Are you starting an LLC in Arizona? We’ll cover everything you need to know about statutory agents in Arizona, including:
- What is a statutory agent?
- Why do you need a statutory agent in Arizona?
- Why it helps to work with a small business attorney
- FAQs about statutory agents in Arizona
- What to do if you need help
A statutory agent is the person or company who agrees to accept legal mail on behalf of your Arizona LLC. “Legal mail” includes official notices from the state and Service of Process of legal documents.
Under ARS 29-604, the statutory agent for an Arizona LLC must be one of the following:
- An individual Arizona resident
- A domestic corporation
- A limited liability company (LLC)
- A foreign corporation or LLC that’s authorized to do business in Arizona
Generally speaking, a statutory agent must be available during normal business hours to accept Service of Process. The actual definition of “normal business hours” is fairly vague, but it’s generally understood to be Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.
Furthermore, the statutory agent’s address must be a physical Arizona address. Using a P.O. Box for the agent’s address is not permitted.
Note that Arizona is one of the few states that use the term statutory agent. In most states, statutory agents are referred to as registered agents.
Why do you need a statutory agent in Arizona?
The obvious answer is that LLCs in Arizona are required by law to appoint a statutory agent. In fact, you won’t be able to file your Articles of Organization with the Arizona Corporation Commission (AZCC) until you choose a statutory agent.
More importantly, you need a statutory agent to ensure that you (the business owner) receive legal mail in a timely manner. Whether we’re talking about an important notice from the AZCC that requires immediate action or Service of Process for a complaint, summons, or subpoena, there may be devastating consequences if such communication doesn’t reach the business owner before a hard deadline.
If you’re shaking your head while thinking you won’t ever get sued, think again. In today’s litigious society, it’s never been easier for an angry customer, business partner, or employee to pursue legal action. Government agencies may also sue — or at the very least, launch a formal investigation — in response to alleged infractions of state or federal employment law.
In short, the excuse that you didn’t receive legal mail in time to meet a mandatory deadline or issue a legal response won’t cut it. Arizona courts provide ample time for couriers to complete Service of Process, and if the courier can’t reach you during that generous time window, the case will proceed without you.
Choosing a Registered Agent for Your Arizona LLC
It’s safe to say that many Arizona LLCs — especially small, owner-operated businesses — list the business owner as the statutory agent. More often than not, the statutory agent’s address for receiving legal mail is the business address.
Keep in mind, however, that the statutory agent must be available during normal business hours. If the business owner isn’t always in the office, it may be wise to choose another employee or business partner who will consistently be available.
Similarly, if the business address isn’t suitable for a statutory agent (e.g. it’s a P.O. Box or virtual address), you may need to list the agent’s personal address. If you’re the business owner and statutory agent, and you work from home, listing your home address for the statutory agent is perfectly acceptable.
There are some situations where choosing an external agent is advisable. In such cases, it may make sense to hire a third party company which specializes in serving as the statutory agent for Arizona LLCs.
While hiring a company to be your statutory agent is convenient and reliable, it’s an important decision that requires careful thought. It’s always a good idea to consult with a small business attorney before designating a third-party statutory agent.
Working with an Attorney to Register Your LLC in Arizona
Registering an LLC with the state of Arizona doesn’t require an attorney, though it certainly helps to have a seasoned legal professional to guide you through the process. Whether you pay a small fee to have an attorney assist you during registration or pay a retainer fee for more comprehensive, ongoing legal services, a small business attorney can help you get your business off the ground quickly while avoiding the pitfalls that lead to future problems.
A small business attorney can also help you choose the right type of business registration. LLCs are extremely popular in Arizona but they’re not the only option at your disposal, and depending on your intended structure and future expansion plans, it may be wise to consider alternate business types.
FAQs About Statutory Agents in Arizona
Q: Do I need a statutory agent in Arizona?
Yes. State law requires a statutory agent for all LLCs registered in Arizona.
Q: Can I be my own statutory agent in Arizona?
Yes. In fact, many business owners in Arizona serve as their LLC’s statutory agent.
That said, keep in mind that a statutory agent must be available during normal business hours. If you’re unable to fulfill that obligation due to service appointments or frequent travel, you’ll need to choose another statutory agent who can be available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.
Q: When does it make sense to hire a company to serve as the statutory agent in Arizona?
Serving as an LLC’s statutory agent is a small but critical role. When time-sensitive legal mail arrives, it’s up to the statutory agent to deliver the official notice or court documents in a timely manner.
If you cannot serve as your own statutory agent and there isn’t a reliable party within your company who can fulfill the obligation, it may be wise to hire a third party organization that specializes in serving as statutory agent. Such companies maintain a physical address in Arizona that’s staffed during normal business hours, and unlike your assistant who calls in sick every other week, they can be counted on to deliver legal mail in a timely manner.
Even better, hiring a third party agent eliminates the need to change your statutory agent when an internal employee who fills that roll leaves your company, or if you reach a point where you cannot fulfill the role yourself due to travel obligations.
What to Do If You Need Help Setting Up an LLC in Arizona
Don’t let the fear of “hiring an attorney” keep you from seeking sound legal advice. If you need advice or assistance, discuss your business plan with a small business attorney before filing your Articles of Organization with the state.
Call JacksonWhite’s Small Business Law Team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.