
You probably realized that starting your own business via a corporation or an LLC is a sensible step, because this act separates your private wealth from your business resources. Basically, you prevent people from going after your home and private bank account in case your business gets into deep trouble.
But to establish your own business, you need a registered agent. It’s the law in many states. Even if it’s not a legal requirement, it ought to be because it makes too much sense to get yourself a registered agent. It doesn’t cost much, but it will cost you a lot to do without a professional registered agent.
Let the professional registered agent do their job, and start doing your own job in the meantime. You have more things to worry about to make sure your business thrives, without adding the job of a registered agent to your burden!