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 Missouri?
In this guide, we will break down all the details you need to know about Missouri registered agents.
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What is a Missouri Registered Agent?
One of the most common questions we receive from entrepreneurs in Missouri 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 Missouri does not provide a recommended list of registered agent services, we reviewed the top options and compiled a list of the best Missouri registered agent services based on price and overall value.
Who Can Be a Missouri Registered Agent?
In the state of Missouri, a registered agent may be either an individual resident of Missouri or a corporation that is in good standing and is authorized to perform business in the state. Whether an individual or a corporation, the registered agent must have a business office with a physical street address that matches the business entity’s registered office address.
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 Missouri Residents Get Served?
The most important part of a registered agent’s role is being served a summons.
Before a summons can be processed in the state of Missouri, a plaintiff must first open a case by filing a complaint. Using the complaint form which can be found on the Missouri state court system’s website, the plaintiff must complete the document outlining a claim, its justification, and the requested resolution. Then, the document must be submitted to the court in the county where the defendant lives or does business. After filing the claim and any filing/service fees, the clerk will move forward in processing the summons.
If these steps are all taken correctly, the state of Missouri will then serve a summons to the defendant’s registered agent.
How to Designate a Missouri 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.
For LLCs, you will be prompted to designate your registered agent in article three of the Articles of Organization for a Limited Liability Company. When forming a corporation, you’ll list your new registered agent in article two of the Articles of Incorporation form. Alternatively, both documents may be completed online using the state of Missouri’s online business filing system.
Regardless of what kind of business entity you’re forming, you’ll need to include a written statement of consent from your new registered agent when you submit your company’s formation documents to the Secretary of State.
How Can I Change My Missouri Registered Agent?
If you would like to change your registered agent for any reason, the process is pretty simple.
The best way to file a change is to complete the Statement of Change of Registered Agent and/or Office document which can be used by LLCs and corporations alike. The form can be completed here as a pdf form and mailed to the Missouri Secretary of State, or it can be completed online using Missouri’s online business filing platform.
Regardless, the filing fee to change your agent when completing the Statement of Change is only $10.00. While it is possible to change your Missouri registered agent by detailing the new registered agent’s information on your annual report, the charge is $15.00 more than if you were to change it using the Statement of Change document.
How Does a Missouri Registered Agent Resign?
Sometimes, a registered agent may have to resign from their position.
In the state of Missouri, registered agents wishing to resign must complete the appropriate Statement of Resignation form. For corporations, the correct document is the Statement of Resignation of Registered Agent. Alternatively, those resigning from an LLC should select and complete the Statement of Resignation of Registered Agent of Limited Liability Company document. Both forms have a small, $10.00 filing fee.
Why Should You Hire a Professional Missouri 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 Missouri. 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 Missouri 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 Missouri?
You need to have a registered agent to form your limited liability company or corporation in Missouri 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 Missouri, 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 Missouri 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 Missouri Secretary of State:
State of Missouri Secretary of State
600 W. Main St, Room 322
Jefferson City, MO 65102