No matter the state that you’re planning on filing a domestic or foreign entity, you’re going to need a registered agent. Who is eligible to serve as your entity’s registered agent varies from state to state, but one thing remains the same, wherever your entity is registered, whether domestic or foreign, you must have a valid registered agent in that particular state.  The main purpose of having a registered agent is so that you can be served in that particular state at an address of your choosing and so that you do not miss important notices, such as tax notices. Without a registered agent, you could miss an opportunity to defend yourself in a legal action or you could miss an important tax deadline.

The Secretary of State’s office (or Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office in the case of Massachusetts) will generally be the office where you can find the rules for who can serve as a registered agent in that particular state. Some states will even allow your own entity to serve as the registered agent, but this is not the norm. You, a friend, a business partner, a family member, your attorney or a paid third party service provider may also be able to serve as your registered agent, depending on applicable state law.

What Does a Registered Agent Do and how Much Do They Cost

Registered agents come at different price points. Many business owners, if legally allowed, choose themselves as the registered agent or they choose their attorney. This generally eliminates the need for added costs. However, if you need to file an entity in a particular state where no other option is available, you may need to hire someone. Prices for registered agent services providers generally range from $50 to $300 per year.

A registered agent, whether paid or free (such as your own attorney), can provide a variety of advantages and services. These advantages and services include:

  • Physical Location – Certain notices and legal documents must be delivered to a physical location. A registered agent can provide you with a physical location in a state where you are not present or a physical location where you may be working out of your home or primarily using a P.O. Box for mail.
  • Mail Forwarding – If you change locations, having a registered agent ensures that you are not dealing with mail forwarding issues. If you move your office, your mail will continue to be delivered to your registered agent, even if you forget or don’t think about changing your address with the applicable state office or the sender sends the mail to the wrong address relying on such things as executed agreements with addresses for notice.
  • Compliance Monitoring – Having a registered agent can help insure that you receive important documents on time. Having a registered agent other than yourself or your business means you’ll most likely be getting certain important documents delivered not only to yourself but also to your registered agent, so even if you miss it or an employee forgets to mention it, your registered agent will have it and inform you of/forward you the respective documents. It essentially can function as a document security blanket.
  • Document Organization – A registered agent can function as a secondary organizational tool. Although you should always have an internal file management system, for certain documentation, your registered agent can serve as a second organizational filing tool. As documents are delivered to your registered agent, they will be keeping them in their own filing management system, so you essentially have a backup in case a particular document is missing.

A registered agent is necessary in any state. Now whether or not you’re going to need to pay someone depends on where you’re located, what state you are doing business in and where your business entity is filed. Most of the time, your attorney will be your registered agent for free if your attorney is located in the state where you are running your business, or where your business assets are located (real estate), and another party is not requiring you to form your business in a different state.

As part of your transaction or business startup process or management, Dodson Legal Group can help you navigate the requirements of registered agents, as well as advise you on where your business should be registered to conduct business. For this assistance and guidance, please call  844-4DODSON to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.