The limited liability company is a popular choice for new businesses in the United States, with several thousand LLCs forming every year. An LLC protects the business owners from personal liability and allows them the same taxation as a sole proprietorship or partnership.
To form an LLC in the United States, you need to have a registered agent in your state. Registered agents produce a business address and receive important legal documents on your behalf.
Several companies offer online LLC registration services, and today we’ll be comparing two popular options: Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom. We’ll cover the different features, prices, and advantages of both companies so you can hopefully find which one best suits your business needs.
A Brief Summary of Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom
Both companies offer businesses online LLC formation and registered agent services. Both help companies handle legal documents without necessarily having to hire an expensive lawyer.
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is famous in the industry for having low rates and outstanding customer service. Many businesses turn to Northwest Registered Agent for their LLC formations and registered agent services because they have lower prices and can rely on their team to get tasks done efficiently.
Some of their services include:
- LLC formation
- Corporation formation
- Registered Agent services
- Managing legal documents
Without a doubt, LegalZoom is one of (if not) the most popular online legal services company. They have a track record of helping millions of businesses with legal documentation, and their ads are everywhere. As a result, LegalZoom is a bit more pricey, and they don’t offer registered agent services with their LLC formation packages.
Some of their services include:
- LLC formation
- Sole proprietorship
- DBA/business names
- Trademark registration
Here’s how the two compare price-wise:
The pricing structure of LegalZoom is a bit more costly than Northwest Registered Agent.
- LLC Formation ($79 to $359). The lowest cost to form an LLC with LegalZoom is $79, which includes all of the essentials for forming your new limited liability company. Their team will file all of your documents, prepare all of the necessary articles for your business, and help you open a business bank account.
- Registered Agent Services ($299/year). If you want LegalZoom to be your registered agent, they charge an annual fee of $299, but they offer discounts on this fee for your first year if you purchase additional services. The registered agent service will ensure that your business meets all of the tax deadlines and provides annual reports.
Companies with brand recognition on the top of their priority list might find LegalZoom to be the best option; however, expect to pay more for their services.
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is known for having low prices, excellent customer service, and loads of useful features.
- LLC Formation ($225 + State Fees). The company has a combined package for LLC formation and registered agent services. Combined, it’s a cheaper option than going with LegalZoom, and you get access to a dedicated support rep and various other helpful features. They will also help you draft your operating agreement and provide you with annual reports and LLC membership certificates.
New companies that don’t have any legal experience would fare well working with Northwest Registered Agent considering their support team is there to walk you through the entire process. Also, you save a bit of money when buying their all-inclusive formation service.
- LegalZoom total cost: $238
- Northwest Registered Agent total cost: ($225)
Advantages of LegalZoom
Here are the advantages that come with using a service like LegalZoom:
LegalZoom has been around since the early 2000s and has helped millions of businesses with affordable legal services. Additionally, the company offers a 60-day money-back guarantee if you’re not entirely satisfied with their services. That means companies can try out LegalZoom nearly risk-free.
Business Legal Plan
One of their most inexpensive services is a comprehensive business legal plan, which gives you access to an attorney for specific advisory. This plan allows you to have phone consultations with your attorney to help you review and understand documents. A fantastic thing about LegalZoom is how they help you conduct a business evaluation to ensure you’re compliant with tax laws.
Disadvantages of LegalZoom
Unfortunately, LegalZoom comes with a few cons as well:
Inconsistent Customer Service
Although LegalZoom offers both phone and email support, the community has mixed feelings about their customer service team’s quality. Some companies say the quality of their support is one of the leading disadvantages of using their services.
Expensive for Business Formation
If you’re looking to form an LLC or incorporate your company, be ready to pay a hefty price. Other services LegalZoom offer are quite helpful for small businesses, but if you need to form an LLC, you’re better off going with another service.
Not Suitable for One-off Services
For businesses that just need to check a few documents or need a one-time legal service, LegalZoom doesn’t necessarily cater to that. They only offer such services in their monthly recurring plans.
Advantages of Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest comes with plenty of pros of its own:
Fantastic Customer Support
Northwest Registered Agent has an in-house customer service team that is great at solving problems quickly. Whenever you have a problem or want to ask a question about their services, you can speak to a representative almost instantly. Additionally, their team walks you through the entire process of forming an LLC and reviewing your documents.
Full-Year Registration Included
They are one of the few companies that offer a full-year of company registration included in their LLC formation package. This feature alone makes them far more useful for new companies as they handle all of the leg work while you can focus on growing your new project.
Protect Your Information
To your surprise, several legal services companies sell your information to advertisers without your knowledge. Northwest Registered Agent keeps your information private, so you don’t get spammed by people trying to sell you services you probably don’t need.
Disadvantages of Northwest Registered Agent
Like LegalZoom, Northwest has a couple of cons to watch out for:
Low Volume of Reviews
Northwest Registered Agent doesn’t have many reviews online, although the few it does have are mostly positive. If you’re looking for a more reputable brand, then perhaps Northwest Registered Agent isn’t right for you.
Not Suitable for Businesses on a Budget
Although they are cheaper than LegalZoom, there are other affordable LLC formation services available. With that in mind, the service and features you get from Northwest Registered Agent are worth the price.
Northwest Registered Agent determines their turnaround time depending on which state you’re in. LegalZoom’s turnaround time is influenced by which service you buy. The LegalZoom Economy Package ($99) has a 30-day turnaround, where their Express Gold package ($349) only takes 7-days.
Both services are quite fast considering the amount of work that goes into forming an LLC. Depending on which state you’re in, Northwest Registered Agent or LegalZoom will be quicker, so make sure to look into each state’s individual turnaround times.
With that in mind, we believe that Norwest Registered Agent has a more favorable model for turnaround times since they aren’t only serving the businesses that pay them the most.
Registered Agent Services
When you form an LLC in the United States, you must have a registered agent in your state. A registered agent receives all-important business documents on your behalf, then forwards them to your physical location. You might be thinking about why the government can send you the documents directly, and that’s because they need a dedicated source so they can contact you at all times.
With Northwest Registered Agent, you get a year of registered agent service included in their LLC formation package, and after the first year, you must pay $125 a year. Northwest Registered Agent is one of the few companies that review each document for your company, which is a massive bonus of working with them.
LegalZoom offers its registered agent services separately, and the cost is $299 per year. Although they are more expensive, LegalZoom is known to have reliable registered agent services that are easy to implement.
Above, we mention that Northwest Registered Agent’s customer service is phenomenal. They have an incredible in-house customer service team that is ready to answer any of your inquiries at all times. If you have a question or issue at any time, you can usually resolve it within the first phone call. The quality of customer service is often why people choose to work with them.
Although LegalZoom’s customer support team isn’t as widely-recognized for its excellence as Northwest Registered Agents, they are still extremely competent. They offer phone and email support for their customers and even have reps available on the weekend.
When looking at online customer reviews, both companies seem favorable. Northwest Registered Agent has roughly 200 mostly positive online reviews. That doesn’t hold a candle to LegalZoom’s 2000+ online reviews. It only makes sense, considering they have been around a lot longer.
LegalZoom might have more reviews, but the ratio of good to bad isn’t so excellent. Northwest Registered Agent still seems like the more likable company among startups and other small businesses due to their seamless services and customer service.
Overview of Features
When it comes to their key features, here’s how the two compare:
- LLC: Forming an LLC with LegalZoom requires fewer steps and is incredibly straightforward. As of now, they have helped over 1 million businesses from around the world form an LLC.
- Federal Tax ID: You can order a federal tax ID for your business from LegalZoom starting at $79.
- Operating Agreement: Every business needs a professional and transparent operating agreement. It helps establish boundaries within your business and protects you from certain risks and liabilities.
- DBA/Business Name: Your business name is everything. Find the perfect name for your business and then claim it with LegalZoom.
Northwest Registered Agent
- LLC: The incorporation services with Northwest Registered Agent are quick, easy, and affordable. This package also includes several other features to help get your idea up and running.
- Registered Agent Services: If you form an LLC, you are required to have a registered agent. Northwest Registered Agent has one of the most affordable and reliable registered agent services online.
- Access to Online Documents: If you’re the type that likes to oversee everything, you can view all of your documents online with Northwest Registered Agent. This feature also makes your life easier whenever you need access to any of your company’s legal documents.
- Annual Reporting: The team at Northwest Registered Agent will send you scheduled email reminders about your progress and any other essential legal information. This is a fantastic way to ensure your company stays compliant, even if you’re already extremely organized.
As far their reputation goes, here’s how Northwest and LegalZoom match up:
Since opening their doors in 1999, they have helped over 3 million businesses with legal services. The LegalZoom brand’s power is unmatched in the industry, and the company continues to grow rapidly. All of their attorneys go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure that their customers are only getting the best advice.
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent has been around since 1998 and has since helped over 2 million businesses with company formation and other legal services. They currently form several hundred LLCs every single day. Without a doubt, they are a key player in the online legal space, and they offer a wide variety of affordable services for new businesses.
User experience is an important part of creating an LLC, and here’s what you can expect from these two companies:
LegalZoom makes the process of forming an LLC and handling your legal documents incredibly simple. It’s one of the oldest online legal services companies, which hurts their user experience more than it helps. The website often runs slowly and is cluttered with redundant information. As a result, many users get lost in the fog and have an unpleasant experience.
Their content is in plain English and easy to understand, but their site’s functionality is entirely outdated compared to some of the more modern competitors. If you have the patients to navigate their site, perhaps this isn’t such a big issue. However, for their price tag, you would expect a much better design.
Northwest Registered Agent
Although Northwest Registered Agent is about as old as LegalZoom, they have invested far more into their site. Everything you need is right there in the first block of web content. If you scroll through their site, all of the essential features and services display on the screen, and you aren’t distracted by mountains of text.
They even have a directory that gives you valuable information about all of their services within each state. Above, we mention how the turnaround time varies between states, so this is incredibly useful for finding out how long you can expect them to fulfill your order.
FAQ About LegalZoom
Still have questions about LegalZoom? We’ve got answers below!
Do you need LegalZoom to form an LLC?
You can form your LLC, but it can be challenging if you don’t have experience. You don’t necessarily need LegalZoom to form an LLC, but it’s highly recommended that you choose an online legal service to help get your paperwork sorted.
Is LegalZoom suitable for small businesses?
One of the best things about LegalZoom is their brand power. Other than that, they don’t necessarily have any advantages of going with them rather than another cheaper service. If you’re a small business on a budget, you’re better off going with Northwest Registered Agent, as they have more affordable services.
Is LegalZoom worth it?
There’s no doubt that LegalZoom has some useful features. All of their attorneys are legit; they have decent customer service and years of industry experience. However, other services are more worth it for the long-term.
Do LegalZoom documents hold up in court?
In short, documents from LegalZoom do hold up in court. For a contract to be acceptable in court, it doesn’t require a specific format. However, several things can influence what’s acceptable in court, and a LegalZoom document might not be efficient.
Is LegalZoom useful for forming an LLC?
LegalZoom is a reliable company for forming an LLC. However, they aren’t the best choice for small businesses. They are more expensive and don’t include essential services in their incorporation services. Therefore, you might be better off going with another option, such as Northwest Registered Agent.
FAQ About Northwest Registered Agent
Here’s everything else you need to know about Northwest:
Is Northwest Registered Agent cheap?
Although Northwest Registered Agent is cheaper than LegalZoom, it’s not the cheapest option out there. The initial fee to form an LLC, including registered agent services, is $225 a year.
Does Northwest Registered Agent offer any promotions?
No, as of now, they don’t offer any discounts or promotions. However, when you purchase additional services in several states, they offer a discounted price for each state.
Is Northwest Registered Agent the real deal?
The company has been around since 1998 and has become one of the top-rated LLC formation services in the country. They help hundreds of businesses every day make their dream a reality by forming an LLC and submitting all of the essential documents. Due to their large volume of customers and decades of experience, it’s safe to say that Northwest Registered Agent is legit.
Does Northwest Registered Agent offer any refunds?
Their refund policy is a little spotty, but if you request a refund within 60 days of your purchase, they will give it to you minus a small fee of $25. Fortunately, their customer service team is efficient and can help you if any problems arise.
Do I need to reserve my business name before forming an LLC with Northwest Registered Agent?
Only if you’re forming your LLC in Alabama, all other states don’t require you to reserve your business name before forming your LLC. If you’re not ready to form your LLC yet, it’s wise that you reserve your name first.
What else can Northwest Registered Agent do besides forming an LLC?
Northwest Registered Agent offers a wide range of services other than forming an LLC. They can provide you with annual reports, be your registered agent, draft operating agreements, set up a virtual office, and help with business licensing.
Overall Rating for Both Companies
Northwest Registered Agent is, without a doubt, the best option for businesses who want to form an LLC. They are the best value for money, have a better pricing structure, and a more reliable customer service team.
Northwest Registered Agent (4.8/5)
Northwest Registered Agent is by far one of the best registered agent services online. Although they aren’t the cheapest option available, their features and customer service put them on the top of the list of options.
LegalZoom is quite pricey, and their customer service is spotty, but they are still a reliable company for forming an LLC. If a large brand makes you feel more comfortable, you might be better off going with their services.
Should You Choose Northwest Registered Agent?
The positives of Northwest Registered Agent far outweigh the negatives. Overall, they offer a valuable service for an affordable price. They may not be the best choice for every company, but for most, they have everything you need. Here are some examples of companies that should choose Northwest Registered Agent as their online legal service:
- Companies that are looking for personalized service with a support team that will walk them through the entire process
- Companies on a tight budget that need online legal services
- Companies that want registered agent services included in their LLC package
- Companies that want all of their business documents reviewed by their registered agent and not just legal documents.
We hope that this comprehensive guide of LegalZoom and Northwest Registered agent was helpful. Forming your LLC is an exciting time, and you must have the right team helping you through the process. Although Northwest Registered Agent is the winner, LegalZoom still has several helpful features for small businesses.
Although Northwest Registered Agent only offers a single LLC formation and registered services package, they practically have everything you need on the legal side to start your company.
What are your thoughts about the two companies? Remember, always choose a service that aligns with your business goals and has all of the tools you need to ensure your company is compliant. Now you’re ready to get your company started!