What Is a Registered Agent for a Business?


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A registered agent for a business plays many fundamental roles in the business. Additionally, state law may require a registered agent in order for the business to maintain its separate legal identity.

Core Roles

The primary role of a registered agent is to accept service on behalf of a business. Because a business is a separate legal entity, a registered agent serves as a live person who can make sure important individuals within the business get notice of important legal documents. State la usually dictates that a registered agent must be named to accept service of process. Typically, state law requires a registered agent to be listed in the business’ Articles of Formation or Articles of Incorporation.

A registered agent may accept service of process, communications from the Secretary of State, other documents from government entities, taxing authorities and other important entities. Because the registered agent receives such important documents, the business protects itself by making sure that it does not miss important deadlines.

Need for a Registered Agent

A registered agent provides a live person who can accept important documents that pertain to the business. It is particularly important to select a registered agent when you do not have a physical office, which is very often in today’s time. A registered agent must usually be selected in each business where your business is registered. Post office boxes are not sufficient for registered agent purposes.

Business Owner as Agent

Many states permit the business owner to also be the registered agent for the business. However, there may be disadvantages to this approach. Business owners often have many responsibilities in the company, so they may not remember a date on a piece of paper they received. Additionally, a business owner may not be physically present at the site where the legal documents are provided, so this may cause unnecessary delays. Many business owners also do not want to have documents publicly served on them where employees or customers may observe the exchange.

By having a registered agent, the business can protect its interests by ensuring that someone is always available to claim or accept such documents. Additionally, the business owner can prevent his or her personal information from appearing on a public site like the Secretary of State database.

If a Registered Agent Is Not Designated

A business that simply refuses to select a registered agent including not electing the business owner subjects itself to potential liability. Additionally, businesses that fail to designate a registered agent may lose their good standing status from their Secretary of State office. Businesses may face repercussions such as losing their business license, having fees imposed against them, being unable to enter into valid business contracts or being unable to seek recourse in the court system. These drawbacks are in addition to not having a person available who can accept service or losing days when such filings are made to a post office box that no one is checking.

Professional Registered Agents

Many businesses retain a professional registered agent to fill this role. There may be many factors that a business owner considers in selecting a registered agent. For example, the business owner may want the registered agent to have a working office where he or she could accept service during regular working hours. Additionally, business owners may want their registered agent to be able to forward mail in a safe and efficient manner. Even if the registered agent can accept mail and legal service, he or she will still need to notify the business owner of this information.

Professional registered agents may be able to assist with compliance matters. The registered agent may receive important documents from a variety of state entities and may assist with the application and renewal process so that the business owner can remain compliant without having to take away from the business to complete this tedious work.

Professional registered agents often use detailed organizational systems to keep track of important documents that they receive on behalf of the business. Registered agents may be responsible for retaining important documents like bylaws, an operating agreement and articles of incorporation and then uploading them to a cloud system.

Legal Assistance

Businesses that want to protect their business interests may decide to contact a business lawyer for assistance. He or she can explain the legal requirements in your state and discuss various aspects related to compliance in order to protect the financial and legal interests of the business and its owner.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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