Before you can form a limited liability company (LLC) in the state of Washington, you need to appoint an official point of contact so that the state and those with legal notices can get in touch with your business. That person (or company) is called a registered agent. This article will tell you what a registered agent is, their duties, and the requirements to be one.
What is a Washington Registered Agent?
The term “registered agent” refers to an individual or business that is designated by the LLC to receive important legal documents and official state correspondence on behalf of the company. This position is necessary to ensure that the correct people within an LLC are notified in person when there are time-sensitive events, such as service of process for lawsuits. The agent also receives important notices from the state, such as garnishment notices against employees, notices of the annual report due dates, and tax notices.
Who can be a Registered Agent in Washington?
According to state of Washington law, the company must continuously maintain a registered agent for service of process in Washington (RCW 25.15.021(1) and 23.95.405(1)). The registered agent may be:
- a commercial registered agent (no address required) that has filed a commercial-registered-agent listing statement and is in the business of acting as a registered agent in the state (RCW 23.95.420);
- a noncommercial registered agent (with an address); or
- the title of an office or other position within the LLC (along with an address where service of process, notices, and demands are to be sent) (RCW 23.95.415).
Should you be your own Washington Registered Agent?
It’s not always wise. Although it may seem like the simplest and cheapest option is to be your own registered agent, there are some compelling reasons to instead use a registered agent service, such as:
- Availability – A registered agent needs to generally be available at the principal address during normal business hours. This makes it difficult to leave the office to meet up with potential clients and handle other obligations outside the office.
- Avoiding Embarrassment – If you serve as your own registered agent and a lawsuit is filed against the business, you could have legal papers served to you at your office in front of clients. That could hurt business.
- Compliance Reminders – Some registered agent services (like ZenBusiness) provide reminders of upcoming state compliance requirements, such as filing annual report filings. Forgetting compliance obligations can get you in trouble with the state.
How is a Registered Agent Appointed in Washington?
You must name your registered agent when you complete the official paperwork with the state to form your LLC, so you need to decide who your registered agent or registered agent service will be before you begin that process. Of course, you need to be sure to inform whomever you’re appointing and get their permission before appointing them.