Think of all the people you communicate with regularly to run your LLC. Business partners, employees, banks, lawyers, and financial advisors all probably come to mind. But what about the state? It may not be at the top of your list, but running a successful LLC in West Virginia requires consistent interaction with the state.
Formation documents, business information changes, lawsuits, professional licenses, and Annual Reports – all of these (and more) require you to work with state agencies. The good news is that you don’t need to do it yourself.
Introducing the agent of process. A West Virginia agent of process is an intermediary for your LLC, a person or company that handles your communication with the state. They’re a vital part of any LLC’s success. Before you file your Articles of Organization, you’ll need to have a designated agent of process. How? Why? Who? Read on to find out.
Special Offer: You can get a free registered agent service and have the LLC formation paperwork filed for you by hiring an online LLC service. While there are a lot of options available and LegalZoom is the most well known, two of the top options that offer excellent prices and features are IncFile and ZenBusiness.
What is a West Virginia Agent of Process & is it Necessary?
An LLC cannot be formed or do business in West Virginia without first having an agent of process on file with the Secretary of State. You aren’t required to declare an agent on your Articles of Organization, but if you don’t the Secretary of State will serve as your agent. Appointing a specific individual or company allows you to choose someone who knows your LLC’s goals and values, who can provide a more personal, beneficial service, and we highly recommend it.
Think of your agent of process as your ambassador to the state, handling all your LLC’s important legal, tax, and compliance information. This can either be an individual, company or agent of process service, as long as they meet the state requirements listed below.
As soon as they’re appointed, your agent of process must be consistently available in West Virginia to receive and act on mailed documents and service of process. Here’s what West Virginia’s LLC Act has to say about it:
What are the Requirements of an Agent of Process?
Even though it’s an important position, there are only a few state requirements for who can serve as your agent of process:
- Your agent must be an individual that resides in West Virginia, or a company authorized to do business in the state.
- Your agent must have a physical address in West Virginia.
- Your agent must have a mailing address in West Virginia (P.O. boxes are not allowed)
That leaves a lot of options for your agent of process! If you find a good fit for your business, you can officially appoint them on your Articles of Organization. Here’s what you’ll need to include:
When you’ve got potential options for your agent of process, review each one to make sure that they meet these requirements. If they do, you’re good to go! If not, you’ll need to keep looking.
Who can be an Agent of Process in West Virginia?
West Virginia’s agent of process requirements are pretty broad, so you’ll have no shortage of options. On top of that, your agent can be either an individual or a professional service. But think carefully before choosing, because each option has its own pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look.
You may choose to appoint a single person as your agent of process. Some LLC owners take on agent of process duties themselves. Others appoint one of their partners or managers. Some will even appoint a family member. As long as the proposed agent fulfills the state’s requirements, they’re a valid option.
In addition to being a West Virginia resident, your agent must not currently be establishing residency or receiving benefits in another state, even if that residency is still forthcoming.
Some smart agent of process choices include attorneys, accountants, or other LLC partners, people who understand the ins and outs of business operations.
- Convenience – Having familiarity and mutual trust with your agent of process is extremely beneficial, and appointing an acquaintance can provide both. Plus, you’ll always know how to contact them.
- Cost – Hiring someone you know often won’t cost a dime. It’s certainly cheaper than a professional service.
- Scheduling – Part of an agent’s duty is being consistently available to receive mailed documents and service of process. If your agent goes on vacation or moves out of state, it will throw a wrench in your plans.
- Punctuality Risks – Some state communications and filings are very . If your agent is unavailable when documents are delivered, it could slow down the entire process and put you at risk for late fees and penalties. Even worse, a friend or family member could lose or misplace a document. So if you’d rather not interrogate Aunt Louise about the location of a particular tax form, you might consider using an agent of process service instead.
Agent of Process Service
If safety and reliability is your goal, hire an agent of process service. A business acting as your agent of process must be either a domestic entity in West Virginia or a foreign entity who has foreign qualified in West Virginia.
- Privacy – Some documents delivered to your agent of process will contain sensitive information. Do you want details about your lawsuit or taxes lost out there in the world? Definitely not. A friend or family member might misplace these documents, but a professional service will not. Plus, in West Virginia, all agent of process names and addresses are available to the public. This might make an individual uncomfortable, but hiring a company will keep this personal information off the record.
- Reliability – Handling and processing time-sensitive documents is an agent of process service’s specialty, its area of expertise, its main game. Hire a professional service and you can be sure that your filings will be submitted properly and punctually, so you’ll never have to deal with late fees or other penalties.
- Location – Many agent of process companies offer service in most or all 50 states, so if business is booming and you decide to expand outside West Virginia, you won’t need to find a new agent for each state.
- Cost – There’s no getting around it – hiring a service costs more than appointing an individual who’s willing to do it for free. However, for a reasonable price (roughly $100/year), you’ll receive premium services. Taking your car to a mechanic costs more than letting your neighbor try to fix it, but the mechanic gives you peace of mind that the job will get done right, and that may very well be worth the cost.
All of the other steps in the LLC formation process will keep you busy, but take some time to ensure you find an agent of process that fits with your business model, goals, and values. Do this, and your LLC will reap the benefits for years to come.
How to get a Free Agent of Process
Here’s a pro tip: you can get the reliability of an agent of process service and the cost-effectiveness of an individual. The best of both worlds. When you hire certain LLC services to start your business, they’ll throw in free agent of process service.
How it Works
Hire a company like IncFile or ZenBusiness to form your West Virginia LLC. In addition to taking care of your Articles of Organization and other formation requirements, they will automatically include a agent of process. It’s a great two-for-one deal.
And an LLC service is pretty affordable – $100 for the West Virginia’s LLC formation fee, plus a $49 or $79 service fee. That’s great value for the number of benefits you receive. Some services will even cover and consolidate your LLC formation costs.
Take this route and you’ll sweep all formation paperwork and agent of process duties off your plate. Plus, to keep track of everything, these services provide user-friendly online dashboards, so you can follow everything they’re doing to keep your LLC in good standing.
Agent of Process Changes and Resignation
You may have a wonderful agent of process, someone who takes care of everything efficiently and who you trust completely. But you know what they say: all good things must come to an end. At some point in the life of your LLC, you may need to change your West Virginia agent of process.
It might be stressful to think about finding a new agent, but once you do the actual process of making the change is easy, and there are multiple ways to go about it.
When it comes to the agent of process coverage, the quickest filing method is often the best one. In this case, the fastest way to file is online through the One Stop Business Portal. Otherwise, you can download Form AOO, complete it, and follow the included filing guidelines to submit it by mail, fax, or email. No matter which method you use, there is a $15 filing fee.
Or, you can make the agent of process change when you file your Annual Report between January 1 and July 1.
The most common reason you would need to make this change is that your current agent of process resigns.
West Virginia law doesn’t allow an agent of process to resign and leave immediately. If your agent submits an official resignation, they are required to retain their duties for 30 days. This gives you one month to line up a replacement. If you don’t notify the Secretary of State about the resignation within 60 days, your LLC can be administratively dissolved, so make sure you’re on top of it!
Have Questions or Concerns?
This guide contains almost everything there is to know about West Virginia agents of process. However, you might have a unique situation that requires additional information. Reaching out to the West Virginia Secretary of State is easy, and they’ll have the answers you need. Here’s how to reach them:
Visit Their Website
Visit the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Business Division website for a ton more information on every aspect of LLC formation and maintenance.
Give Them a Call
Sometimes it’s easier to talk with a person. Reach out to the Secretary of State’s Charleston office at (304) 558-6000.