Should You Act as Your Company’s Resident Agent?

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One of the most frequently-asked questions I get in my business is about resident agent service – what it is, and when it’s required. In many cases people enquire about whether or not they can act as their own resident agent. The quick answer is “yes.” The longer answer is “it depends.”

To understand whether or not being your company’s resident agent is right for you, consider what a resident agent does. A resident agent is required in almost all states (currently New York and West Virginia are the exceptions). It is the public, accessible face of your business structure in the state (or states) where the company was formed or is registered to do business.

The main duty of a resident agent is to provide a physical place where legal documents may be served on the company during regular business hours. So, if privacy is an issue for you, acting as your own resident agent is a non-starter … as it leads creditors and everyone else directly to your door.

The other issue is accessibility. Having to be available during business hours to accept service can be inconvenient if your business causes you to travel frequently … or if you just like travelling. In a worse-case scenario, you could come back from a 1-month vacation to find out that your company had been served with legal papers in your absence, the time for responding to the complaint had long passed, and your company had lost the case before it began.

If neither scenario sounds particularly appealing or a good fit for your business model, then acting as your company’s resident agent probably isn’t the right choice for you. A better choice would be engaging a good resident agent service that will make sure to have a way of reaching you – cell phone, email, etc. This way, you’ll stay informed, no matter where your business takes you.

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