James D. Lynch
WHAT IS A "REGISTERED AGENT" AND WHEN DO YOU NEED ONE?
A registered agent is a business or individual who is designated to receive service of process and other official papers on behalf of a business that is a party in a lawsuit. In other words, if someone sues your business, your registered agent will receive the court documents. In most states if you form a corporation, LLC, or limited partnership, you are required to have a registered agent.
If you are forming your business in the state where you live, you can serve as your own registered agent. But if you are expanding your business to another state, someone else must be your registered agent in that state. State laws vary, but in general the registered agent must be a resident in the state where the company is formed or doing business.
Even if you form your business in your state of residence, there may be reasons for you to use a third-party registered agent. The name and street address of the registered agent are public record, and this may make it undesirable to use yourself as the registered agent (particularly if you have a home-based business).
Why should you choose a lawyer to serve as your company's registered agent? Because we can advise you on what you may have been served with and recommend to you the next steps to take in defending your rights. A non-lawyer registered agent cannot offer legal advice and can only recommend that you seek the advice of an attorney.
The duty of a registered agent is important. If you are served with a lawsuit, you have a limited time to respond. Failure to do so can result in a default judgment in favor of the other party.