When first starting a business, you have many decisions to make. One of those decisions? What sort of business structure you choose. This step of your business setup is critical because it will impact things like your personal liability for your business as well as how you file and pay your taxes.
One business structure to consider is the limited liability company. There are many perks to operating as an LLC, which we’ll go into shortly. But in the event you don’t have the time or energy involved in filing the paperwork required to form an LLC, you also have the option to hire a company formation service.
The Top 8 LLC Formation Services
In this article, we’ll look at how and why you might want to form an LLC, and we will examine several LLC formation services, including:
- Rocket Lawyer
- Northwest Registered Agent
- Inc Authority
Additional Company Formation Options
Before we look at these company formation services, let’s talk about your other options when it comes to business structures.
If you take no action to form a different structure, your company will be, by default, a sole proprietorship. That means it’s an individually-owned entity, and there’s nothing legally separating it from you as the owner. If you have a business partner, you’d default to a partnership.
(Learn more about the LLC vs. sole proprietor business structure.)
You could also elect to operate as a corporation. This provides separation from you personally and the business, meaning if your business had debts it couldn’t pay or was sued, your personal assets couldn’t be taken to cover the business debts. There are two types of corporations: the S-corporation and the C-corporation. The S-corp is the most popular type of corporation, especially for small businesses. It offers what is called passthrough taxes, which means that your business pays no taxes, and you pay taxes on profits on your personal income tax return.
Your business may be a nonprofit if it is a qualifying charitable organization. In that case, you’ll be eligible for tax exemptions.
But this article is about filing as an LLC. With flexible tax options (an LLC can be taxed as a disregarded entity if you’re the only member, a limited liability partnership, or an S- or C-corp) and asset protection, the LLC is a wise choice for many businesses. Also, foreign companies and foreign investors prefer the LLC because it is open to owners living in another country.
Best LLC Formation & Incorporation Services of 2020 Reviewed
You can complete registration for your LLC or corporation on your own through your state’s Secretary of State department, enlist the help of an attorney, or you also have the option to hire a registered agent service who will simplify and expedite the process. Here are the best company formation services we have found.
Inc Authority offers free LLC or corporation setup, which is great for small businesses on a budget.
The setup services are 100% free, though you will pay the Secretary of State fees and postage. There are, presumably, fees for additional services, though those aren’t posted on its site.
Features and Benefits of Inc Authority
Inc Authority will file your business structure paperwork on your behalf and then give you one year of registered agent service and free Compliance Coach access.
Business Formation Services Inc Authority Provides
Inc Authority can assist with both LLCs and corporations.
ZenBusiness leverages technology and automation to simplify the process of LLC and corporation filing.
ZenBusiness offers three levels of service. The Starter plan, at $49 a year, provides standard filing service (2-3 weeks to get your business entity filed), a registered agent, and an operating agreement. The Pro plan offers expedited filing service, with a turnaround time of 5-8 business days, as well as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and Worry Free Guarantee. The cost for this plan is $179 a year.
The Premium plan, at $299 a year, provides rush filing service (2-4 day turnaround), a business domain name, and a business website.
All packages have an additional state fee, which varies, depending on what your state charges.
Features and Benefits of ZenBusiness
ZenBusiness offers filing services in all 50 states plus Washington D.C. Its Worry Free Guarantee compliance service covers your annual filing and two yearly amendments, as well as other state requirements to keep your company compliant.
Business Formation Services ZenBusiness Provides
ZenBusiness provides both LLC and corporation registration services.
Incfile offers free LLC filing, as well as a full suite of startup services like banking and bookkeeping.
Incfile offers three tiers of service, and pricing varies depending on the state you’re in. The prices here are for forming an LLC in California, and serve only as an example of what you might pay.
The Silver package charges nothing beyond the state fee for preparing and filing the articles of organization or incorporation documents. You also get unlimited name searches and free registered agent searches for a year. The fee is $75.
The Gold package includes all of the above plus an EIN Business Tax Number, IRS Form 2553, operating agreement, and several business services like a business bank account and business tax consultation. The fee is $149 + the state fee (in the case of California, $75).
The Platinum package, at $374, also offers business contract templates, expedited delivery via FedEx, and a domain name and business email.
Features and Benefits of incfile
In addition to offering a wide range of company formation services, incfile has a robust learning center that can educate you on starting a business, choosing the right business structure, and growing your business.
Business Formation Services incfile Provides
Incfile can help you set up:
Rocket Lawyer goes beyond helping you set up a business entity; the company offers a variety of legal services like creating a contract or filing a trademark application.
You don’t have to sign up for a plan to use Rocket Lawyer’s services; you can pay a la carte for things like legal documents ($39.99), a 30-minute legal consultation ($59.99), or incorporation filing ($99.99 + state fees). You can also become a member for $39.99 a month and get most of these services included or at a steep discount.
Features and Benefits of Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer provides a comprehensive suite of services to help you with many aspects of your business, including:
- Business formation
- Trademarks and patents
- Legal advice
Business Formation Services Rocket Lawyer Provides
Rocket Lawyer can help you create an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit.
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest strives to provide over-the-top customer service while helping customers file an LLC, get a certificate of incorporation, create legal forms, or get registered agent services.
There are no plans at Northwest. You pay for the services you need. To incorporate or form an LLC, the fee is $225 plus state fees. Registered agent services are $125. And there are a variety of free forms available on the site for corporations and LLCs.
Features and Benefits of Northwest
Beyond registered agent services, Northwest offers a slate of business services, including:
- Mail forwarding
- Virtual office
- Legal forms
Business Formation Services Northwest Provides
Northwest can help you form an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit, and can provide registered agent services to keep you compliant in your state.
LegalZoom goes deep in its legal business offerings, from business company formation to wills and trusts and attorney consultations.
There are no plans. Instead, you pay for each service you need. Here are some examples:
- LLC formation starts at $79 plus filing fees
- Trademark registration starts at $199 plus federal filing fees
- Business Advisory Plan starts at $31.25 a month
Features and Benefits of LegalZoom
LegalZoom is a great partner to have beyond your initial business startup needs. It can help with:
- Trademarks and patents
- Nondisclosure agreements
- Workplace benefits
- Legal advice
Business Formation Services LegalZoom Provides
LegalZoom can help you file an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit. It can also help set up a Doing Business As (DBA) for your company and aid with business compliance.
LegalNature sets you up for success when it comes to forming a new business, day-to-day operations, and HR management.
LegalNature has a few options. If you only need to form an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit, you’ll pay a minimum of $40. If you also want access to its library of legal documents, you can choose either the Standard plan at $84 a year or the Professional plan at $499 a year. You also have the option to pay per document, from $34.95 to $78.95.
Features and Benefits of LegalNature
LegalNature has a wealth of resources for businesses, including human resources templates and contracts and property documents.
Business Formation Services LegalNature Provides
LegalNature is able to assist with LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits.
Incorporate.com simplifies company formation services and offers ongoing assistance to keep you in good standing.
Pricing is based on the state you’re forming a business in and may be as low as $79 plus state fees. You can also upgrade to The Essentials or The Works plan, which each offer additional services like annual report preparation and filing and an EIN.
Features and Benefits of Incorporate.com
This is a no-nonsense, no-frills company formation services business that will quickly help you choose the best business structure and support you through the life of your business.
Business Formation Services Incorporate.com Provides
Incorporate.com can help you determine whether an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit is the best fit.
Pros & Cons To Using Business Company Formation Services
Let’s look at both the benefits and drawbacks of hiring a business company formation service.
Pros to Business Company Formation Services
Certainly, it is possible for you to register your business as an LLC or a corporation on your own. But sometimes it can take a little digging to figure out what forms to fill out and what to pay. Also, you’ll need to stay on top of annual requirements: sometimes you need to pay a fee or file an annual report. Working with a company that’s an expert in this field ensures you get it done right the first time.
Company formation services save you time, which is critical in the business startup phase. And while you’ll pay a little for these services, becoming an LLC or corporation could save you on your income taxes.
Cons to Business Company Formation Services
So what drawbacks, if any, are there? Not many, actually. Paying a few hundred dollars for your business filing may not be in your budget, so if that’s the case, you may prefer to do the legwork to file it yourself.
Nav’s Final Word: Company Formation Services
In running a business, it makes a lot of sense to delegate tasks that you’re not an expert in. Hiring a company formation service can expedite your LLC registration and ensure that you’re compliant with the rules in your state.