One of the very first things you’ll need to determine before filing your paperwork to form a limited liability company (LLC) in Wisconsin is who will serve as your registered agent. The state requires all LLCs to have one, but what exactly is a registered agent? What do they do, and what are the requirements to be one?
What is a Wisconsin Registered Agent?
A registered agent is an individual or company that is designated by the owners of the LLC to receive important legal documents on behalf of the business. This position is needed for ensuring that the appropriate people within an LLC are notified in person whenever there are time-sensitive events, such as service of process for lawsuits. The agent also receives important notifications from the state, such as garnishment notices against employees, notices of the annual report due dates, and tax notifications.
Who can be a Registered Agent in Wisconsin?
According to Wisconsin Statute 183.0105, every Wisconsin LLC must continuously maintain a registered office in this state and a registered agent. The registered office may, but need not, be the same as any of its places of business, but must be a physical street address. The registered agent must be one of the following:
(a) A natural person who resides in this state and whose business office is identical with the registered office.
(b) A domestic corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, or corporation organized in this state or that has in effect a statement of qualification under s. 178.0901, whose business office is identical with the registered office.
(c) A foreign (meaning out of state) corporation, nonstock corporation, limited partnership, registered limited liability partnership, or limited liability company authorized to transact business in this state, whose business office is identical with the registered office.
Should you be your own Wisconsin Registered Agent?
Although it may seem like the simplest and cheapest option is to be your own registered agent, there are some serious drawbacks. Here are some reasons to use a registered agent service instead, 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 run errands, have a sick day, etc. It’s also a problem if your LLC doesn’t have normal business hours.
- Avoiding Embarrassment – If you serve as your own registered agent and the business is sued, you could have papers served to you at your office in front of clients and your employees.
- Compliance Reminders – Some registered agent services (like ZenBusiness) provide reminders of upcoming state requirements, such as filing annual report filings. This can help keep the company in compliance.
- Penalties and Fees – By not continuously maintaining a current registered agent, the LLC may be responsible for penalties and fees, in addition to the potential for having the state of Wisconsin dissolve the LLC.
How is a Wisconsin Registered Agent Appointed?
A registered agent is initially appointed when forming the LLC. 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 as your agent.