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Should You Change Your Registered Agent?

As a business owner, should you change your registered agent?

As you probably know, every corporation is required to have a registered agent. This person (or entity, in some cases) is the one who accepts important legal documents (such as lawsuits) on the business' behalf. But after designating a particular person, company, or even yourself as your business' registered agent, you may face a need to change that designation.

Here are a few common scenarios when that might be necessary:

  • You don't want to do it yourself anymore. With limited resources, some small business owners name themselves as their company's registered agent. But because a registered agent must be available during business hours (when you're probably hard at work), and because a registered agent's name and address become part of the public record (P.O. boxes are not allowed), many business owners opt to designate a third party as their registered agent instead.
  • Your registered agent resigns. Registered agents have to deal with lawsuits, notices from the state, and even junk mail (since their addresses become public). If your agent doesn't want to deal with this anymore and resigns, you'll need to take action; in Delaware, for example, a new registered agent must be named within 30 days after the prior agent files a Certificate of Resignation with Delaware's Secretary of State.
  • Your former registered agent is unresponsive, unreliable, or not available during business hours. If you can never get a hold of your agent during the day, or if your agent turns out to be untrustworthy, it may be time to find someone else who can fulfill the duties of the job. You don't want to be punished for an irresponsible agent's lack of action or urgency, especially if your business is being sued.
  • You're changing lawyers or accountants, and that person was your agent. There are many advantages to having an experienced business lawyer or accountant serve as your registered agent: For example, it's probably better for your employees' morale if lawsuits are sent to another office instead of your place of business. But if you're switching lawyers or accountants, remember to change your registered agent designation too.

Changing your business' registered agent may seem like a tedious chore, but you may need to do it in some circumstances. To learn more about the legal ins and outs of setting up a small business, head over to FindLaw's section on Incorporation and Legal Structures.

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