Choosing a registered agent might be required for your business, particularly if you are forming in a state other than your home state and you don’t have a physical business address in that state. The registered agent is someone who will accept and send legal papers on your company’s behalf. There are certain requirements that you must abide by when hiring a registered agent, depending on the state you are forming in.

Some states allow the registered agent to be an employee or owner of the business. However, most states require that the company hire a third party to operate as the company’s registered agent. Be mindful that the registered agent must have a physical address in the state in which you are registering or incorporating, and cannot utilize a P.O. box. The main reason for this is due to the fact that the registered agent will receive legal papers, inclusive of the initial serving papers, if a legal suit is filed against the business.

Role of the Registered Agent

All limited liability companies and corporations should have a registered agent, regardless of whether the state requires it or not. Having such an agent will reduce the probability of missing important filing deadlines and other key paperwork that might be required of your business. This will be especially helpful when you are out of the office, away on vacation, or simply don’t have the means to oversee the filing deadlines and paperwork associated with the business.

Why You Need a Registered Agent

Just about every state requires a registered agent. Such information must be included in the formation documents for all businesses. Therefore, in order to properly establish your business, whether it be an LLC or corporation, you must include your registered agent’s name and address on the Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation.

In addition to keeping track of the important paperwork and abiding by the requirement of obtaining a registered agent, having an agent will make it easier if you need to sue another company or if your company is sued. You can more easily identify what documentation is required, and have the agent oversee the process of sending out and receiving paperwork related to the legal suit.

What Types of Documents Does a Registered Agent Manage?

The registered agent handles a variety of paperwork, including:

  1. Legal papers, including subpoenas
  2. Tax documents
  3. Formation documents
  4. Annual filing documents

After receiving the documentation, the agent must pass along the paperwork to the business owners, or alternatively, the appropriate representative who is in charge of receiving such paperwork from the agent. Generally, for large corporations, the company will elect a secretary, manager, or executive.

How Many Registered Agents Am I Required to Have?

Generally speaking, a company must have at least one registered agent. Some large companies choose to have more than one registered agent to keep better track of all documentation. Therefore, some companies might choose to hire a registered agent to oversee the legal paperwork, but have another registered agent to receive the tax documentation.

Regardless, if you are operating a company in 3 different states, then you must appoint a registered agent in each state. The registered agent in Florida cannot operate as the registered agent in Texas.

When working with your registered agents, you want to ensure that the agent is fully aware of where your company does business, and how many other states your company is authorized to do business in. If you fail to answer a legal request due to the negligence of your registered agent, your business and other owners might be liable for the failure to respond. This is why it is crucial to work with the agent to ensure that he or she can handle the influx of potential paperwork, especially for such large companies. When finding a registered agent, you should seek out those entities that are large enough in size to be able to handle such paperwork, along with choosing a company with a good reputation.

If you need help learning more about choosing a registered agent, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.