When you start a new Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Florida and are filing your articles of incorporation and other formation documents with the state, one of the questions you must answer is who is your registered agent.
An LLC is a business structure that treats your business as a distinct legal entity. In addition to professional credibility, this distinction also gives you, as a business owner, limited personal liability protection.
Because your LLC is a legal entity that is distinct from you, it must interact with the state government and communicate with representatives of the legal world, such as lawyers and debt collectors.
So, it's not enough for your LLC to have a mailing address, it must also hire an official registered agent to receive important mail and other communications.
Simply put a registered agent is an individual or entity whose duty it is to receive important legal documents on behalf of your LLC. Your registered agent will be your LLC’s main point of contact and because of this, it must have a physical address in the state where you are doing business.
Your registered agent will receive documents served in the event of a lawsuit or a judgment against your LLC, and will be responsible for notifying you of state-required filings, such as annual reports.
You have essentially two options when choosing a registered agent in Florida:
If you designate an individual as your registered agent, this person can be a member of your LLC, a manager of your LLC, or any individual at all, as long as they have a legal address in Florida.
You can also designate yourself as the registered agent for your LLC. In the case of a single owner LLC, for example, that same single owner can also be the registered agent.
The main advantage of being your own registered agent is price. A qualified professional service will cost you $50 to $150, while acting as your own registered agent is free.
Nevertheless, whomever you choose must have a physical address in Florida. A P.O. Box will not suffice as an individual registered agent’s address.
An individual agent should also be aware that their name and physical street address will be a matter of public record and will be easily found by anyone searching the company.
They should also understand that they will need to be available at all regular business hours to receive mail and official documents, which means they must be at the registered physical address from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.
If you decide to pay the service fee, the advantages of hiring a qualified professional service as your registered agent are as follows:
Given the two options, most attorneys will recommend that you hire a service. The fees are very modest, and if you value privacy, flexibility, and organizational assistance, it is easily worth the cost.
When running a small business, you need to focus as much of your resources as possible on growing your business. Having professional administrative help, increasing your flexibility, and limiting your exposure to junk mail and other abuses of public communication will only help your bottom line.
For more information regarding how to start an LLC, including how to choose a registered agent, contact an experienced Florida business attorney to arrange a consultation in which you can receive the answers you need.