Friday, September 30, 2011

LLC Registered Agent, Part 4

We recently received an invoice from InCorp Services to renew them as the registered agent for our LLC, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had already applied the same price-guarantee discount we received last year to this year's price—without us having to reapply. InCorp's normal annual fee is $99, which is cheap compared to LegalZoom* at $159 per year, but we had to pay only $49. InCorp FTW!

For further information on registered agents, including whether your LLC needs one, and how to get the first year of InCorp's service absolutely free, review the first installment of this series. If you read carefully, you can also find the company that we cited to qualify for that huge price-guarantee discount; this company, unfortunately, only serves California, so if your LLC operates in another state, you'll have to do your own research.

If you decide to use InCorp Services after reading this blog post, please consider using our referral code.

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*We highly recommend LegalZoom for their LLC-formation service, which is of the highest quality; however, the price of their registered-agent service can easily be beat—in our case, by 69%.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Disclaimer Game, Part 2

As mentioned in part one, our website needs to have a Privacy Policy and Terms of Service before we open it to the public. Like most bootstrapped startups, however, we never seriously considered hiring an attorney to draft these legal disclaimers for us. Fortunately, the Web is chock full of examples, templates, and even generators that will come to your rescue.

After Mike and I did our research, we decided to use Automattic's privacy policy and terms of service, which are each available under a Creative Commons Sharealike license. In short, this means we are free to adapt the documents to our specific needs and to make commercial use of them. Automattic doesn't even require an attribution, though we are more than happy to oblige.

Unlike most of the other examples and templates available on the Web, these particular documents are being actively used, which adds a level of assurance that they will hold legal muster; in fact, Automattic uses them for widely visited websites, such as Wordpress.com. As they write:

"We spent a lot of money and time on [these documents], and other people shouldn’t need to do the same."

Another nice feature is the change log, which allows us to keep our privacy policy and terms of service in sync with theirs as they evolve over time. As Mike can attest, editing these documents will require some research as to which sections are actually applicable to your business, as well as which additions you will be required to make by third parties, such as any companies that run ads on your website.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Statement of Information Delays

Truth Rally recently received its very first collection letter—from the Secretary of State, no less. Blame it on budget cuts; not ours, but theirs. Here's what happened: Last October, we filed our Statement of Information (LLC-12R), along with a check for the $20 filing fee (because they do not permit LLCs to make online payments). Nearly four months later, in early February, we switched banks because Chase discontinued their free business checking accounts. I noticed at the time that we had one outstanding check. You guessed it!

I immediately contacted the Secretary of State's business entities department to inform them that they should not deposit that check, and that I would issue a new one. The woman with whom I spoke told me that they would simply send us a bill for the filing fee when they processed our form. I also sent them an email describing the situation, but never received a response. Several weeks later, we received the aforementioned collection letter, whose subject line reads "Dishonored Check." Somebody didn't pay attention. Luckily, they did not assess any penalties or interest charges, though they did require payment in the form of a certified check, cashier's check, or money order. Our new bank, Comerica, happily agreed to waive their normal cashier's check fee, so we ended up paying nothing extra.

As of today, the Secretary of State is processing Statements of Information received on December 6, 2010. Do the math: They are still nearly four months behind. This is the kind of inefficiency one expects only from a government agency. Don't worry, though, because they are working hard to slash those embarrassing processing times. It is not clear whether their "modernization" plans include full automation of the filing process; this would only require the addition of a Web payment system that any decent programmer could set up for them in a few hours. Given the incompetence of government, however, I'm not holding my breath.

Update: After eight weeks, I received a response to my email:

Due to filing backlogs we're currently experiencing, the processing of your statement/check for payment of filing fees was delayed in getting input into our system. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.