Top 10 LLC Formation Sites 2020
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Our top 10 list of the best online LLC formation services available in 2020. We summarize each of the 10 formation services, highlighting the pros and cons so our readers can make an informed decision on the LLC service that best fits their needs.
#3 Inc Authority
#4 Swyft Filings
#6 Rocket Lawyer
#7 Northwest Registered Agent
At one point, legal services used to cost companies thousands to maintain annually. Nowadays, those very services can be attained inexpensively and come with a lot more versatility. These services are modernized with the inclusion of digital processing.
Legal service providers on the internet offer small businesses an ability to file documents, fulfill legal requirements, and maintain compliance, when required, at budget-friendly rates. Whether it involves private attorney networks or services that are membership-based, this industry has no shortages of competition.
Small businesses looking to spend less on legal costs will find relief using such providers. Just ensure that the one you sign up with is reputable. Seek out online providers that offer services you will actually use – ones who provide competitive rates and have quick processing times. If legal resources for educational purposes are something, they give you access to, even better.
The following top 10 list presents the leading providers of online business formation services and our favorites for 2020.
#1 ZenBusiness: The leader in pricing and worry-free services.
ZenBusiness Website ⇨
✔ Rates: formation packages begin at $49.
✔ Sign-Up Process: choose a plan, the state you reside in, and your entity.
✔ Refund Policy: completely refundable (expenses excluded).
ZenBusiness utilizes automated processes and technology, providing you with a quick and affordable way of forming your business and managing it. The services they provide come at discounted prices. They offer yearly package plans and add-ons. You can obtain support from experts, search for names, and file your business without paying anything extra. You also have the option to use registered agent services for $119 annually, which serves as a dedicated office, allowing you to receive federal, legal, and state notices. ZenBusiness offers a Worry-Free Guarantee ($119 annually), which helps you file reports/taxes on time. ZenBusiness has been featured on Fortune, the New York Times, TechCrunch, and Yahoo Finance. There is a complementary timing and fee estimator tool on their website, which helps you bypass surprises when it comes to deadlines, delays, and fees. ZenBusiness does not charge for their basic services, but you can upgrade to a premium package for thorough coverage if desired. Read More
✔ Never any hidden fees.
✔ Competitive rates.
✔ Automatic technology simplifies things.
✘ Once the paperwork is sent, changes or cancellations are not possible.
✘ Mistake-free guarantees are not offered.
#2 IncFile: No hidden fees or contracts.
IncFile Website ⇨
✔ Rates: No hidden costs; prices begin at $0.
✔ Sign-Up Process: Select state and formation type.
✔ Refund Policy: The cancellation fee is $30.
IncFile was called one of the best entrepreneurial businesses in the USA by Entrepreneur Magazine this past year. The expectations people have of this company are regularly met. The lack of state fees are a great starting point, and things get even better from there. Whether you are forming a non-profit, corporation, S-corporation, or LLC, IncFile can help you. Each plan comes with a complimentary consultation for business taxes, digital order tracking, registered agent services (free for the first year), article filing, and name verification. Further, they offer a lifetime promise for customer support, processing within one business day, and alerts for life. That way, you won’t have to worry about missing filing dates. Visit our LegalZoom vs Incfile review for a comparison.
If this is all new to you, IncFile will provide you with a business checklist that you can use to navigate your way through the process. They also offer start-up guides and a list of requirements necessary for a business license. This transparent service helps you understand what is happening when your deadlines are, and when you can expect certain things to occur. Read more on Incfile.
✔ Documentation can be accessed online.
✔ Lifetime customer support and alerts.
✔ Reasonable price.
✘ Extra features must be paid for.
✘ Less information is available for businesses that are already established.
#4 Swyft Filings: Inexpensive and fast legal services within your state.
Swyft Filings Website ⇨
✔ Rates: Beginning at $49.
✔ Sign-Up Process: Choose a plan, then pay for it. You’ll be ready to go from there!
✔ Refund Policy: Complete satisfaction guarantee.
Swyft Filings offers various legal services, and they do for lower rates than what lawyers charge. Their basic plan is just under $50 and includes Articles of Organization preparation, filing documentation with the Secretary of State, a free organizer statement, digital access to incorporation documentation, and customer support for life via email or phone. Additionally, you get a half-hour consultation to go over your business taxes with a legal representative, as well as ComplianceGuard alerts for your company. This remarkable service list would rip through your budget if you were to handle them through traditional means. There are plans available that include more advanced services, including the acquisition of a federal number (aka a tax ID), personalized operating agreements for your LLC, personalized ranking resolutions, digital state document delivery, a personalized digital corporation kit, and business website/web hosting packages for free.
✔ Expedited services are available.
✔ Satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
✔ An LLC or corporation can be formed for just $49.
✘ The company hasn’t been around for very long (since 2012).
✘ Registered agent services aren’t included in the LLC formation packages.
#5 MyCorporation: Knowledgeable and friendly legal assistants.
MyCorporation Website ⇨
✔ Rates: Beginning at $99.
✔ Sign-Up Process: Select a plan and fill in the required information.
✔ Refund Policy: There isn’t one.
Do you require some assistance filing your legal documentation? Perhaps you are in the midst of planning the formation of your business and are learning about corporation types (and the benefits that come with them). Whatever your process entails, My Corporation can help simplify and expedite things for you. This company offers legal services that can accommodate all sorts of business needs, including the work involved with starting a company. This may entail filing the necessary paperwork for stock certificates, sample minutes, bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and more. They can even help you check to see if a company name is available.
My Corporation offers a number of unique features that may be beneficial to a business. You will appreciate all of the secure storage space they provide you with to host sensitive documents online. They will handle administrative work, such as coordinating business activities, updating contact info, and reporting yearly business locations. An automatic renewal makes this vital task – tedious as they may be – one less headache to worry about. My Corporation has a lot to offer emerging businesses, allowing business owners to focus on things that matter to them.
✔ More than two decades’ worth of experience and over 1 million customers served.
✔ Insightful suggestions for businesses that are new or are in the process of forming.
✔ BBB rating of A+.
✘ The basic plan doesn’t come with very much.
✘ The basic plan doesn’t include registered agent services.
#6 Rocket Lawyer: Business formations and ongoing legal services.
Rocket Lawyer Website ⇨
✔ Rates: Beginning at $39.99 monthly.
✔ Sign-Up Process: Get advice and create legal documents.
✔ Refund Policy: Free trial (seven days)
Rocket Lawyer ads a contemporary spin to traditional legal services. Rather than companies being overwhelmed by various legal requirements and matters, Rocket Lawyer provides a user-friendly and effective system that allows people to handle legal requirements by themselves. Whether that entails beginning an LLC, incorporating a company, or drafting business contracts that are legally binding (such as Release of Liability form or non-disclosure agreement). Rocket Lawyer endeavors to make things as simple as possible.
The best part is that you’ll be able to do each one of these things by yourself. There are a couple of benefits to this – to start with; you will obtain your documentation right away. Once you complete the information required, these documents get prepared on site. You’ll be able to download, print, or share them immediately. That is quite an impressive turnaround time. Secondly, you’ll wind up paying significantly less for these services through Rocket Lawyer than you would through traditional ways. Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to perform work using a modern approach.
✔ You’ll have legal protection courtesy of Document Defense.
✔ Reliable answers quickly from attorneys on-call.
✔ Instant creation of legal documents.
✘ DIY filing of legal documents.
✘ No lawyers or information are available.
#7 Northwest Registered Agent: Registered Agent specialists, Privacy by Default..
Northwest Registered Agent Website ⇨
✔ Rates: $225.
✔ Sign-Up Process: Choose the type of entity, the state you reside in and complete the form.
✔ Refund Policy: Completely refundable (expenses exempted).
Northwest Registered Agent prides itself on explaining things without jargon. They offer robust data security, complete privacy, and corporate guides. They endeavor to simplify business matters for everyone – this includes international business founders who wish to file paperwork to start a business based in the USA.
They can help you complete the paperwork you’re unfamiliar with, and help get your company rolling without administrative work tying up your time. They offer a beneficial service for both existing and new businesses to help form a corporation, non-profit, or LLC. They can even help with annual reporting duties. If Northwest Registered Agent is used to register a company, then you’ll get a year’s worth of registered agent service at no charge. Every service provided is separately priced, and they don’t offer any subscription plans. The benefit here is that you don’t need to pay for services that you won’t use.
The customer service offered by Northwest Registered Agent is excellent. They service those who reside in the USA, as well as international business owners who wish to have an American-based LLC opened up. The company’s customer support agents can be contacted by email or phone. On average, they reply to messages within one business day.
✔ When your company is formed with Northwest Registered Agent, you get a year’s worth of registered agent service for free.
✔ Top-notch customer service offered by an in-house staff of professionals.
✔ This small business services other small businesses.
✘ Support unavailable for partnerships and sole proprietorships.
✘ No customer reviews (for example, lack of reviews on Trustpilot).
#8 Nolo: Affordable professional lawyers for everyone.
Nolo Website ⇨
✔ Rates: Beginning at $99.
✔ Sign-Up Process: You’ll be matched with a suitable attorney once you explain your case.
✔ Refund Policy: None.
There are no shortages of legal service providers to choose from who can file your legal documents, check business names, and form an LLC on your behalf. Nolo ups the ante by connecting you with legal experts specializing in what your needs are. You will begin by describing your business situation (as well as your needs) to a professional. From there, you’ll be matched up by Nolo with a dedicated lawyer who will be able to work on your case. This company is adept at connecting companies with local lawyers who specialize in specific legalities.
Further, Nolo has a slew of educational tools and online resources you can access, which includes an extensive library of legal articles. Each one of them is written in English and comprehensively explain processes, legal requirements, and terms. As such, you can be educated and find out understand what is expected of you, sans the exorbitant fees lawyers normally charge.
✔ Almost 50 years of being a legal authority.
✔ Their network is comprised of 30,000 different local attorneys.
✔ DIY legal filing.
✘ Some might find the self-help aspect of these services a bit overwhelming.
✘ Formation services offered or not performed in-house.
#9 CorpNet: Quick turnaround and outstanding customer service.
CorpNet Website ⇨
✔ Rates: Beginning at $79.
✔ Sign-Up Process: Pick your business structure and then choose your state.
✔ Refund Policy: Satisfaction completely guaranteed.
A group of small business entrepreneurs and advocates founded CorpNet, and that’s why many small businesses feel comfortable using them as the go-to provider of legal services. More than 500,000 small businesses started their companies with the assistance of CorpNet’s inexpensive and simple-to-understand guidance. Whether you wish to have an LLC formed, maintain your existing business, or incorporate one, CorpNet can bring these plans to fruition for you. You get upfront pricing, top-notch customer service, and a satisfaction guarantee.
Several services CorpNet provides include LLC formation, sole proprietorship DBA filing, and registration services with revenue departments in your state. One of CorpNet’s best features is their checklist new businesses can use, which tells them what they must know when launching a business. This includes getting a federal number for tax ID purposes.
✔ Proactive BizAlerts send filing and due date reminders.
✔ Secure, simple, mobile-friendly.
✔ On-site file storage.
✔ Document preparation is available 24/7.
✘ Some might find the self-help aspect of these services a bit overwhelming.
✘ Formation services offered or not performed in-house.
#10 LegalZoom: A recognized brand.
LegalZoom Website ⇨
✔ Rates: Begin at just under $100. However, there are extra charges for various required services, which tend to add up. For instance, they charge $220 for expedited processing and $150 annually for registered agent service.
LegalZoom was developed to be an all-in-one online solution for the legal needs small businesses have. Companies can opt to pay a fixed rate that is quite low for all kinds of legal services. Launched in 2001, this company has assisted more than 4 million different businesses, and it helped countless consumers find solutions to their legal issues.
LegalZoom can help you do the following:
- Begin a business or file paperwork to form one.
- Create personal legal documentation, which includes an e-signature.
- Apply for either copyright protection or a patent; or have a trademark registered.
- Speak with an attorney and have legal documentation assessed by them, too.
- Obtain tax advice for your business.
- Their clientele is mostly small businesses who lack their legal departments and lawyers.
✔ A recognized brand.
✘ Not cheap in comparison to other LLC formation companies.
✘ Negative user reviews.
What is a Single-Member LLC?
Single-member LLCs are a viable alternative to establishing your business as a sole proprietorship.
Sole proprietors only work for themselves. As a result, there aren’t any rules or fees applicable to sole proprietorships, although there are a few requirements you need to consider if you want to start hiring employees. Since the proprietor and the business are legally considered to be the same, such a business structure could place the proprietor’s assets at risk in case the business falls into financial woes.
To counter this risk, you can set up a single-member LLC, of which you are the sole owner. This arrangement protects your personal assets in case the business goes bankrupt.
You can also add the ‘LLC’ term to the name of your business, protect your assets and limit your liabilities in case the business fails to make proper payments or has a lawsuit filed against it.
However, this arrangement is not without its disadvantages. You have to register your LLC with state authorities, ensure that your business complies with applicable laws and regulations, and pay the annual LLC registration fees as well.
How Do The Owners of a Single-Member LLC Get Paid?
Owners of a single-member LLCs don’t draw a salary or get paid any wages. Instead, they are entitled to withdraw the money in the LLC’s account at their discretion.
It is called ‘Owner’s draw’. The owner of a single-member LLC can simply write a check for themselves or transfer money from their LLC’s account into their personal account. It’s that simple!
How Are Owners of a Single-Member LLC Taxed?
As per the IRS, a single-member LLC is treated similar to a sole proprietorship by default. Your LLC is considered to be a ‘disregarded entity’ in the eyes of the IRS. The LLC is not required to pay any income tax. Instead, its profits & losses get passed on to the owner.
In simple terms, single-member LLC owners don’t need to file any extra federal tax returns. Since they’re the sole owner of the business, the total income earned by the LLC is treated as their income in their tax filings. However, your state might have different tax filing regulations for LLCs. Do go through your state’s laws regarding this subject.
However, owners can also opt for their LLC to get taxed like a corporation. In such cases, the owners are considered to be an employee. They can pay themselves through the LLC’s payroll if they choose to do so.
While this method will lower your self-employment taxes, you’ll also have to spend more time buried in paperwork during tax season. Therefore, we recommend that you consult your accountant to learn more about this route before you make a decision.
What Are Online Legal Services?
Online legal service platforms are modern alternatives to traditional law firms. Online legal service websites help you contact independent law practitioners who can provide you with legal services, should the need arise. In case you do not wish to engage the services of a personal attorney for your business requirements, these platforms can connect you with qualified experts who can send in your license applications, draft contracts, or submit important documents without charging the exorbitant fees or long-term commitment typically demanded by traditional law firms. These services are useful for people who run small businesses, although these platforms also provide services for handling personal legal issues.
How Much Does It Cost To Get An LLC Formed Online?
Online legal services tend to differ greatly in their pricing, which varies from plan to plan. Each plan comes with a defined set of legal services that can be customized as per one’s business requirements. For instance, plans that include registered agent services tend to be costlier than others. However, it is an important service that’s worth every penny as most businesses require registered agents to carry out their operations legally.
Plans that offer standard limited liability company legal services tend to cost anywhere between $80 to $150 plus the state fee. Incorporation formation plans are sometimes more expensive.
How Do Online Legal Services Work?
It’s a fairly simple process. Once you submit a form detailing the services that you require, a professional will be assigned to your case with whom you can discuss other important details. They will then research, complete & submit the documents on your behalf. Alternatively, they will also provide you with the necessary guidance and template forms if you’d like to handle it yourself. This process may vary depending on what services you’re hiring them for.
However, you will be able to minimize your costs and efforts by opting for online legal services, either by availing step-by-step guidance for expediting the process or by transferring the task to be handled by an expert.
What Services Do Legal Services Platforms Provide?
Most legal services platforms seek to fulfill the needs of emerging or small businesses. Their services include filing LLCs, filling permit applications, trademark registration, research into bylaws, and drafting contracts.
However, other online legal services platforms also offer support with personal legal issues. They can connect you to experts specializing in subjects like living wills, power of attorney, immigration issues, and mortgage agreements.
LLC vs. Corporation
What Is an S Corp, C Corp, and LLC?
Among the first decisions that an entrepreneur has to make is whether to start an LLC or a C Corp. You may have heard about ‘S Corporation’ as well, although it isn’t really a separate business type. If you’re looking for information about these business entities, here’s all you need to know:
Business owners often prefer a limited liability company structure since it insulates them from financial downturns in the business while also providing them with flexibility regarding management and taxation. An LLC may be taxed as a multi-proprietorship or a sole-proprietorship; however, business owners are exempt from corporate tax, which allows them to safeguard their personal banking accounts. LLC owners are considered to be self-employed individuals and pay taxes accordingly. However, they are not allowed to issue stocks. Their businesses aren’t eligible for international recognition either. They don’t need to pay double tax, meaning that the CEO only has to shell out for personal taxes – an arrangement that helps them skip complicated paperwork and save precious time.
A corporation happens to be a company that’s also a separate legal entity. The ownership lies with the shareholders, who may either be the founders or other individual investors. It is similar to an LLC in that the business is completely separate from the shareholders’ personal assets and personal liabilities. However, shareholders are subject to double taxation since C Corporations are taxed as separate entities. This means the income gets taxed at both the organizational and investor level. This structure enables businesses to make money or develop international partnerships with the help of investor funds. A corporation needs to have a Board of Directors. They also have more reporting and bookkeeping requirements compared to LLCs.
Small business corporations aren’t actually a separate business type – it only exists for tax classification purposes of the IRS. While businesses are officially either C Corporations or LLCs, some of them may also be eligible for S Corporation status. To qualify for this, it needs to be a US-based business, have less than one hundred members, and have only a single class of shareholders. In S Corporations, taxes need not be paid on the profits, thus preventing double taxation that is applicable for C Corporation shareholders. Taxation only takes place at the individual level. Reporting requirements are also less stringent compared to traditional C Corporations. However, S Corporations are also subject to extra scrutiny from IRS authorities and might not be great for firms looking to attract venture capitalists.
What’s the Best Legal Services Platform for Your Needs?
Firstly, you need to make a decision about how involved you would like to be in the legal affairs of your company. Some platforms provide templates and legal forms that you can fill out on your own. They will also give you the necessary guidance, instructions, and edits needed for the documents to be approved.
Other legal services will handle the documentation part completely for you. For more important projects and for those requiring extensive field research, like copyright and patent filing, we recommend going for providers who are specialists in their respective fields and aware of the intricacies related to the subject at hand. People launching a business for the first time should seek experts who have a strong understanding of taxation, licensing, local, and state laws.
Additionally, you must also ensure that the legal service provider you hire is trustworthy. Regardless of your needs, there’s a high chance that you will be sharing highly sensitive information regarding your business. It is important to check out the provider’s reputation and reviews. If the company’s website has a professional design, includes legitimate contact information, and has a strong social media presence, it is a sign that it’s a genuine legal service provider.
Is A Legal Services Platform Right for Your Business?
Firstly, legal services sites can help you launch your business properly without making any errors. Legal procedures for activities like LLC formation, permit and license applications, and research into bylaws are all complicated. Legal service sites can help you overcome many hassles that normally stall the entire process and distract your attention from the plan. They can help you avoid accidental legal violations and fines. They are also more affordable compared to personal attorneys and will take care of all legal documentation requirements, thus helping you focus solely on your business and your vision for it.
How to Protect Your Personal Finances From Business Risks
According to author and attorney Mark Kohler, a writer with Entrepreneur.com, there are some important steps business owners can take to protect personal assests from business risk.
(Please keep in mind, our website does not give legal advise, we are paraphrasing an article from the online magazine Entrepreneur.)
Many small business owners are woefully unaware of how they can protect their personal wealth. Most of them fall prey to expensive asset protection policies, which have a poor track record in delivering when they’re required. Others simply purchase more insurance and hope that they’ll never run into an accident or a lawsuit.
Asset protection deals with protecting the business owner’s personal assets from being exposed to their business liabilities, something that’s dangerous for both the business and its owner.
Mr. Kohler recalled in his article a recent case of his where he had a small business owner client who called him and was worried because one of his customers had fallen down while entering his office and broken his arm in the process. However, he had been prepared for such scenarios beforehand, which helped him avoid being sued for personal liability. Had he not opted for such strategies, he could have lost his house or other personal assets in the resulting lawsuit.
Here are 4 strategies Mark Kohler suggested business owners use for protecting their personal wealth in case their business is required to pay damages that threaten to bankrupt it:
- Adopt the right business structure
While sole proprietorships may make sense when you start out, it isn’t the best way to go if you want to protect your personal assets from your business liabilities. A sole proprietorship structure means that the owner’s personal assets and wealth, like his properties, investments, and house may be used for paying off business liabilities.
Using a limited liability company or LLC structure will give you ample protection in case a lawsuit gets filed against you. For instance, my client’s business structure had two layers to it. The business was operated as a corporation with the building being held by an LLC. As a result, the corporation became the business named in the lawsuit and the LLC became the entity that owned it. Since there were 2 entities, the customer couldn’t file a suit against my client’s personal assets.
- Keep your personal and business finances separate
Although you may have set your business up as a separate entity, the documentation alone will not suffice to rescue you from potential lawsuits. Your business must also have a separate bank account. Important documents should only use its name and the properties should be registered in the company’s name. Additionally, you should also maintain annual minutes in your corporate book.
Don’t think that filing the LLC’s Articles of Association on the official website or via an online incorporation service is all you have to do. You must also possess the documents specified for your business entity structure and follow all applicable annual maintenance procedures. You should hold meetings, maintain minutes, and pay prescribed fees as well. For instance, my client had rock-solid company documents, which confirmed that they were complying with all internal and state regulations. This helped us remove the need to create paperwork from scratch.
- Maintain proof that you are a credible business owner
Creditors are notorious for attacking the personal assets of business owners when they are found to have acted fraudulently or negligently. For example, having documents to prove that the business had a snow & ice removal procedure in place and that there were adequate warnings about the entrance being slippery, posted for the benefit of his customers. If you prove that you took all steps to ensure your customers weren’t affected adversely, the judge might be inclined to rule in your favor.
- Purchase the right amount of insurance
Don’t go for asset protection policies, especially if they recommend hiding your assets or using an entity to avoid insurance payments. A business cannot survive for long without insurance coverage, which is an expense that must be accounted for from the beginning. It ensures that your personal assets are never in danger of having to compensate for issues related to your business.
Ensure you purchase the right insurance policy. The best insurance policy for you may differ depending on what you own – a retail store, professional practice, or a rental property. For example, someone having two insurance providers – one for his business and the other for his building. Always have a comprehensive annual review done with your insurance agent and ask him to give his recommendations for the best policies and options that could work in your favor.
Although these were very simple examples, the message is quite clear. The steps mentioned here to protect one’s assets were affordable, straightforward, and simple. It’s probably a good idea to implement these steps at the earliest and consult a licensed attorney with a specialization in business planning and asset protection. This will ensure that your personal financial assets are not targeted in case your business goes south.
How to Protect Your Assests…, Investopedia
Note: This article and information on our website is for general information purposes only, this information is not tax advice. Tax rules often change regarding the location and industry of a business. Consult with a CPA or tax advisor.
Note: The LLC formation services listed on our website are not law firms. They are document filing services.
Our website, Top 10 LLC Formation Sites does not offer legal or tax advice. We recommend you find a licensed tax or law professional for assistance on these topics.