Company Formation Services: Forming an LLC

Company Formation Services: Forming an LLC

Company Formation Services: Forming an LLC

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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:

  • ZenBusiness
  • Incfile
  • Rocket Lawyer
  • Northwest Registered Agent
  • LegalZoom
  • LegalNature
  • Incorporate.com
  • 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

Inc Authority offers free LLC or corporation setup, which is great for small businesses on a budget.

Plans Offered

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.

Incorporation Services by Inc Authority

Inc Authority will get your entity set-up quickly, easily and for FREE. Unlike other incorporation Learn More

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness leverages technology and automation to simplify the process of LLC and corporation filing. 

Plans Offered

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

Incfile offers free LLC filing, as well as a full suite of startup services like banking and bookkeeping.

Plans Offered

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:

  • LLC
  • S-corporation
  • C-corporation
  • Nonprofit

Rocket Lawyer

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.

Plans Offered

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
  • Contracts
  • Legal advice

Business Formation Services Rocket Lawyer Provides

Rocket Lawyer can help you create an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit.

RocketLawyer

Rocket Lawyer’s “Do-it-With-Help” online legal platform bundles customizable contracts with attorney services. It’s Learn More

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.

Plans Offered

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

LegalZoom goes deep in its legal business offerings, from business company formation to wills and trusts and attorney consultations.

Plans Offered

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

LegalNature sets you up for success when it comes to forming a new business, day-to-day operations, and HR management.

Plans Offered

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

Incorporate.com simplifies company formation services and offers ongoing assistance to keep you in good standing.

Plans Offered

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.

Incorporation Services by Incorporate.com

Incorporate your Small Business Today with Incorporate.com. They have incorporated more than 500,000 small businesses Learn More

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.

This article was originally written on June 23, 2020 and updated on September 1, 2020.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is a Senior Content Writer for Nav. She’s written books on business and travel, and blogs about small business on sites including Forbes and AllBusiness.

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