A Registered Agent plays a very important role in your LLC. However, sometimes you may need to change your Registered Agent, or you might wonder whether a Registered Agent service would fit your needs better. Here are the important facts that you need to know about LLC Registered Agents.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A Registered Agent (which may also be called a resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process) is responsible for providing their physical address as a place for the business to receive all legal notices and documentation. This includes franchise tax forms, service of process notices (in case your business gets entangled in a lawsuit) and annual report forms that involve your business.
All LLCs are required to choose a Registered Agent in the state where business will be conducted when they file their entity with their secretary of state.
If you are the owner of your business, you could designate yourself as the Registered Agent, but it's not without risks. You can also appoint a friend, choose a family member or hire a Registered Agent service. The Registered Agent position doesn't have to be involved in actual business operations.
The most important thing to consider is that your Registered Agent must be dependable since they are responsible for receiving crucial business paperwork during normal office hours. Additionally, P.O. Boxes can't be used — you'll need to provide a physical address where someone will be during standard business hours Monday through Friday (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).
If you don't appoint a Registered Agent or you fail to report a change of agent to your Secretary of State, you could fall out of good standing with the state, resulting in hefty fines or penalties. These can include revocation of your license to do business, as well as your right to enter into legal contracts and/or access the state court system. All of these could lead to messy financial and legal hardships.
What Is the Benefit of a Registered Agent Service?
It's easy to just name yourself as your Registered Agent and list your business address, but there are several circumstances where you might want or need the help of a Registered Agent service. Here are some examples:
Let's say you have a thriving deli in New Jersey and you want to expand your business into neighboring states. Each state where you open up your restaurant will require you to have a Registered Agent in the state where your new business is located. A Registered Agent service is the best option if you don't know anyone in that state who can fill this vital role.
As a business owner, you inevitably have a ton of projects on your plate. Who has time to sort through the piles of mail that are sent to your address every day? Problems can arise if an important legal document gets shoved to the bottom of the stack of invoices. Failing to respond to certain legal paperwork could result in expensive fines and penalties.
Not every small business owner works out of an office. If you work from home, then your business address may also be your home address. A Registered Agent's address is a matter of public record, so you may not want to put your home address out there for anyone to access. Hiring an outside Registered Agent can keep this personal information protected.
How Do I Change My Registered Agent?
In order to change your Registered Agent, you'll need to perform the following steps:
Visit your Secretary of State's website.
Search for "change of registered agent."
Different states have different requirements, so follow the directions provided on your secretary of state's website.
Fill out the specific state change of agent form or other listed forms and send them in along with any required fee.
While that may sound easy, you might encounter a few obstacles along the way. For example, New York has a "Certificate of Change" form, a "Certificate of Change (by agent)" form, plus a "Certificate of Resignation of Registered Agent" form. It can get really confusing figuring out which form to use and whether you need to file more than one!
Fortunately, Incfile has you covered. Not only can our business experts help you to file your change of Registered Agent forms, but we also offer an incredible Registered Agent service free for the first year with any of our three business formation packages. After that, for just $119 per year, we can continue in this capacity and let you know about any legal documents we receive on your behalf.
We'll also help you stay on top of deadlines, such as filing annual reports and other essential documents to keep your business in good standing.