Every LLC doing business in the state must appoint and maintain a Montana Registered Agent. This agent is a person or company that agrees to receive service of process on behalf of an LLC. A Registered Agent (RA) also serves as the general point of contact between the state and the LLC.
Apart from the service of process, the agent may also receive official communication from the state. These include payment reminders, tax notices, etc.
To receive service of process and official mail, the RA must maintain a physical address in the state.
Legal Qualifications Of A Montana Registered Agent
To be appointed as a Registered Agent in Montana, the person or business entity must fulfill a few requirements. These are straightforward and leave plenty of room for the LLC in appointing its agent.
- The registered agent must maintain a physical street address in Montana. PO Box addresses or similar services aren’t accepted.
- If the agent is a person, he or she must be a resident of the state and capable of receiving legal documents.
- If the agent is a business, they should have permission to do business in the state.
These are reasonable and useful requirements and businesses usually don’t have any problem in finding a registered agent. It’s worth noting that while several businesses qualify to work as registered agents, the term usually refers to commercial registered agents. These are businesses that offer registered agent services for a fee.
Responsibilities Of A Registered Agent In Montana
While the aforementioned requirements legally qualify a person or business to be appointed as the RA, the Montana LLC must also consider their fitness for the role. It’s quite like hiring for any position – you’ve got to check if the person will fit the role.
An RA isn’t necessarily a full-time employee of the LLC. But their job can be quite a handful and requires their attention, if not all their time. So, the agent should be someone who can, at a minimum, stay true to the following requirements.
- Maintain a physical address for an LLC. This is the registered office of the LLC and it cannot be a PO Box or similar service.
- Be available at the registered office during normal business hours (9 am to 5 pm).
- Receive service of process if/when it arrives and immediately inform the company.
- Receive any official communication from the state and let the LLC know about it.
Service of process and communication from the state often require time-bound responses. Therefore, it is important that the agent be quick. You’ll likely have days (or more) to respond, but every moment can be important.
Choosing Your Montana LLC Registered Agent
Who Can Be Your Registered Agent?
As already noted, the requirements for RA are straightforward. So, you can take your pick in selecting an agent. While there are plenty of options available, the following are the most commonly used.
- You can be your own registered agent.
- Appoint friends or family members.
- Get a commercial registered agent.
Being your own registered agent (or appointing family members or friends) costs you $0. However, a commercial agent will expect an annual fee. But before making the decision, you should also consider if you, your family, or friends are willing and able for the role.
Handling the responsibilities of an RA is more difficult than it sounds. Sure, you can be at the registered office, but it’s being continuously available that can pose a problem.
For example, you might be away on a vacation, or running an errand, or otherwise unavailable when service of process arrives. This could be problematic, even if the chances of it happening are low.
Privacy is another point of consideration. The address and details of a registered agent become part of the public record. This means they’ll be easily accessible to anyone willing to look for them. And as you’d already know, several businesses, websites, etc. do look for this information.
Many people may not find these possibilities appetizing. In such cases, hiring a commercial agent could be the answer.
Another aspect is if you’re forming a foreign LLC in Montana. In this case, you might not have any friends or family available to reliably handle the role of a registered agent. Most LLCs in this scenario choose to hire a commercial agent. Truth be told, commercial agents remain popular with domestic LLCs too.
Hiring A Montana Commercial Registered Agent
Going with a commercial registered agent can be the most convenient option for most LLCs. You’ll find several commercial registered agents offering their services in the state. The pricing can vary depending on the agent and the service. However, most companies charge in the bracket of $50 to $300 annually.
Remember that hiring a commercial agent doesn’t make them automatically suited for all legal requirements and responsibilities. An LLC should do its own due diligence and see how dependable the agent is. Checking the reviews and previous records of a prospective hire can be a good start.
Whatever choice you make, you should expect more from a professional agent. At the minimum, you should look at the following qualities in the agent.
- Professional Service: A commercial registered agent should be professional and capable of faithfully discharging their duties. This includes adherence to the responsibilities of an agent and ensuring that the LLC gets informed of any correspondence quickly.
- Reliable: Commercial agents usually have a fully staffed office. This means they can be reasonably expected to receive service of process and other official mail. Plus, they’d have the expertise to deal with these matters professionally.
- Privacy: The agent will use their own address where applicable. This way, your address can stay private.
- Convenient: Hiring an agent should free you from the related responsibilities. Besides, the handling of various related requirements should be easy and seamless.
The state maintains a list of MT commercial registered agents on the SOS website. For a business to work as a commercial registered agent, it must file a listing with the state. Additionally, commercial agents must stay in good standing with the state. No business entity in Montana can act as its own registered agent.
Changing Your Montana Registered Agent
An LLC can change its Montana Registered Agent by filing a Statement of Change of Registered Agent form with the Montana Secretary of State. There is no filing fee for this form.
Another method for change is to do it while submitting the annual report. However, while the Statement of Change can be filed at any time, the annual report has a fixed filing time. If you need to change your RA immediately, you should use the Statement of Change. But if it’s possible to club it with the Annual Report, going this route might be the better option.