Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Registered Agent?
In United States business law, a registered agent, also known as a resident agent or statutory agent, is a business or individual designated to receive service of process (SOP) when a business entity is a party in a legal action such as a lawsuit or summons. The registered agent’s address may also be where the state will send the paperwork for the yearly renewal of the business entity’s charter. The registered agent for a business entity may be an individual member of the company, or (more often) a third party, such as the organization’s lawyer or a service company. Failure to properly maintain a registered agent can affect a company negatively.
Can I change my current agent?
Universal Registered Agents maintains a 50 state network of Registered Agent offices and are here to help you and your business.
For varying reasons a business entity might at some point wish to change their registered agent to another party after a registered agent has already been designated. This is accomplished by obtaining a form from the secretary of state where the business entity is registered, completing said form, and filing it with that state office along with any requisite fees which may vary from state to state. In some cases the required form may simply be a dedicated change of registered agent form, and in other cases, such as in Delaware, an actual amendment to the articles of the business entity must be filed.Why do I need a Registered Agent?
Most businesses are not individuals but instead business entities such as corporations or limited liability companies (LLCs). This is because there are substantive (and substantial) liability protections as well as tax advantages to being “incorporated” as opposed to being “self-employed”.
Most jurisdictions in the United States require that any business entity that is formed or doing business within their borders designate and maintain a “Registered Agent”. This person may be known as the “Resident Agent” or “Statutory Agent”, depending on the laws of the individual jurisdiction in which the business entity is registered. The purpose of a Registered Agent is to provide a legal address (not a P.O. Box) within that jurisdiction where there are persons available during normal business hours to facilitate legal service of process being served in the event of a legal action or lawsuit. Generally, the registered agent is also the person to whom the state government sends all official documents required each year for tax and legal purposes, such as franchise tax notices and annual report forms. It is the registered agent’s job to forward these suit documents and notices to the entity itself. Registered Agents generally will also notify business entities if their state government filing status is in “Good Standing” or not. The reason that these notifications are a desired function of a registered agent is that it is difficult for a business entity to keep track of legislative changes and report due dates for multiple jurisdictions given the disparate laws of different states.
Penalties for not maintaining a registered agent generally will cause a jurisdiction to revoke a business’s corporate or LLC legal status as well as in some cases, assess additional penalty fees on the entity.
If a Registered Agent fails to perform their function, it can have dire consequences for the business entity. For example, if a customer fell inside a store and sued the store, and the store’s registered agent failed to notify the business entity of a summons to appear in court to respond to the lawsuit, then when the case went to trial, nobody would appear to defend the store and the customer would win by a default judgment. Additionally, the store would likely not be able to get the judgment overturned on appeal because they had been properly served. This is one of the most common reasons that business entities generally will utilize a third party as their Registered Agent be it a commercial service company, an attorney, or in some cases, a CPA.
The person at the business entity that maintains contact with the registered agent is the corporate secretary or governance officer.Why should I choose you as my registered agent?
- As the Registered Agent name and address is one of public record, generally, the registered agent legal address will be the one listed in all official public documents.
- An outside Registered Agent allows business entities to freely change their location at any time, without being required to file costly changes of address within the state they are registered each time they move.
- Designating a third-party registered agent allows the business owner to travel for business or pleasure without the risk of a default judgment because of a missed lawsuit.
- Commercial registered agents generally have systems to keep track of filing, notification and publishing requirements of business entities which can save businesses hundreds or even thousands of dollars in late penalties were they to miss a required government filing. These are referred to as “Compliance Managers”, “Tax Calendars” and/or “Compliance Calendars”.
- Generally most commercial service providers have “Form Libraries” of forms and other documents required to file business entities in different jurisdictions – or to keep the business entity in compliance or “Good Standing”.
- Some commercial registered agents provide real-time notice of any litigation, and forward all official documents directly to the companies they represent.
- Having service of process delivered to a company’s primary place of business can spark rumors among customers and employees. Designating a separate address for receiving service of process avoids this issue.
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