Massachusetts is a great place to settle down, start a business, and find your passion. Starting an LLC comes with unique challenges, and one of those is appointing a registered agent. We're here to help you through the process of learning about what registered agents are and how to pick one. Today's article will take you through everything you need to know about working with or becoming a registered agent in Massachusetts.
Registered agents are important parts of LLC compliance. Without a registered agent, the state will charge you fees. Therefore, having a registered in Massachusetts is essential for the success of your LLC. The good news is that working with a registered agent is less complicated than it sounds.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about registered agents in Massachusetts.
What is a Massachusetts Registered Agent?
A registered agent (also sometimes known as a resident agent) in Massachusetts is a person or entity that becomes the point of contact for your LLC. If the state wants to communicate with your LLC, manage files, or review documents, the registered agent is the person or entity it goes through. Moreover, you're required by law to have a registered agent in Massachusetts. If you fail to follow this law, you'll be charged additional fees and may be barred from conducting business in the state.
In Massachusetts, registered agents handle many tasks on behalf of the LLC. Some of these tasks include:
- Managing annual reports for the state
- Keeping the LLC in good standing
- Handling service of process
- Managing certification of good standing
- Document storage (in some cases)
These are only a handful of tasks that registered agents in Massachusetts carry out. Depending on who you choose as a registered agent, those tasks can increase.
Who Can Be the Registered Agent in Massachusetts?
One question many people have is whether or not the owner can be the registered agent. In fact, many people think it's easiest if the owner (or an employee) acts as the registered agent. While this is true in some cases, being the owner and registered agent of an LLC isn't always a good idea.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we'll begin with who can be the registered agent of an LLC in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, anyone over the age of 18 who has a primary address in the state of Massachusetts can be the registered agent. This includes the owner, members of the company, and even family members of the owner. Moreover, other LLCs, registered agent services, for example, can also become the registered agent so long as their primary location is in Massachusetts.
While all of these people and entities can be the registered agent for your business, it's best to use a registered agent service in most cases. While these services charge a small fee, there is a lot of peace of mind that comes with using them.
Why Do Businesses Need a Massachusetts Registered Agent?
Registered agents are required by law
in the state of Massachusetts. Therefore, you need to have a registered agent whether you want to or not. That said, registered agents don't have to be a burden. In fact, registered agents can provide your business with a point of contact that's not the owner. We're going to show you exactly why this is beneficial.
Registered agents in Massachusetts need to publically list their primary address. If you're going to become the registered agent of your own company, this means you have to make your address public information for the state. Unfortunately, this ruins your privacy and leaves you vulnerable.
Another privacy perk that comes with an outside sourced registered agent is discretion. When going through the legal process, the state will send someone to contact the registered agent. If the owner of the LLC is the registered agent, or someone else within the company, this can expose customers to the legal process–that's something you don't want.
If you utilize a service, the legal process goes through them instead and is then discreetly forwarded to you at a convenient time.
Another perk of using a registered agent service is the flexibility they provide. Flexibility is essential because registered agents need to be present during normal business hours. Therefore, if you're planning on being the registered agent of your own company, you have to be available at all times.
Unfortunately, the state isn't interested in your vacations or situations where you can't be available. If this occurs, you'll be met with penalties and other issues. Working with a registered agent service can give you the flexibility to take time off, relax, and not worry about being the point of contact for your LLC.
Compliance is one of the most important parts of having a registered agent. First and foremost, registered agents are required by law in almost every state. Therefore, you need a registered agent to remain compliant for legal reasons.
While this is important, registered agents also handle annual reports, legal processes, etc. This can help you avoid penalties with the state and other fees.
Finally, registered agents can provide data storage. Data storage is necessary because it makes your documents easy to access and saves them for your records. In addition, having good data storage practices makes it easier to submit annual reports on time and prevents fees.
While you can choose to be your own registered agent, it's almost always better to use a professional service.
What To Look for When Choosing a Massachusetts Registered Agent
There are dozens of registered agent services in Massachusetts. While each service has strengths and weaknesses, there are a few things you can look for to help you narrow down your options. When looking for a registered agent service, you want to offer one or more of the features we discuss below.
When searching for a registered agent, you want to work with a professional company. While you can be the registered agent as the owner of an LLC or choose someone else within the company, working with a professional company relieves pressure and makes the process simple.
Professional services come with many benefits. For example, a professional service can manage data, handle annual reports, and make sure your LLC is compliant with laws or regulations specific to your state. Plus, some registered agent companies offer additional services to enhance your experience.
The second most important factor to consider is the cost. While you can save money choosing to be the registered agent yourself, it's almost always better to work with a professional service. The cost will be higher, but you get more options and customizable services.
That said, you should make sure the cost is within reason. A quality registered agent service will have basic packages that cost between $50 and $100. Some companies will also offer additional services, but these packages can reach upwards of $300.
When choosing a registered agent company, you should also monitor their reputation. Reputation is crucial because it tells you how well the company does business and if it satisfies customers. The first thing to do is to check reviews and whether they're above 4 stars.
National reputation is also important if you want to move states in the future. Registered agents need to have an active address within the state, so working with a company with a nationwide reach can make moving and expanding your business easier.
Data management is another factor to look for when considering a registered agent service. Data management is essential because the company will hold documents and ensure the state can have access whenever needed. Moreover, you can track your annual reports and keep everything in order.
Every company has a unique approach to data management, so it's important to make sure the company you work with has a system that you approve of. That said, most registered agent services offer data storage in basic packages, but some companies offer unique or more comprehensive options that are worth considering.
A good registered agent service also offers software options. While software options won't be found in cheap packages, well-rounded companies can make it worth your while if you're willing to pay extra money each year. For example, some registered agent companies will offer tax services for an additional fee.
When considering these software offerings, there are a few things you should look for. First and foremost, make sure the company offers data storage. Data storage is important for document storage and sharing. Another thing to look for is data transfer and cloud storage. Storing data online makes it easier for companies to send information to the LLC owner, the state, or anyone else that needs it.
You don't need a registered agent service to have all of these features, but it definitely helps.
How Much Do Registered Agents Cost?
Registered agents can cost between $0 and $300. The cost of a registered agent in Massachusetts depends on many factors. That said, the most important component of the cost is whether you work with a registered agent service or become the registered agent as the owner or someone else within the LLC.
If you go the route of becoming a registered agent yourself, the cost is $0. On the other hand, if you go with a registered agent company, it can vary between $50 and $300. In this case, basic packages tend to cost under $100 per year. These packages come with basic services, just the registered agent service, and nothing more.
The most expensive, $200-$300 packages come with different features on top of the registered agent service. For example, some companies will handle tax services, manage reports, store data, and more. It all depends on what you want.
What's the Best Registered Agent Service in Massachusetts?
There are dozens of registered agent services that operate in Massachusetts. That said, some companies are better than others, especially when it comes to registered agent services. If you're looking for the best option in Massachusetts, ZenBusiness
is the best option in almost every category.
ZenBusiness is the type of company that puts customers first. Three packages determine what you get from the company, and each one comes with different benefits. Still, even the most affordable option comes with a year of free tax assistance and an affordable registered agent package.
ZenBusiness also offers premium data storage options, next-level software, and assistance with tax services. If you're looking to start an LLC or leverage a registered agent, ZenBusiness is the best option to turn to.
Read our detailed guide
for more information on the best registered agent services.