5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Registered Agent

Posted on June 11, 2018 by Betsy Gonzalez in Business Compliance, Nonprofit Compliance.

When you incorporate a business, start a nonprofit, or register to do business in a new state, appointing a registered agent is required. A registered agent is also required for many state licenses. The function of the registered agent is to receive legal documents and other official notices for your organization. Technically, anyone with an office that is located within the state and open to receive deliveries during business hours may serve. But your registered agent is much more than a legal formality, with responsibilities that go far beyond accepting your mail.

In fact, your registered agent is a critical legal outpost for your organization, providing early warning of risks with the potential to do major damage. To make sure you get the best value and protection for your investment, there are five factors you should consider when choosing a registered agent.

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1. Choose a professional service.

At first glance, the registered agent’s task seems simple enough: have an office that’s open during business hours. As a result, people are often tempted to recruit a staffer or officer to serve as registered agent. But this is a case where doing it yourself simply doesn’t pay. If the person you choose is ever away on vacation, or otherwise unavailable to receive a notice when the state attempts delivery, you will be held legally responsible for the contents anyway. If the notice concerns a legal action, you may have a judgment entered against you by default before you’re even aware of the lawsuit.

In addition, having a professional registered agent means you don’t have to worry about filing an update with the state every time your office location or contact information changes. With a professional service, you can always be sure you’ll receive critical correspondence in time to act.

Given the potential risks, it makes sense to invest in a professional service that specializes in handling sensitive documents and forwarding them immediately for response.

2. Consider value, not just price.

Price is important, but only in relation to the value you receive for your money. Remember, the cheapest option is the DIY route, which means absorbing a huge amount of risk for a nominal savings.

So what, beyond price, should you look for? You should be looking for a registered agent who can provide foolproof, immediate document delivery with minimal work on your part. This takes a combination of hands-on service and state-of-the-art software.

3. Go with a nationwide provider.

Each year, your registered agent must be reappointed by renewing the service. Your authority to operate within a state is dependent on having an active registered agent. If your service lapses, you risk forfeiting your good standing with the secretary of state.

Since your good standing is key to getting a loan, qualifying to operate in other states, and many business transactions, any lapse in your good standing can bring your operations to a grinding halt. In addition, your organization’s loss of good standing will generally be reflected in state databases, which can do widespread damage to your reputation.

If your organization operates in multiple states, managing a patchwork of registered agents simply generates extra paperwork for you and compounds the risk of a renewal or other document falling through the cracks. By choosing a nationwide registered agent service, you can oversee all of those annual filings through a single provider.

4. Evaluate service levels.

At a minimum, your registered agent should provide same-day electronic uploading of all documents with no added or hidden fees. For our clients, we guarantee same-day processing of all documents. We further provide personal courtesy notices whenever a document has been forwarded. By alerting our clients of any activity, we give them maximum time to respond to critical notices. When it comes to legal matters, every day counts, which is why mediocre service from a registered agent just won’t do.

We also manage all of the paperwork associated with appointing and renewing your registered agent, including tracking and preparing all filings. Our compliance software monitors our clients’ good standing continuously, and we can renew services automatically if desired. The only paperwork our clients have to worry about is writing a check, and we can even make that easier by consolidating billing on a schedule that suits you best.

Finally, our registered agent clients, like all of the businesses and nonprofits that partner with us, have access to a dedicated account team of compliance specialists, including licensed attorneys, to provide guidance whenever they have questions or need assistance.

5. Evaluate software.

Your registered agent service should provide reliable software that ensures timely transmission of documents in the format of your choice. All of our registered agent clients have access to our state-of-the-art Entity Manager software, which interfaces with state databases to provide real-time data on your organization’s good standing. You staff can monitor your entity’s status in all 50 states, access documents, print reports, share notices, and manage other corporate filings such as annual reports, all from the same user-friendly interface.

By consolidating entity management needs in one simple portal, our clients reduce their internal paperwork and enhance internal reporting.

Now, let’s look at the price again.

Now that you know what a registered agent should provide, you can evaluate the true value to your organization. Our service is priced to provide exceptional service at an exceptional value, as reflected in our ongoing growth and success as a nationwide registered agent. In fact, many of our business licensing and entity management clients start their compliance journey with us through registered agent service.

Interested in learning more about our service? Get in touch, or give us a call at 1-888-995-5895. We’ll be glad to talk.

What our clients say . . .

Harbor Compliance provides top-notch Registered Agent service! They help manage the documents associated with several of our clients’ documents and filings with the Delaware Corporation Commission. Directly after we purchased their service for one of the first filings, I was contacted by a dedicated representative via email. He introduced himself and let me know that he would be there to help with any questions we had or services we required. He stayed true to his word and responded immediately to a question I had a few days later. His answer was prompt and detailed. In my opinion, their “Human Touch” element is what really makes this company stand out! I wouldn’t go anywhere else!

– Janae, Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth, P.C.

We decided we needed to change our registered agent for our LLCs due to lackluster service and lack of online account or payment options with our current provider. Harbor Compliance did not disappoint. Cliff and his team provided outstanding service in managing the transfer of registered agent to them. They were very responsive and action-focused, getting the transfer done within 24 hours with zero hassle. They kept us updated and at ease throughout the process. The online account design and interface look excellent, offering easy online payment and uploaded scans of any documents that Harbor Compliance receives on our behalf.

– Ian

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