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Starting a business will come with a lot of legal requirements. You’ll need to apply for business licenses, purchase applicable insurance, pay your taxes, and ensure you aren’t violating established trademarks. Legal documents and legal forms are also involved in the incorporation process, and legal matters can be challenging to navigate. In addition to these examples, you’ll need to ensure that you’re protecting your assets.
The easiest way to achieve this goal is to register your business as a limited liability company (LLC). LLCs are relatively simple and adaptable business structures. Most small-business owners prefer to start an LLC when registering their company for several reasons. An LLC can help separate personal assets from business liabilities, provide various tax benefits, and requires minimal reporting/recordkeeping.
Registering your business can be tedious and overwhelming, especially if you don’t have experience with starting a new business from scratch. It’s such a hassle that dozens of companies now specialize in helping entrepreneurs start their businesses. One of the most popular options is LegalZoom.
What is LegalZoom?
LegalZoom is an online legal service provider that has been around since the turn of the millennium. The goal of LegalZoom is to “democratize law,” and it’s based on the principle that legal help should be easily accessible to everyone. LegalZoom has been working for more than two decades to provide legal advice to everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or economic status.
In the early days, LegalZoom was primarily focused on providing legal assistance with business formations, estate planning, and protecting intellectual property. After more than 20 years of being in business, LegalZoom has helped register more than 2 million businesses, meet the legal needs of their customers, and create more than 3.5 million estate planning documents.
LegalZoom still offers these services but has expanded into other fields as well. Their independent network of attorneys can provide personalized legal advice on virtually any topic. Also, the recently launched LZ Tax division is specifically focused on providing tax advice and accounting solutions for their customers. The company went public a year after the launch of this division and was valued at more than $7 billion.
Who should use LegalZoom?
The short answer to this question is that anyone who needs legal advice can benefit from using LegalZoom. The company has become a virtual one-stop shop for business, professional, and personal legal advice. These are just a few examples of issues that LegalZoom can help you resolve:
- Registering a business, applying for licenses/permits, and acquiring a tax ID
- Contractual agreements, residential leases, and property deeds
- Personal consultation, marriages, divorces, and separations
- Trademarks, copyrights, and patents
- Estate planning, last wills, living trusts, and power of attorney
How much does LegalZoom cost?
It can take a long time to cover all potential costs that could arise from using LegalZoom. For this review, the remainder of the information will revolve around the business formation aspects of LegalZoom.
The first thing that needs to be covered is the additional add-on services you can purchase. These mini packages of service will require a subscription to one of the pricing plans covered later on and include:
- Registered agent service ($159 to $299 annually). You can hire a LegalZoom registered agent to receive, scan, and forward all of your critical government-related documents.
- Creating an operating agreement ($99). This document details how your business plans to function regarding your management and finances.
- Creating an operating agreement/acquiring an EIN ($159). EIN stands for Employer Identification Number and functions like a Social Security Number for your business. It will allow you to hire employees, pay your taxes, and open a business bank account.
- Creating an operating agreement/acquiring an EIN/helping applying for permits and licenses ($199). You’ll likely need to apply for and be granted various permits and licenses to conduct business legally. These might be required on the local, county, state, and federal levels.
- Subscription package ($39.99 monthly). You’ll receive HR documents, employment agreements, and advisor sessions with a business attorney.
- Total compliance package ($280 annually). You’ll receive annual report service, corporate record-keeping assistance, and advice on keeping your personal assets separate from your business assets.
LegalZoom offers three pricing plans for its LLC formation services. Each tier includes all of the features of the previous one and a 60-day money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with your experience:
The Economy Plan will cost $79 plus the filing fees for the state and will take roughly 20 days to complete. These are the features included with this plan:
- Name availability check
- Articles of organization preparation
- Document filing with the state
- Peace of Mind review
- 30-minute tax savings consultation
- Digital LLC welcome packet
- Banking resolution
- Lifetime customer support
- LLC next step guide
- Financial account authorization letter
The Standard Plan will cost $329 plus the filing fees for the state and will take roughly 10 business days to complete. You’ll have all the features of the Economy plan as well as:
- Deluxe personalized founder’s kit that’s embossed with your company name
- 20 company membership certificates with a decorative seal
The Express Gold Plan will cost $349 plus the filing fees for the state and will take two to five business days to complete. You’ll have all the features of the Standard in addition to:
- Express shipping of all relevant documents with a tracking number
- VIP processing prioritizes your needs over customers in other tiers
What are the benefits of using LegalZoom?
There is no denying that LegalZoom is one of the premier providers of online legal services. A distinction such as that is bound to come with a long list of benefits. Here are a few of the most substantial reasons that you should consider using LegalZoom:
Decades of experience.
For more than 20 years, LegalZoom has been helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of starting their businesses. More than 2 million businesses were created by using LegalZoom services. You won’t find any other options with a proven track record that’s longer and more successful than LegalZoom. LegalZoom is so confident that you’ll be satisfied that they offer a free 100% money-back guarantee after 60 days of service with all packages.
Excellent customer support.
LegalZoom offers great customer service hours, lasting until 10 p.m. Eastern on weekdays and 7 p.m. Eastern on weekends. These industry-leading customer service hours are just the phones. You can also reach LegalZoom via email at any time or contact them on the LegalZoom website.
You’ll receive a more thorough, immediate answer via phone, but email support can help establish a dialogue during off hours. A customer service rep shouldn’t take very long to reach out during the appropriate hours after receiving your email.
Additionally, LegalZoom offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, providing excellent service and helping them secure lots of positive feedback in LegalZoom customer reviews.
Most entrepreneurs opt for the Economy package as it offers the most comprehensive features for the lowest price. However, every business is different and has different needs. LegalZoom allows the option to heavily customize your plan by adding other services you might need. Instead of paying for services you don’t need, you’ll be free to use the least expensive option and add on the ones you do.
Fast turnaround times.
The critical difference between the three pricing plans is how fast your business documents will be shipped. The cheapest plan might take a few weeks, but that’s still relatively fast for the industry. There are so many things that you’ll need to take care of when starting your business that it might be beneficial to have the time to focus on other essential factors. You won’t find faster turnaround times without paying more fees.
Legal service variety.
Even if you only intend to use LegalZoom to get your business up and running, it offers many other valuable legal services. The business legal assistance alone can be worth a subscription depending on your situation. If you’re all set on that front, it’s still possible that LegalZoom can assist you in other ways down the road. Building a solid relationship with them now can help you in the future.
Are there downsides to using LegalZoom?
There are a lot of benefits that come from using LegalZoom. However, it’s not a perfect company, and a few flaws are worth mentioning. These are the most common issues that users don’t like about LegalZoom:
It can be expensive.
The costs of LegalZoom are a bit higher than some of the competition. While the other services might not have the same levels of experience, they’re fully capable of successfully registering your business. You’ll have access to a wider variety of features for a cheaper cost.
Lots of upsells.
You’ll need to wade through several pages with upsells before reaching the package selection screen. LegalZoom will offer services that cost more than $1,000 combined before you even choose your pricing plan. It’s a bit excessive and can be a turn-off for many people.
Extra features are costly.
LegalZoom charges a hefty fee for employing the services of a registered agent. It isn’t challenging to find a registered agent that costs much less than the minimum of $159 annually. Additionally, LegalZoom will charge a hefty fee for helping you procure an EIN. All you have to do to get an EIN is ask the IRS for one, and they’ll give it to you for free.
The bottom line.
LegalZoom is one of the country’s most popular online legal service providers. Millions of people have sought out their legal plans over the years and have been highly pleased with the results.
There are a lot of tangible benefits that come from using LegalZoom’s business formation services. Their expertise can prove invaluable if you encounter any legal process or registration issues. However, using LegalZoom will cost you quite a bit of money. Other options offer more business-oriented features for cheaper.
LegalZoom can be an excellent choice to help you get your business started. But you should probably try a few other places first.
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