What is a Registered Agent?
First some background – why are so many companies registered in Delaware?
I was recently asked why so many Fortune 500 companies were incorporated in the tiny state of Delaware. To put it in perspective, half of U.S. publicly traded companies and over 60% percent of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware. Additionally, in 2012, more than 90% of IPOs launched as Delaware business entities. So what is causing so many companies, companies like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, AMC, or REMAX, to incorporate in a state that has a resident population of less than 1 million? And, most importantly, how can you do it as well?
The Court System – The quality of Delaware courts and judges are second to none when it comes to corporate law. The court system even has a special court called the Court of Chancery that specializes in corporate law disputes without juries. Instead of months and sometimes years of waiting for time on a judge’s docket due to non-corporate cases, the Court of Chancery offers businesses the expectation that corporate legal disputes are addressed promptly and by specialized judges. It also helps that the Delaware’s Court of Chancery dates back to 1792, providing some predictability to potential rulings.
Up-to-date Legal Framework – Delaware prides itself on having up-to-date laws that spell out what companies can and cannot do in the 21st century. Delaware’s General Corporation Law provides guidance to business entities and Delaware’s tax law is kept up to date, with 4 tax legislation bills proposed and passed in June and July of 2017 alone!
How do I incorporate in Delaware?
Not just everyone can incorporate in Delaware. In order to incorporate in Delaware, you need to have a physical location and address in the state of Delaware. So does that mean that the companies that were mentioned before, companies like Twitter, AMC, and Yelp all operate out of Delaware? Well, yes and no. Each of those companies has something called a registered agent. A registered agent is someone who is registered in the same state in which a business entity is established and is responsible for receiving correspondence on behalf of the incorporate company and forwarding it to the correct address.
Types of communication that will go to your registered agent –
- Information regarding tax payments
- Judgements involving your business
- Financial documents
- Any other legal documents
What are the benefits of a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is more than just someone who forwards legal documents to the address you choose. A registered agent is piece of mind that all your legal documents will be handled with, depending on the service, with professionalism and discretion. A registered agent will promptly notify you when they have received any documents, remind you of important tax dates, notify you when your business’ annual reports are due to the state, and can even help walk you through business filings. Moreover, since you will have someone worrying about accepting all of these documents during your business’ working hours, you can focus on growing your business and also avoid personally accepting any embarrassing legal documents in front of clients or family.
Do I Need a Registered Agent?
That depends – not every state requires that you have a registered agent. However, if you would like incorporate in Delaware, you will be legally obligated to have and maintain a registered address in Delaware which may, but need not be, the same place where you do business. Creating an LLC, S-Corp, or a C-Corp in Delaware without obtaining a registered agent may result in losing good standing with the state and running the risk of the state agency dissolving your business entity. The paperwork and added fees of reinstating your business is not worth the added hassle. If you are serious about starting a business and incorporating in Delaware, here are some additional benefits to a registered agent:
No Desire for Extra Paperwork:
Registered Agents will track all of your official notices and annual report due dates with the state you are registered in. All of your important state compliance documents will be in one place and with someone who is familiar with the process and intricacies of that specific state’s business laws.
Not all businesses have working hours of 9-5. A registered agent will give you the flexibility to maintain whatever working hours you would like since they need to be available during regular business hours to accept official notices from the state or any service of process in event of a lawsuit.
If you’re someone who is just starting a business and doesn’t want to list their home address as the physical location of a business, a registered agent will solve that problem since their office will be your business address. When you list an address as a point of contact for a business, that address now becomes public record. This means that if anyone wanted to contact your business, they could look you up and get your home address – this includes companies who want to send you advertisements for their products and services, flooding your mail with unwanted junk mail. Moreover, in the digital age we live in now, there are thousands of companies that use public records to pull addresses and information on individuals to add to their “Big Data” that is then sold to the highest bidder. Setting your home address or a friend’s address as your point of contact for your business might not be the best idea.
Where can I get a Registered Agent and what makes a good one?
You can hire us as your registered agent right here! The average cost of obtaining a registered agent in the state of Delaware is around $100-$300 per year, depending on the company and the services purchased. The list of Delaware Registered Agents is provided solely as a convenience and the state does not endorse any specific agents. In fact, Registered Agents aren’t even regulated by the state. Since the only legal requirement are that they have a physical address in Delaware and are open during normal business hours, any random person could sign up to be a registered agent.
That doesn’t mean that all registered agent services are created equal. Whether you choose Business Solution Services as your registered agent service or choose to go with any of the others listed on the Delaware Department of State website, here are some services to make sure your agent is doing everything they can for you and your business:
- Obtaining a Federal Tax ID Number for your company
- Filing a Foreign Qualification form in your home state. If you operate out of Michigan but you incorporated in Delaware, you will be considered as a foreign entity in the state you operate in.
- Offer a mail forwarding service with a physical street address.
- Handle any business on behalf of your company with the Secretary of State
- Compliance reminders
- Instant access to your documents. Some documents are time-sensitive and should be in your hands immediately.
Obtaining a registered agent in the state of Delaware is an easy and simple process that will save you the headache of paperwork and let you focus on the things you are truly passionate about. No one starts a company to do paperwork – let a Registered Agent take care of that for you.