In the U.S., every legal entity is required to have a designated party (registered agent or DOS process) to receive notices of service of process and important state documents. That party is usually a registered agent or DOS process. Few people recognize the risk they put themselves and their assets at by agreeing to serve as their own registered agent or as the registered agent for another entity.
“But companies that offer registered agent services are just trying to rip me off!”
Many companies that provide registered agent services suffer from the poor reputation a few unscrupulous providers have given the industry as a whole.
We found a variety of myths about registered agent services. Here are a few that appeared most often:
Myth: A registered agent is just a glorified mail sorting service
While providers of registered agent services do sift through a lot of junk mail, there is a great deal of preparation that goes into the swift response that occurs as soon as a service of process is pulled from the mass of direct mailers.
While mail sorting may be an added benefit of engaging a registered agent provider, it is at best a bonus to the reliable response that is the true value of any competent provider.
Myth: I can effectively serve as my own registered agent
Is it possible? Yes. Is it easy? Absolutely not.
Some states have different compliance requirements than others and juggling the complexity of multiple state’s due dates and rules is a daunting task for any lone individual.
Every state has very specific filing requirements that can make the ostensibly simple process of filing an annual report a lengthy, complicated and expensive process.
For example, some states designate a day each year that the annual report is due while others base the due date on the anniversary of the day or month that the company formed.
Still, others set the due date according to the end of the fiscal year of the company.
The different types of entities within each state may also receive different treatment, be they limited liability companies, corporations, limited partnerships, etc.
Myth: I can file my annual reports on or close to the due dates and be fine
Not every state has shifted to online filing and some, like Washington D.C., require original signed documents.
Budget cuts have further delayed report processing times in multiple states; some states can take up to four months.
Some states are midway through the process of switching to an online filing system, which can delay filing confirmations still further as bugs are worked out of the system.
By not filing ahead of time or having a registered agent service handle the filing for you, you put yourself at risk of running over the deadlines.
Myth: All states require the same information on all reports
False. There are a variety of different requirements in different states.
Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin require financial information only from corporations.
Meanwhile, Colorado and Iowa only require a principal business address and the information of the registered agent.
However, states such as Alabama, Maryland, and Texas require the reporting of detailed financial information based on assets and income within the state.
Myth: I don’t need to keep notices from the state once I’ve marked the deadline on my calendar
While technically true, notices serve as great reminders and can contain important information you may need to file your reports, such as your password or pin numbers.
However, not every state sends notices, which makes it beneficial to use a compliance calendar or an entity management system like BizLauncher’s Online Dashboard to track report deadlines and set automatic notifications of upcoming due dates.
Myth: Registered agent services are too expensive
Just like car or health insurance, the service of a registered agent provider is something which you buy hoping you won’t need but are grateful to have in the moments when you will.
Companies have lost millions of dollars in completely avoidable lawsuits that stemmed from their lack of compliance at the state level.
This doesn’t happen when you engage a registered agent.
Myth: My business doesn’t actually need a registered agent
Every legal entity — Corporation, DBA, LLC, Nonprofit, or S-Corp — is required by law to appoint a registered agent on its own behalf.
If a legal entity operates in multiple states, it must appoint a registered agent with an address in each state to maintain compliance.
Some states require an entity to be in compliance before it can submit its annual report or apply for a merchant processing account. This can be a major obstacle if you’re a small business trying to collect revenue!
Myth: I don’t have time to pick and set up a registered agent service!
Your registered agent can be a risk point that is easy to overlook in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
We understand, you’re a busy individual and your clients always need something from you.
That’s why BizLauncher makes it quick and painless to set up an account, get the services you need, and get on with your busy day. When your compliance due date is approaching, you will get the first notification detailing the steps necessary to maintain your compliance.