If you run a small business, you probably want to focus your limited resources on sustainability and growth.
One of the many ways to do that is to hire a registered agent who will facilitate any legal matters that may arise. If you have decided to register your small business with the state as either an LLC, partnership, or corporation then you will need to designate or hire a registered agent. A registered agent’s job is to represent your business and accept crucial service of process and mail, such as court paperwork, taxes, state and federal matters.
Although there are various ways to solidify your small business’s identity and security, a registered agent should be of high priority on your list.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent can be an individual or a company.
Their job is to accept your business’ most important mail. They will receive your taxes and be the face to accept a lawsuit, in case you are ever served. All fifty of the United States require you to have a registered agent if you have registered your business as a legal entity. If you are registered in more than one state you will need a registered agent in every single one.
A registered agent will help you manage a potential crisis and allow you to do more with your time.
Who Can Be a Registered Agent?
As a small business owner, you want to keep your business afloat and try to save money on any recurring costs, and a registered agent is a valuable key player that can help your business thrive.
You may wonder if you can be your own registered agent or entrust an employee as your business’ registered agent and possibly save money? The short answer is that you can definitely be your own registered agent or delegate the role to one of your employees. However, there are a few requirements that could procure difficulties for your business if you choose this route. A lawsuit is not a moment you can predict so it is best to have one specific person dedicated to the job and ensure that you can act on it immediately. An LLC registered agent will make sure that they are one hundred percent available at any moment.
Your decision to hire a professional, take the role to yourself, or appoint one of your employees as a registered agent will dictate your companies success.
The Responsibilities of a Registered Agent
As a registered agent you must be able to fulfill these responsibilities:
- Provide a physical address in the state you are registered.
- Accept Service of Process.
- Correspondence from the secretary of state.
- Notice of lawsuits.
Although most of the responsibilities of a registered agent are the same throughout all states, the rules and qualifications may vary from state to state.
What Are the Requirements to Be a Registered Agent?
Now that you know you can be your own registered agent, it is critical to know all of the requirements which may implore you to hire a professional.
Below are the detailed requirements on how to become a registered agent:
There are certain laws that are unique to each state so it is important that you become knowledgeable of them in each state that you conduct business. A registered agent is required, by law, to be available during regular business hours in most states (8 AM until 5 PM). They are expected to provide a physical address that he/she may be reached during these hours (A P.O. box will not suffice). This may impede you from being your own registered agent. For example, if you are being served and you are not at the address you have provided to the state they may proceed with a hearing that does not include you if they are not able to locate you. This could mean money lost for your business due to being your own registered agent that could have been avoided if you had a designated registered agent.
In addition, if your business operates in a few states it is necessary for you to employ a registered agent in each because different states have unique requirements. In the state of Virginia, you must be an attorney or part of the corporation’s management in order to serve as the registered agent. In Colorado, the registered agent must be at least 18 years of age.
It seems as though being a registered agent is fairly simple, but the hours of availability for each state may be the biggest reason to hire a professional and not risk your companies right to present a defense in the case of a lawsuit.
Where Can You Find a Registered Agent?
A quick search online will get you pointed in the direction of various registered agents.
The best way to find an appropriate candidate for your business is to call your secretary of states office and ask for a recommendation. There are also several large companies that specialize in providing the services you need from a registered agent. Here are four of the most established and well-known companies today:
- CT Corporation
- Corporation Service Company
- InCorp Services, Inc.
- National Registered Agents
It is imperative that you have a good relationship with your registered agent and even more so that they have good relationships with the Secretary of State’s office as this will guarantee speedy results. Finding a registered agent should be a process that you take seriously.
Stay Ahead of the Law to Stay on Top of Your Business
The last thing you want to think about is your LLC, corporation, or partnership dismantled due to a lack of legal knowledge.
It may seem far away or even unfathomable to think of your business as a part of a lawsuit, but you should take the time to prepare for the possibility in advance. Decide whether you would like to invest in a registered agent or become your own. Even when you have checked all the boxes there will still be scenarios you could not predict so make sure that you also have the right business insurance for your company. Check out Next Insurance, it is easy, online, tailored to your business-specific needs, and affordable.
The recipe to a healthy business is knowledge plus a team of efficient members - may your business be full of both!