Registered agents are vital components of your company. They keep your business in-line with state laws and regulations while also ensuring your public relations with that state aren't going down the gutters. That said, sometimes you need to swap your agent out for a new one, whether the reason is that your current one isn't pulling their weight or that your company is moving states. But how do you change your registered agent? Well, let's find out. We're here to tell you all about how to file a change of agent form and switch your registered agent! But enough preamble, let's dive right into it!
Before you jump in, there are several things you'll want to have laid out. For starters, evaluate the performance of your current registered agent. Some warning signs that your agent isn't reliable include wonky hours of operation, slow response times, and a substandard knowledge of the policies set out by the government that your company needs to adhere to.
Other signs you should swap your agent out include if you plan to move your business to a new state where your current agent can't help you or if you are unsure about the long-term business relationship you have with your agent. For example, if you hand agent duties off to your lawyer and then swap law firms, your lawyer will drop the agent responsibilities like a giant brick. In turn, you will end up scrambling to find a replacement and put your business in jeopardy in the process.
You'll also want to know the exact candidate you want to become your new agent before you file the form to change agents. The qualifications for someone getting recognized as an agent include them being 18 or older and available during normal business hours (9 am-5 pm). Also, the agent needs to have some sort of location with a physical address where they can get mailed the relevant documents.
Other than that, however, there are few limits on who you can appoint. You can appoint anyone from your best friend to your mom as long as they're willing and meet the requirements. If need be, you can even be your registered agent!
That said, remember that the address of your registered agent will get slapped onto the public record. So if you don't want your family home getting swarmed with junk mail or even malicious miscreants, it's best to pick somewhere else.
Another option is to contract a registered agent service to do the job for you. They come with added benefits too, like reminders regarding specific documents and skilled customer support teams that will guide you through any inquiries you have.
Once you've got a game plan set up, it's time to check with your state to see what forms you need to fill out. You can either do this by swinging by your state's website or calling up the Secretary of State office in your state and asking what you need to do to move the process along.
It's also worth noting that different states have fees attached to filing these documents. For example, California charges $20 for the initial filing and any subsequent ones, in addition to bonus fees regarding copies. Arkansas, on the other hand, requires you to pony up a total of $0 when you file your change agent form.
These costs will also change due to external factors. For example, if your company ends up falling out of favor with the state you're trying to get a new registered agent for, your fees will go up.
If you don't want the hassle of all this paperwork, then you'll want to consider the registered agent service again. This is because many of these services will handle the paperwork for you, leaving you free to concentrate on the day-to-day aspects of your company.
Once the forms are in, you'll need to wait about 2-3 weeks for the change to process. Many states offer options to speed this up, but your fees risk going into the hundreds or even thousands if you choose that path.
After that, make sure to notify your old registered agent that their services are no longer needed. Otherwise, they can keep billing you and have the legal defense that they were never notified that you switched, costing you even more money.
We know, this all sounds like a lot of hassle. So why go through with it?
Well, for starters, a registered agent is vital to ensuring your company keeps a good relationship with the state(s) you're operating in. Skip on the agent, and you'll become subject to several penalties as a result (like in Florida, you have to pay the state $500 a year if you don't have an agent, and cough up an additional $1000 every time they request you to get one and you don't).
Registered agents are also invaluable if you pride keeping your personal and business life separate. With no agent, the state will deliver all pertinent papers to you directly, meaning you could get served with lawsuits in the middle of dinner or get inundated with junk mail (since your address is public now, rather than a separate agent/agency).
Finally, without an agent, certain important documents your business needs to see will get withheld or even determined outside your control. Going back to the lawsuit example, if your business makes no response to the suit, the court can make a judgment without hearing your side of the case, leaving you with a gargantuan bill you didn't even get to protest.
And there you have it! Now that you know how to file a change of agent form, you're ready to get out there and find the perfect agent for you! Plus, if you have more questions about registered agents and how they work, feel free to check out the other posts on our blog!