You can think of them as an alternative to a traditional law firm. An online legal service site connects you to independent legal experts who can help you form an s-corporation or c-corporation and offer bespoke legal services on an as-needed basis. If you don’t want to hire a personal attorney, a legal services site will find you a qualified expert to help you apply for licenses, create contracts, or submit documents without the commitment or fees associated with a traditional law firm. Legal services typically cater to small and medium business owners, though some offer services for personal legal matters as well.
The process is simple, which of course is the point. After submitting a form explaining the service you need, you’ll be assigned a professional who will discuss the particulars involved in that specific task. A lawyer can research, complete, and submit documents for you, or simply provide you with template forms and guidance to do it yourself. The process varies depending on the task needed, but the goal is to reduce the legwork on your end, whether by transferring it to an expert or providing as-you-go guidance to expedite the process.
One of the first choices a business owner faces is deciding which kind of business entity to open—a C corporation, S corporation, or LLC. Here’s what you need to know about each entity.
Limited Liability Company is an attractive concept for business owners, providing some personal financial protections from business downturns as well as flexibility in taxation and management. It can be taxed as a sole-proprietorship or multi-proprietorship, but either way, business owners avoid corporate tax and keep their personal bank accounts separate. Owners of LLCs are generally considered self-employed and subject to self-employment taxes. However, they may not issue stocks, they need to obtain a business license, and their businesses are not recognized outside of the United States. They are not subject to double tax either, so CEO’s will only pay personal taxes, which also, incidentally saves them a lot of time filling out paperwork.
A corporation is a company that is its own legal entity in the eyes of the government and is owned by shareholders. The stocks will belong either to the founders of the company or individual investors (or both). Like an LLC, it’s an official business that needs a business license and is separate from personal liability and personal assets. Because it’s taxed as an entity, shareholders will be “doubly taxed,” once on personal income and once on business income. This structure allows businesses to earn money or build partnerships abroad using investor funds to get the business off the ground. Nevertheless, a corporation must select a Board of Directors, and there is significantly more bookkeeping and reporting requirements than with an LLC.
A small business corporation is not actually a business type—it’s an IRS tax classification. Your business will be registered as either an LLC or C corp, but then it can qualify for S Corp status. Your business can become an S Corp business as long as it’s based in the U.S., has fewer than 100 members, and—if it’s a corporation—has only one class of shares. In an S corp, the corporation doesn’t pay tax on its profits, so they are only taxed as individual shareholders. This saves owners from the double taxation that C corps usually face. S corps are also subject to slightly less frequent reporting, which is a benefit over a traditional C corp tax classification. An S corp is subject to some additional scrutiny by the IRS, and it isn’t great for companies looking for venture capital funds.
The majority of legal service sites, including ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent, are directed at the needs of small or emerging C corporations and S corporations. Services range from opening your business to drawing up contracts, researching bylaws, registering trademarks, and applying for permits.
That said, there are online legal services that help with personal matters as well and pair you with legal experts who specialize in mortgage agreements, matters of immigration, power of attorney, and living wills.
The first step is to decide how much involvement you’d like to take on. Some sites offer legal forms and templates for you to fill out yourself, along with step-by-step instructions, guidance, and real-time edits to help you along. Other services offer to take care of the documentation themselves. For more extensive projects and those that require field research, such as patent and copyright filing, it’s best to find providers that understand the field and specialize in the intricacies of the matter at hand. If you’re launching a new business, you’ll want to find an expert who understands taxation, licensing, and state and local laws pertaining to C and S corporations.
Most importantly, though, you need to find a trustworthy company. Regardless of what you’re using the service for, chances are you’ll be sharing sensitive information and dealing with important matters. It’s important to pay attention to the company’s reviews and reputation. Make sure the website is professionally designed and includes working contact information. See how active they are on Facebook. These are all important factors in choosing the right legal service provider.
First and foremost, legal services will help you—the business owner—which will help your business develop or begin on the right foot. By taking on difficult legal procedures, such as forming a corporation, parsing out licenses and permits, and researching bylaws, a legal service site can eliminate hiccups that could easily stall the process, distract you from your business plan, and lead to fines and other red-tape violations. They can save you the expenses of a personal attorney while at the same time leaving you free to shift your attention to the specifics of your vision and the implementation of your business plan.
ZenBusiness makes starting a business simple and straightforward - by providing superior products, services, and support every step of the way. This service uses technology and automated processes to provide entrepreneurs with a fast, low-cost way to form and manage businesses. Over 50,000 new companies have already trusted ZenBusiness for formation in 2020.
Its all-in-one platform keeps legal documents, such as EINs and Operating Agreement templates, easily accessible and all in one place. As an added benefit, all ZenBusiness plans include their Registered Agent Service, which satisfies all legal requirements set by your state.
All of this, along with their 100% Accuracy Guarantee, is why ZenBusiness is a standout choice for business formation. We trust they'll help you get your business up and running in no time.
Tailor Brands makes it easy to set up an LLC for your business in any state. The company offers a simple online application and charges $49 for a standard LLC filing. Processing typically takes 4 weeks, but you can opt for expedited processing that takes as little as 6-8 business days. Tailor Brands can also help you get an employer identification number (EIN) and write an operating agreement for your LLC.
Tailor Brands also offers ongoing support for your business. The company can provide a registered agent in any state as well as file annual compliance paperwork on behalf of your business. In addition, Tailor Brands offers services for branding your business, including logo and website builders, SEO support, and more.
Northwest Registered Agent bypasses the annoying, and boasts corporate guides, privacy and data security with zero jargon. The aim is to make business matters simple for everyone, including business founders abroad who want to file for US-based businesses. It’s here to help you fill in the gaps and get your business rolling without anything, especially paperwork, tripping you up. It’s a suitable partner for both new and existing businesses for things like annual reporting and company formation for LLCs, corporations and nonprofits. If you use Northwest to register your business, you’ll get free Registered Agent Service for the first year. Each service offered is priced separately, so there are no subscription plans, and you’ll never pay for services you don’t need.
You’ll also find great customer service for both American residents and business owners abroad who want to open US LLCs. Customer service agents are easy to reach by phone or email, and the response time is less than 24 hours.