A Wisconsin Registered Agent is a mandatory requirement for every LLC doing business in the state. The registered agent serves as a point of contact between the state and the LLC.
However, the biggest responsibility of a registered agent is in receiving the service of process. This involves receiving legal documents like the notice of a lawsuit, summons, subpoenas, etc. Sending these documents through process servers is how the court system tracks the delivery of legal notices and documents.
Every LLC needs to appoint and maintain a registered agent in Wisconsin at all times. Failure to do so will invite penalties and legal action from the state. In fact, the state will not approve an LLC’s Articles of Organization unless it mentions the appointment of a registered agent.
This should explain why your business needs a registered agent, and why having a reliable agent can make all the difference.
Who Can Be A Wisconsin Registered Agent – Key Requirements
Before an LLC appoints a registered agent, it has to consider whether the agent is qualified for the role. To be fair, Wisconsin allows a lot of flexibility in deciding on an agent. So, it should be relatively simple to get the agent of your choice. The requirements an agent should fulfill are:
- A registered agent must maintain a physical address where service of process directed at the LLC can be delivered.
- If the registered agent is a person, she/he should be an adult and capable of receiving legal documents.
- If the registered agent is a business, they should have permission to do business in the state and maintain an office in Wisconsin.
The business entity working as a registered agent usually refers to commercial registered agents. These are businesses that offer their services as a registered agent for a fee. These are fairly popular options and many LLCs choose to pay commercial agents rather than take a different route.
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent In Wisconsin?
Yes, as long as you fulfill the requirements for the role. Simply put, if you’re an adult and have a physical street address, you can function as a registered agent. If you (or other members of the LLC) aren’t interested in being the agent, you can ask your friends or family members to take on the role.
So, as long as the requirements are fulfilled, the following can be the registered agent:
- You can be your own registered agent.
- Your family members or friends can be the registered agent.
- You can hire a commercial registered agent.
The reliability of the Wisconsin Registered Agent is an important aspect of the process. When you consider appointing an agent, consider whether they’ll be able to handle the responsibilities of being an agent.
Responsibilities Of A Registered Agent
A registered agent should be able to handle the following responsibilities:
- Maintain a registered office for the LLC where service of process can arrive.
- Be available during normal business hours (9 am to 5 pm) in case service of process arrives.
- Receive service of process if/when it arrives. The agent should forward it to the LLC as soon as possible.
- Receive tax notices and other documents from the state and forward them to the LLC.
It’s worth noting that the registered agent usually isn’t a full-time job. As long as the registered agent can be present to receive the service of process, their job requirement is mostly complete. And while we mention that the agent is responsible for receiving correspondence, this should be limited to service of process and important notices from the state.
Your LLC’s registered agent shouldn’t be expected to receive all the communication from the company. Such an approach would be counter-productive.
Aspects Of Being Your Own Registered Agent
As noted, you or your family/friends can act as the registered agent for the LLC. This is simple enough and could save you the money you’d otherwise spend on hiring a commercial agent. But there are more considerations that go along with this approach.
For example, the ability to continuously maintain a registered office could be troublesome for most individuals. If you (as the registered agent) are away on vacation or otherwise unavailable when service of process arrives, there could be trouble. Of course, the chances of this happening are minimal, but it’s still a possibility.
Another aspect that many people consider is privacy. The address of the registered agent forms part of the public record in Wisconsin. That means anyone willing to do a quick search could have your details available freely.
Privacy seems to be the major stumbling block for most people. Perhaps that explains why many commercial agents highlight privacy as an advantage of hiring their services.
However, if these issues don’t faze you, go ahead and be your own registered agent.
Wisconsin Commercial Registered Agents
Wisconsin registered agent service is easily available to anyone looking to hire commercial agents. A quick search will usually provide you with a fairly exhaustive list of commercial registered agents offering their services in the state. For many of these companies, the services offered can go beyond the role of the registered agent.
The services on offer also decide the price. More often than not, you’ll find that commercial services start from as low as $50 annually, though there are plenty more who offer a different price. Be careful in your selection and pick the agent that best suits your requirements.
At the very least, you should expect the commercial agent to offer the following services:
- Professional Service
- Discreet Handling
How To Change Your Wisconsin Registered Agent
It is possible to change your Wisconsin Registered Agent by filing a form for the Change of Registered Agent. This form has to be filed with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Corporate and Consumer Services, Corporate Section.
You can file this form online through the WDFI website. Or, you can download a paper form and submit it via mail or in-person. Interestingly, there is no fee for changing the registered agent, but there’s a $10 fee for changing the registered address!
So, in most practical scenarios, you can expect to pay that fee.
Alternatively, an LLC can change its registered agent when filing the annual report. Since filing this report is a mandatory requirement for a Wisconsin LLC, it can be convenient to submit changes with the annual report. However, it is strongly advisable to change your agent when you need to, rather than waiting to file the change with the annual report.
When you change your LLC’s Wisconsin Registered Agent, it’s also useful to file the form for the resignation of the previous registered agent.