The process of forming a company is complex. Aspiring business owners must attempt to materialize their creative visions while hiring staff, obtaining financing, developing a marketing strategy, protecting intellectual property and navigating the legal requirements associated with creating their companies. Thankfully, there are numerous resources that new business owners can take advantage of during the startup process in order to make this time of transition more manageable. For example, they can work with experienced business formation attorneys in order to more efficiently and effectively sort through all the legal paperwork necessary to formally register a new business. Once the business is up and running, they can work with a registered agent in order to more easily navigate the regulatory requirements tied to operating a limited liability company in each state in which any given company does business.
The Basics of Forming an LLC
There are four primary legal structures that aspiring business owners can choose from when founding new companies. Sole proprietorships and partnerships are often attractive to small businesses that operate in a limited geographical area, as these legal structures offer a flexible management structure and minimal regulatory oversight. By contrast, a corporate structure offers a far less flexible management style, but is attractive to those larger operations interested in raising capital through the sale of shares to stockholders. However, it is safe to say that most small-to-medium business operations tend to prefer a limited liability company structure for several reasons. First, this option allows for a flexible management style and can be used by one, a few or many owners at once. Second, LLCs are less regulated than corporations are and are not beholden to stockholders. Third, this structure may be taxed as a sole proprietorship or partnership would or it may be taxed like a corporation. Finally, LLCs provide their owners (commonly referred to as members) with a significant personal liability shield. Practically speaking, this shield allows personal assets to be safeguarded against business-related debt, creditors and legal judgments.
Yet, it is important to understand that even though forming an LLC is a uniquely attractive option for many business owners and startup founders, it does have some potential drawbacks. Chief among these drawbacks involves regulatory oversight. Although LLCs are far less regulated and subject to detailed reporting than corporations are, they are generally much more regulated than sole proprietorships and partnerships are. It is partially for this reason that many states require each LLC doing business within their state to identify a registered agent. Due to the benefits that a registered agent provides companies, even LLCs not required by state law to retain the services of a registered agent may benefit from doing so anyway.
Who is the Registered Agent of an LLC?
If you are thinking about forming an LLC, you may be wondering “Who is the registered agent of an LLC? How is this person chosen and what functions do they serve?” These are legitimate questions that deserve complete answers. An experienced business formation attorney can answer these questions in detail, as they pertain to your new company’s location(s) of business. Generally speaking, a registered agent of an LLC is an individual located in a state where that LLC does business. This agent is granted the authority to receive legal and regulatory documentation on behalf of the company, including correspondence from the Secretary of State, notice of lawsuits, tax documentation and service of process notices. You may understandably be wondering why a state would require a business to designate an agent (often required to be employed outside the company) in order to receive certain official correspondence on its behalf. Especially if you do not maintain a physical office in a state where you are doing business, the state government in question benefits from reassurance that it can reliably contact a designated individual during business hours, in regards to official business. This arrangement may significantly benefit companies that do business in multiple locations, as keeping track of all legal, governmental and taxation requirements at once can be truly challenging without a registered agent in place in all states outside the company’s state of incorporation.
Who is the registered agent of an LLC? Numerous individuals can serve in this capacity. Oftentimes, attorneys located in a state in question can be granted the authority to serve as a registered agent. Some states will allow an employee of the affected business to assume this title, although others do not. In general, anyone serving as a registered agent must have a physical street address within the affected state, must generally be available at that physical street address during business hours and must be at least 18 years of age.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you are interested in forming an LLC and/or identifying a registered agent or agents for your LLC, please consider scheduling a consultation with LawTrades today. Our highly experienced attorneys have helped thousands of new business owners and startup founders through every aspect of the business registration process and we would be happy to advise you of your legal options accordingly. We look forward to speaking with you.