If you're getting ready to start a business, you know there are many decisions to make. One of them is deciding who will be your Registered Agent and who will be your LLC organizer — but you might be wondering what the difference is between these two roles.
Here, we'll discuss Registered Agents vs. LLC organizers, the best people to fill those roles, and whether you'll need one — or both — to satisfy your business requirements.
What Is a Registered Agent?
As you go through the formation process, "Registered Agent" is a term/role you'll see mentioned frequently. A Registered Agent is the recipient of important legal documents on behalf of your business. The duties of a Registered Agent include:
Serving as the business’s official point of contact
Receiving important legal documents on behalf of the business
Being available during all regular business hours
Ensuring the business owner receives critical paperwork
A Registered Agent is required for all legal business entities, and you or your LLC organizer will be required to name an agent during the formation process. From that point forward, the Registered Agent will receive all government documents, including legal action, court summonses, subpoenas, tax information, and more. It is the responsibility of the Registered Agent to ensure you receive all of these critical documents promptly and securely.
Who Can Be a Registered Agent?
While you are able to serve as your own Registered Agent, we highly recommend hiring one. Your Registered Agent can either be someone you know or an outside service provider — as long as they meet the following requirements:
A Registered Agent must...
… be over the age of 18.
… have an address in the same state as the business.
… be available to receive documents during business hours.
A Registered Agent can be…
… the business owner or LLC member.
… a personal connection residing in the same state.
… a provider from a third-party Registered Agent service.
Hiring a Registered Agent service comes at a cost to business owners, so why not just do it yourself? There are plenty of reasons to avoid being your own RA, including:
Privacy. If you're listed as your own Registered Agent, it's much easier for others to find your personal information, and you're at risk of being served sensitive documents at your residence.
Time. Registered Agents must be available during all business hours, which limits when and how frequently you can travel from your registered address.
Location. Registered Agents must reside in the same state as the business, so even if your business is remote, you wouldn't be able to move out of state if you're acting as your own Registered Agent.
Hiring a Registered Agent service is a hassle-free way to secure a dedicated Registered Agent in your state without sacrificing your privacy or your time.
What Is an LLC Organizer?
"LLC organizer" sounds like a fancy job title, but in reality, your LLC organizer is the person who signs and files your Articles of Organization — the paperwork that makes your business an official legal entity.
LLC organizer responsibilities include:
Filling out business formation paperwork
Signing the Articles of Organization
Filing the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State
Every LLC must be filed with the business owner's designated state business formation agency — most of the time, this is the Secretary of State, though the recipient may vary. The LLC organizer is responsible for compiling and completing all the paperwork that makes up the Articles of Organization, then signing that document and taking the appropriate steps to file it.
An LLC organizer is, in some ways, like a wedding planner. They take care of all the hassle so the bride and groom (or, in this case, the business owners) can focus on more important tasks without added stress.
Who Can Be an LLC Organizer?
To answer one of the biggest questions out there: Yes, you can act as your own LLC organizer. However, acting as an LLC organizer can be a huge distraction for a business owner, so always choose an LLC organizer carefully.
Who else can be an LLC organizer?
A company or an individual
The business owner or LLC member
A third-party provider like an accountant or attorney
A friend or family (at least 18 years of age)
A business formation service provider like Incfile
Your attorney or accountant may seem like a good LLC organizer, but they will likely charge extra for their services and be unable to focus on the other work they do for you. And if either one ever stops working for you, you'll be stuck needing to fill multiple roles.
Many business owners instead opt for a business formation service to act as their LLC organizer to ensure coverage no matter what.
Incfile's free LLC package gives you an LLC organizer who can file your Articles of Organization accurately and efficiently, not to mention a free Registered Agent for your first year. All you pay is your state's fee — the same you'd pay if you did the work yourself.
Registered Agent vs. LLC Organizer
LLC organizers and Registered Agents are not the same. In theory, the same person can perform both roles — a Registered Agent can file your Articles of Organization, and an LLC organizer can serve as a Registered Agent. Here's a breakdown:
Can Sign/File Articles of Organization
Can Be the Business Owner or LLC Member
Has an Ownership Stake in the Business by Performing Their Duties
Can Receive Documents on Behalf of the Business Owner
Can Be Performed by a Third-Party Service
Has an Obligation to the Business After Formation
Most businesses will need both an LLC organizer and a Registered Agent. Only Registered Agents can receive and forward your important documents. And while you might be tempted to act in one or both roles for your business, there are many benefits to looking for a trusted partner like Incfile instead.
A business formation service can act as your LLC organizer, making your business formation seamless so you're ready to hit the ground running. Similarly, a Registered Agent service can free you up to travel and work as you like while ensuring your personal details are protected and you aren't served sensitive documents in public or at your home.
When Incfile acts as your LLC organizer, you receive one year of Registered Agent service for free (a $119 value).
Frequently Asked Questions About Registered Agents and LLC Organizers
Got more questions about LLC organizers and Registered Agents? We've got answers.
Can an LLC Have More Than One Organizer?
An LLC usually has no more than one organizer. This might seem confusing if you're starting an LLC with partners or other members, especially if you're still deciding how to manage your business. It's important to remember that LLC members and LLC organizers are not the same thing. While the paperwork varies from state to state, most Articles of Organization only allow for one or two organizers to be listed.
This is simply for the signature of the person filing the paperwork. It can be a dedicated LLC organizer, one of the LLC owners, or a representative of a business formation service. Members and ownership details are typically outlined in the business's operating agreement.
What Is One of the Biggest Disadvantages of Organizing a Company as an LLC?
The biggest disadvantage of organizing a company as an LLC is that you may pay more in taxes. Because of pass-through taxation — wherein business profits pass through to your personal income tax — you'll need to pay self-employment taxes. You can potentially reduce your self-employment tax burden by filing taxes as an S Corp.
Can the Registered Agent and the Organizer Be the Same?
Yes, the Registered Agent and LLC organizer for your business can be the same person, but you need to understand the different roles before you fill them. Many business owners want to act as both their own organizer and their own Registered Agent. Not only is this a big job for a busy business owner, but it can also cause a lot of headaches.
Rather than give up your time and flexibility, consider using a third-party provider such as a business formation service or Registered Agent service. It's a great way to outsource the paperwork and hassle, freeing up time to run your business.
Can I Be My Own LLC Organizer?
Yes, you can act as your own LLC organizer, but it requires a lot of time and energy. Instead, focus your energy on getting your business up and running by asking someone else to be your LLC organizer — whether it's a friend or family member, an attorney or accountant, a paid service, or another LLC member.
Registered Agent or LLC Organizer? Get Both With Incfile
Now that you understand the differences between Registered Agents and LLC organizers (and how critical both roles are to your business's launch and success), you're ready to find the best fit for each. A trusted partner like Incfile can form your LLC for $0 plus state fees, secure a free Registered Agent for your first year (saving you $119), and serve as your LLC organizer — all at once.
Wendi is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, IN, with over a decade of experience writing for a variety of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to nonprofit. When she isn't working on solutions for her clients, she can be found spending time with her kids and husband, working in the garden or doing more writing (of the fiction variety).