1. What Is An LLC?
2. Registered Agents and Florida

A registered agent for a Florida LLC is a person who meets requirements for accessibility and responsibility. They can act locally as an agent and point of contact between the state's various agencies and the company. With the large Florida market at stake, and with the potential advantages of LLC formation within that market, anyone wanting to do business in the Sunshine State needs to consider retaining a registered agent.

What Is An LLC?

When it is time for a new company to form, they face a choice between the many different kinds of company structures. The most basic structure is the sole proprietorship, wherein the business is basically synonymous with its single owner; the partnership is essentially the same as the sole proprietorship, but with the ownership divided up between multiple people. In either case, the tax situation for the company is usually advantageous, but in terms of liability, the company's owners are stuck with full personal responsibility for all the debts of the company.

A corporation is a legally constructed person designed to cut back on the liability of the owners of the company. A share is owned by a group of people referred to as shareholders, each of whom holds a number of certificates giving them control of a percentage of the company. When the company faces legal action of some kind, any judgments entered against it can only target the assets owned by the company itself — the personal assets of the shareholders are safe. But a corporation has to pay a yearly tax on its income, in addition to the taxes the shareholders have to pay on any earnings they make from the company.

LLCs are a happy medium between these kinds of companies. An LLC, like a corporation, counts as a separate person for liability, so the owners of the LLC are insulated against legal problems in a way that sole proprietorships are not. But the income of the LLC typically counts as “pass through” for state tax purposes, meaning that the owners just treat it as personal income from self-employment when they file their taxes. Of course, an LLC is a state-by-state status, meaning both that the laws governing it may vary based on where it is filed and that its federal tax status has to be negotiated separately.

Registered Agents and Florida

In Florida, an LLC is required to name an eligible person as the registered agent for the company. A registered agent is a person who the state can contact for things like official mail or process service in the state, so that the government knows someone associated with the company is easily accessible at all times. The registered agent has to meet certain requirements.

  • The registered agent needs to have a registered office, or a street address where they can be found if needed. This cannot be a post office box.
  • Any documents the registered agent accepts have to be passed on to the ownership of the LLC within a reasonable timeframe. Since these items are likely to be government paperwork or court documents, you'll probably want to get those quickly anyway.
  • The agent needs to be available during regular business hours. This doesn't mean that they can't be doing something else at those times, just that they need to be able to receive visitors and correspondence at those times.
  • One of the owners of the company can serve as the registered agent, as long as they would meet the other requirements. Of course, this person will need to be available to receive legal documents when needed, perhaps limiting their ability to do things like travel for business. Also, if the address used is your home address, this may lead to your personal information being publicly available.
  • A registered agent can also be a company, which means that there are several companies that specialize in operating as registered agents for other companies. These are especially useful for companies whose owners spend most of their time out of state and who are worried about losing legal proceedings due to not getting their documents served properly. Of course, the company will want recompense for their services.

If you need help with finding a registered agent in Florida for your LLC, 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.