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Registered Agent

If you're looking to form an LLC, a corporation, or any kind of business it can seem overwhelming at first. Getting a registered agent can help you manage your new business and take a huge weight off your shoulders.

This article will cover everything you need to know about getting a registered agent, what they do, and how it helps.

What is a Registered Agent?

Registered agents are a responsible third-party that are available to receive service of process notes, official correspondence including correspondence from the Secretary of State, and any other official notifications.

Usually, they are responsible for receiving tax forms, notice of lawsuits, and other official notifications that are time-sensitive on behalf of your corporation, LLC, or partnership. Registered agents are required to have an address in the state where the business was registered. A P.O. box does not count as a local address since registered agents are required to receive time-sensitive information.

What Does a Registered Agent Do?

Registered agents essentially provide a point of contact for your business in its registered state. They are there to accept a service of process legal notifications and tax documents. Good registered agents also provide additional services, often including company formations, bookkeeping, accounting, virtual offices, and mail handling. Not every agent will offer all of these services, but most will offer one or two in addition to acting as a basic registered agent. They are also responsible for accepting legal documents pertaining to any lawsuits or judgments involving your business.

Why You Need a Registered Agent

Registered agents come with a lot of benefits. They make the management of your business a lot easier, along with several other core business advantages. They also offer some core protections that help you keep your business and personal life separate.

Avoid Putting Your Address Online

Having a registered agent helps you avoid putting your personal address online as your business address if you don’t have a physical office yet.

Avoid Being Served in Front of Family and Friends

When you’re serving as a registered agent for your own business you risk getting served while you are away from your business. Since legal notifications are often time-sensitive the person serving the documents isn’t likely to wait for a convenient moment to deliver the paperwork.

Assistance with Additional Services

Since registered agents are usually also qualified business professionals in their own right, many also offer other management services that take some of the burden out of running your own business. Commonly bookkeeping, accepting other kinds of mail, and even accounting can be included in their list of services.

Why are you required to have a registered agent?

Businesses are required to have a registered agent because business correspondence can be unpredictable and very time-sensitive, the state needs to know where your business can be contacted any day during business hours.

How to Choose a Registered Agent

Choosing an agent is an important step in figuring out how your business will be run. Any agents in consideration have to meet a few requirements, or they won’t count as an agent with the state.

Requirements of a Registered Agent

Registered agents must be at least 18 years of age, must have a physical address in the state where your business is registered, and must be available at that address during your hours of business.

Qualities to Look For?

You should look for other professional qualifications as well as testimonials from their other clients or recommendations from their previous employer. Attorneys, CPAs, and fiduciaries are all potentially good candidates for a registered agent. Other professional qualifications related to business, accounting, or financial management are all good signs.

Can You Assign Yourself as a Registered Agent?

If you live in the same state as your business is registered you can assign yourself as a registered agent for your company, but it isn’t always a good idea to do so. Being your own registered agent can add a lot of complications to your business life.

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Registered Agent

Yes. The most common consequence for not having a registered agent is that the state will dissolve your LLC or corporation when the problem is discovered. Dissolving your business does not usually mean that it is not responsible for its tax obligations, legal settlements, or any outstanding debts. If your business is dissolved for not having a registered agent your liability protection may also be affected.

FAQs

What is the purpose of a registered agent?

A registered agent’s basic responsibility is to receive mail and notifications on behalf of a business. They are required to be available at all times during the business’s normal hours, which frees other representatives of the business to leave the office, go on vacation, and otherwise be unavailable for official governmental and legal correspondence.

What does it take to be a registered agent?

The first basic requirement to be a registered agent is that you are at least 18 years of age and are considered legally competent. You are also required to maintain an address (business or residence) within the same state as the business. The address is required to be a physical address, PO boxes don't count. Some states also have other requirements. For instance, in Virginia, the registered agent must be either an attorney or a part of the business's management.

Can I be my own registered agent in Delaware?

Yes, Delaware allows business people to act as their own registered agents in Delaware as long as they meet all other requirements of the position. If you serve as your own registered agent you are also required to be available during all normal business hours or to have another registered agent available in your stead.

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