A West Virginia Registered Agent is a person or business appointed by an LLC to receive service of process on its behalf. Service of process involves receiving legal documents like notice of a lawsuit, summons, subpoenas, etc.
To this end, the agent must maintain a physical address in the state where service of process and other certified mail can arrive. The agent may also receive documents from the state, including tax notices or payment reminders. Generally speaking, the agent serves as a point of contact between the state and the West Virginia LLC.
An LLC must appoint a registered agent before submitting its Articles of Organization to the WV Secretary of State. The SOS won’t accept the articles of organization unless the agent is appointed. Additionally, the LLC must continuously maintain a registered agent in the state. Failure to do so will have legal and administrative repercussions.
Legal Requirements And Responsibilities Of A West Virginia Registered Agent
An LLC has plenty of freedom to choose the registered agent it wants to appoint. However, the agent must qualify for the role. West Virginia law has laid down a few requirements that the agent must complete.
- A West Virginia Registered Agent must have a physical address in the state. This is the registered office of the LLC and it can’t be a PO Box address or similar service.
- If the agent is a person, he or she must be capable of receiving legal documents.
- If the agent is a business, it must have the necessary permissions to do business in the state.
The requirements are practical and are easily fulfilled. These also include commercial registered agents, which are essentially businesses that offer their services for a fee. The process becomes easier once you understand the requirements.
Simply fulfilling the legal requirements isn’t good enough for finalizing an appointment. An LLC must consider the responsibilities and obligations that a registered agent has to handle. It is the capability to handle these obligations that must direct an LLC’s choice of a registered agent.
- The registered agent must maintain a physical address (registered office) for the LLC.
- The agent should be available during normal working hours (9 am to 5 pm) in case service of process arrives.
- An LLC’s registered agent should receive service of process (if it arrives) and immediately inform the LLC.
- An agent should receive any notifications from the state and forward them to the LLC.
What Communication Does A Registered Agent Receive
A West Virginia Registered Agent’s primary role is to receive service of process. For an LLC, they are essentially the agent for service of process. Additionally, the agent may also receive communication and certified mail from the state.
Some LLCs route much of their correspondence through the registered agent. While others choose to limit the agent to the necessary role of receiving service of process and communication from the state. Other correspondence is routed through various channels within the LLC.
How you choose to approach this is entirely up to you and the LLC. It also depends on the registered agent. If you appoint a third party as the registered agent, it may not be a good idea to route all communication through them.
Finally, remember that the address of the registered agent becomes part of the public record in West Virginia. Getting junk mail is unavoidable.
Who To Appoint As Your Registered Agent In WV
Weighing The Options Available To An LLC
In a general sense, you (as the organizer of the LLC) may have the following options for appointing a registered agent (RA). This assumes that the legal requirements listed above have been met.
- You can be the registered agent of the LLC.
- It’s possible to appoint family members or friends.
- You can hire a commercial registered agent.
Being your own registered agent, or having family/friends do it, can have monetary benefits. Not having to pay a commercial agent can save you some money. On the other hand, hiring an agent may bring benefits related to professionalism and reliability.
Also, these options are generally best suited for domestic (native to WV) LLCs. If you’re setting up a foreign LLC, you may not know anyone in the state or have a physical address there. In such cases, hiring a commercial agent is the way to go.
Privacy is a point worth considering too. As we know, the address of the RA is part of the public record in West Virginia. Some people may not like the idea of their address and details being so freely available.
Reliability comes into play as well. Individuals may find it difficult to continuously man the registered office during normal business hours. You might be away on vacation, errands, or other engagements when service of process arrives.
These may not seem like an immediate risk, but they’re points worth considering. Although if you’re unfazed by these potential issues or believe them to be manageable, you can consider being your own registered agent.
Hiring A Commercial Registered Agent
LLCs often take the path of hiring a commercial registered agent in WV. The cost of this service generally varies depending on the LLC and the service. However, a majority of the offerings fall in the range of $50-$300 annually.
Before hiring an agent, you should do some due diligence to see if they’re fit for the role. Checking reviews on trusted sites or speaking to previous or existing customers can provide a good direction. Even a quick commercial registered agent search in West Virginia will bring up several options to consider. So take your time and do some research before making this decision.
Choosing a registered agent shouldn’t be guided by monetary considerations alone. It’s necessary to consider their fitness for the role and work ethics. Generally speaking, you should expect the agent to have a few qualities. At the minimum, they should include the following:
- Professional Service
- Discreet Service
Changing An LLC’s West Virginia Registered Agent
Changing an LLC’s West Virginia Registered Agent requires filing an Application to Appoint or Change Process, Officers and/or Addresses with the West Virginia Secretary of State, Business Division.
West Virginia also makes it possible to change your registered agent while you file the Annual Report for your LLC.