A registered agent is the individual or business entity that receives legal documents from the state, and then forwards them to your business address. But why is this a requirement, and who should you designate as your registered agent in Maine?
In this guide, we will break down all the details you need to know about Maine registered agents.
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What is a Maine Registered Agent?
One of the most common questions we receive from entrepreneurs in Maine is why a registered agent is required to form an LLC or corporation. While it might seem like an unnecessary middle-man type of role, the registered agent fills a vital role.
The registered agent’s job is to provide a reliable way for the state to contact an official representative of your business at any time, which is especially important if your business is ever sued. If you didn’t have a registered agent, a lawsuit could progress through the courts without you even knowing about it, which is obviously far from ideal.While Maine does not provide a recommended list of registered agent services, we reviewed the top options and compiled a list of the best Maine registered agent services based on price and overall value.
Who Can Be a Maine Registered Agent?
The Maine Secretary of State asserts that a registered agent may be either a resident of Maine or a business (either in-state or out-of-state) that is in good standing and authorized to do business in the state. The company must also have a usual place of business in Maine that has a physical street address rather than just a P.O. box.
Aside from the legal requirements, an important aspect to discuss is who should be your registered agent. You have the right to declare yourself as your own registered agent, which has its pros and cons.
On the positive side, you can save some money by not paying anyone to serve as your agent, but you’ll also likely need to make your home address a matter of public record, which is not ideal. Additionally, you’ll need to be physically present at your business during all standard operating hours (9-5, M-F).
Some entrepreneurs like to have a friend or family member serve as their registered agent, but if that person doesn’t have experience in this position, they might not know what is expected of them. In addition, designating your lawyer or accountant as a registered agent can work, but these options are usually quite expensive.
Our preference is to hire a professional registered agent service, which provides a combination of convenience, affordability, and peace of mind that is unrivaled by any of these other options.
How Do Maine Residents Get Served?
The most important part of a registered agent’s role is being served a summons.
Before a summons can be processed, a plaintiff must first complete and submit a Statement of Claim form to the appropriate District Court. Generally, this is the Court in which the defendant’s registered agent resides. After filing the Statement of Claim and any necessary fees, the plaintiff must file an Affidavit and Request for Service form and pay a fee for each defendant.
If these steps are all taken correctly, the clerk’s office will arrange services of the summons to the defendant’s registered agent.
How to Designate a Maine Registered Agent
The answer to this question depends on what type of business you’re starting, but with either a corporation or an LLC, you’ll need to designate your registered agent when you form your company.
When establishing an LLC in the state of Maine, you’ll need to designate your registered agent in the fifth section when completing the Certificate of Formation for LLCs. Alternatively, when forming a corporation you’ll be prompted to designate your registered agent in the third section of the Articles of Incorporation for domestic business corporations.
It should be noted that in Maine, some documents (such as the Articles of Incorporation) may refer to the registered agent as the “clerk”. The difference between “clerk” and “registered agent” is purely one of lexicon; both of these terms refer to the same position that carries the same responsibilities.
While the signature of the new registered agent is not necessary to submit either document, by signing either the Certificate of Formation or the Articles of Incorporation, you are certifying that the listed registered agent/clerk has consented to the appointment.
How Can I Change My Maine Registered Agent?
If you would like to change your registered agent for any reason, the process is pretty simple.
There is only one form you need to submit the appropriate statement of change document. If you’re using a commercial agent (a company you hired to serve as your agent for an annual fee), then you’ll need to complete either the Statement of Appointment or Change of Commercial Clerk for corporations or the Statement of Appointment or Change for Commercial Registered Agents for LLCs.
Alternatively, if you’re using an individual or other noncommercial registered agent, you’ll change your registered agent by completing either the Statement of Change of Noncommercial Clerk for corporations or the Statement of Appointment or Change of Noncommercial Agents for LLCs.
All forms have the same filing fee of $35.00 which may be paid by credit card using the Department’s Credit Card Voucher Form. After completion of the forms, you must mail them to the state of Maine’s Division of Corporations. The standard processing time is generally around 5 to 10 business days.
How Does a Maine Registered Agent Resign?
Sometimes, a registered agent may have to resign from their position.
In Maine, registered agents wishing to resign must complete either the Statement of Resignation (form MBCA-3A-NCRA) specified for corporations or the Statement of Resignation (form MLLC-3A-NCRA) for LLCs, depending on the business entity type.
Both documents are straightforward forms that only ask for the resigning agent’s name and address, the details of the business entity, and the name and contact information of the individual to whom notice will be given. The filing fee to resign is $35.00 and may be paid by credit card using this Credit Card Voucher form.
Why Should You Hire a Professional Maine Registered Agent Service?
Hiring a professional registered agent is basically the best of both worlds between serving as your own agent, and designating a lawyer or accountant.
The biggest benefit in our opinion is the privacy protection this allows, as you will be able to keep your personal address private. There’s also a major advantage compared to having an attorney or accountant serve as your agent, namely the fact that registered agent services are almost always much cheaper.
Another reason we like this option is that these companies specialize in providing quality registered agent service. They know exactly what’s expected of them, and there are rarely any issues to speak of.
The other major benefit of hiring a registered agent service is that most of them operate in all 50 states, so that if you ever want to expand your business into another state, you won’t need to hire an additional registered agent. Your same registered agent will be able to provide the coverage you need in your new state, while still providing the same service in Maine. If you hired a lawyer or accountant, they would only be able to help you expand to a new state if they have another physical office in that state.
You Stay Compliant
Finally, most professional registered agents operating in Maine offer some sort of compliance calendar. With this service, your registered agent helps you keep track of due dates for ongoing LLC maintenance requirements like annual reports, which is a valuable bonus.
The top registered agent service providers include some other appealing attributes, including access to their extensive customer support networks. Some of them include a full year of registered agent service with any business formation package, which can be a real money-saver. Another welcome attribute is that some registered agent services provide volume discounts if you require service in multiple states, or if you prepay for multiple years.
What Is the Penalty for Not Designating a Registered Agent in Maine?
You need to have a registered agent to form your limited liability company or corporation in Maine in the first place, but if you let your registered agent service lapse, there could be some serious consequences.
Failure to maintain a registered agent could lead to your business losing its good standing with the state of Maine, and the state also has the right to officially dissolve your LLC if they choose to.
Another issue would be the difficulty of being served if your business is sued. If the state cannot get ahold of your registered agent, a court may decide to go ahead with the lawsuit without your knowledge, which could even lead to a judgment against you. This can happen not just if you fail to designate a registered agent, but also if your agent is not present during business hours to accept the document delivery.
As you can see, the task of designating a registered agent for your Maine business isn’t quite as easy as just writing down your own name.
There are significant downsides to just about every option in our opinion, but we recommend hiring a professional registered agent service because that option has the fewest disadvantages. They charge affordable rates, and you never have to worry about losing your good standing, having your LLC or corporation dissolved, or having a lawsuit proceed in your absence.
If you have any further questions, you can contact the Maine Secretary of State:
The State of Maine Secretary of State
Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0101