When you form a business, start a nonprofit, or register to do business in any 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.
1. Choose a professional service.
At first glance, a 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 an employee, owner, or officer to serve as a 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 can 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 nominal savings.
So what, beyond price, should you look for?
First, you should look for a registered agent who can provide foolproof, immediate document delivery and customizable electronic notifications. This takes a combination of hands-on service and state-of-the-art software.
Next, look for a registered agent that equips you with additional compliance tools to help you navigate the requirements of each state. For example, your authority to operate within a state is dependent on filing annual reports in a timely fashion. By missing a filing, you risk forfeiting your good standing with the secretary of state. This can cause all sorts of problems in getting a loan, engaging with new customers, and even upholding your reputation.
As a result, a high-value registered agent service will provide annual report reminders, state forms and filing instructions, and software to give your staff and management confidence.
3. Go with a nationwide provider.
Registered agents are a state-specific appointment. As your organization expands into new states, you’ll need a registered agent with an address in each.
On one hand, 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.
On the other hand, by choosing a nationwide registered agent service, you can meet each state’s requirement and oversee all of those annual filings through a single provider. The right registered agent will support your organization as it grows, resulting in time savings, efficiency, and peace of mind.
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. Same-day processing of all documents is our standard. 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.
If you need extra assistance, we can manage all of the paperwork associated with appointing and renewing your registered agent, including tracking and preparing all filings. 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 compliance team 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. Your 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. Harbor Compliance’s registered agent representation is priced to deliver proven service at an exceptional value, as reflected in our ongoing growth and success as a national registered agent.
For more information and to sign up for our registered agent service online, use the button below.