A registered agent, also known as a resident agent, agent for service of purpose, or statutory agent, is a business or individual appointed to receive service of process, paperwork from the state relating to your business’ charter and compliance issues. A registered agent may be an employee or officer of the business, or a third party such as a professional registered agent, or a lawyer. It is important to maintain a registered agent. The registered agent is the official representative of the company in such matters, in the state that the business was formed and in the states it operates in. In most states, a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) is obliged to maintain a registered agent if it was formed in that state or has business interests there.
The Functions of Registered Agents
Most businesses are business structures such as corporations or LLCs, rather than individuals. This is due to the numerous liability and tax advantages from organizing into some business structure.
When a registered agent fails to execute their role adequately, it can have severe consequences for the business. For instance, if a person sued your business and a summons was delivered to your registered agent, and that registered agent failed to notify you, and consequently, you did not appear in court and the case went to trial, a default judgment could be passed against you. Furthermore, you would not be able to reverse the judgment. This is a very important reason for why registered agents are retained. If a business chooses to use someone from within the organization as its registered agent, they normally settle on their corporate secretary or governance officer.
Your registered agent’s physical address is publicly available, so as to make it easy for the state or concerned persons to contact you via your registered agent. If a person or entity wants to contact you, they can do so simply by contacting your registered agent. Legally, it is the same thing as contacting your business.
People or Organizations That Can Be Resident Agents
If a business has a physical presence in a state, and it has employees working in that state, it can appoint itself as its own registered agent. In that scenario, the staff at the address used as the address of the registered agent, should treat correspondance with care, and expeditiously, ensuring that correspondence is dealt with by the right people, as it arrives.
If, however, your business’ physical office in a state is staffed by junior officers, it is not wise to use the business as its own registered agent.
Likewise, using the home address of a board member would not be appropriate given that it would be easy for mail to get misplaced or to be left unattended.
The majority of businesses use a third-party resident agent. A third party resident agent will have a physical presence in a state and will have staff available during business hours throughout the week. They will forward your correspondence to your business.
Typically, they charge a fee, billable on an annual basis, for each state that they are used. Many will have offices in all across the fifty states of America.