Why Compare Northwest vs LegalZoom?
Ready to form your own limited liability company (LLC), but not too sure how to go about with the formation procedure? Then you’ve come to the right place! Many LLC service providers offer registered agent services to help kickstart your company. Among the LLC formation service providers, Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom stand out as one of the top companies.
Setting up a small Limited Liability Company (LLC) is becoming increasingly popular among entrepreneurs since it’s a more flexible and sensible way to do business. However, it is important for you to have a registered agent that acts as your official business address for official documentation. Hence, it is important for you to pick the right registered agent service that can help you with your business – and not cause more problems.
In today’s Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom, we will be discussing what’s great and what’s not-so-great about each registered agent service provider in hopes of answering any questions you may have on which company provides the best service for your new LLC.
What is LegalZoom?
LegalZoom was formed back in 1999 and has since then worked with 3 million customers, helping more than a million businesses with their formation process. The company has allocated a huge advertising budget, making itself a well-known brand with a long corporate reach.
LegalZoom places much emphasis on the innovative use of computer technology to make legal services more accessible. This has won them an entrepreneurial spirit recognition by the American Bar Association.
The company began with ten web-based products including estate planning, business formation, and intellectual property protection. Now they offer a full range of legal services for business and are a great choice for anyone starting a Limited Liability Company, corporation, or non-profit.
What is Northwest Registered Agent?
Northwest Registered was actually formed before LegalZoom back in 1998 and has had around 2 million customers under their belt. While they’re not as large as LegalZoom, they’re not small either. The company helps hundreds of new Limited Liability Companies every day.
Northwest Registered Agent is family-owned and does not have a sales team. Instead, the company relies on its great service and word of mouth to spread its business. The solid reputation and trust that Northwest Registered Agent has built up are very impressive and they make for a great option for those looking to set up a Limited Liability Company, or those seeking to find a new Registered Agent Service provider.
Commonalities Between LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent
Both LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent are capable of handling every step of your LLC formation procedure in a professional manner so that you don’t have to dive into the specifics and stress about the formalities yourself.
The companies are even there to help you handle all the legal red tape too. All you need to do is answer a few simple questions about your business, pay a small fee and they’ll take care of the rest.
Here are a few LLC formation services they both LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent have in common:
- Fast, professional team with plenty of experience to form your LLC.
- Potential to save you hundreds of dollars compared to hiring a business lawyer.
- Both companies offer many business services that are beyond your LLC formation service, such as maintaining your LLC.
- Both services have safe and user-friendly websites loaded with options and information.
- Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom each package some other valuable features in their LLC formation services, adding a considerable amount of value to their packages.
- Both offers trained customer support experts that are available to assist you if anything goes wrong.
LegalZoom vs Northwest Registered Agent – Main Differences
While they’re both offering similar services, they’re not the same, and here are some of the main differences between LegalZoom vs Northwest Registered Agent Service:
- Pricing: LegalZoom offers lower prices on the surface starting at $79 (plus state fee), but Northwest Registered Agent provides more LLC formation services for the money.
- Registered Agent Service: Northwest provides a full year of registered agent services with their LLC services, whereas LegalZoom offers a reduced price of $159 on your first year of registered agent services.
- Customer Volume: LegalZoom is an industry giant and is a better-known brand serving millions of customers, whereas Northwest Registered Agents rely more on word of mouth thanks to their excellent service. Northwest Registered Agent has plenty of experience in their own right but they’re more of a mid-sized company compared to LegalZoom.
- Customer Reviews: Since LegalZoom has more customers, it also means that they have more total reviews available online compared to Northwest Registered Agent. However, the customer reviews for LegalZoom are mixed in quality. Northwest, on the other hand, only has a few dozen pieces of online customer feedback but they’re mostly positive.
- Turnaround Times: Northwest Registered Agent bases your turnaround times on how long they expect your state of formation to take when processing your order (you can also choose to pay more for expedited services), their turnaround times may be quicker in some states and slower in others. LegalZoom’s estimated turnaround time is based on which package you’ve subscribed to and does not vary by state.
- Customer Support: Both companies have solid support with highly trained US-based support agents. Northwest Registered Agent has better customer service where each customer gets a Corporate Guide assigned to their specific account, meaning you get to talk to the same person whenever you have a person. LegalZoom, on the other hand, has a more standard call-center type of customer service experience, it is adequate but not outstanding.
LegalZoom offers a wide range of business services that include:
- Setting up different types of companies: LLC, non-profit, corporation, etc.
- Offer other personal legal services including wills, estate planning, etc.
- Gives professional advice and services on intellectual property.
- A well-known and respected brand with a history of innovation.
- Gives you direct access to an attorney.
Ease of Use
The very first step you’ll need to take in the LLC formation process is to pick a name for your business and tell the service provider company which state you plan to do business in. After that, LegalZoom will take you through their range of services that will help make your life much easier. However, do take note that LegalZoom’s LLC formation fee is just for the LLC, all other services you select are “add-ons”, meaning it will add cost to your package.
LegalZoom’s website is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. However, it is very obvious that the company keeps trying to sell you something else as you get different pop-ups every time you press something or go to a new page. This can get annoying for some people.
LegalZoom Products and Services Available
On top of helping business owners set up their Limited Liability Companies, LegalZoom is also experienced in establishing S Corporations, C Corporations, Non-Profits, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorship businesses.
LegalZoom also has Business Naming Services that include registering a DBA, checking if the business names are available, and trademarking your business name to ensure your business is run correctly and that your brand is protected.
LegalZoom also offers business compliance services, trademarking monitoring, and other trademark filings on top of their registered agent service.
LegalZoom offers a pretty standard package of helping LLC completing and filing documents in the relevant states that you want to set up your business in. The three LLC packages offered include Economy, Standard, and Express Gold at different prices.
The main difference between these three packages is the turnaround time. With the Economy package, you can expect a turnaround time of 30 days, the Standard package takes 15 days, and the Express Gold has a turnaround time of 7-10 days.
LegalZoom lets you keep track of your LLC formation process through an online tracking service. As you click on the button to set up an LLC, the website will take you through a range of pages that the company offers including Operating Agreements, Tax, and Legal guidance, each of which you can add to your package at an extra cost.
While these services are extremely helpful, you need to remember that they’re not part of the base price and can be purchased as an ‘add-on’ to your package for a monthly fee.
Registered Agent Service
When you purchase LLC formation packages with LegalZoom, the company offers a discounted package for 1-year of Registered Agent Service of $159 instead of the normal annual price of $299.
As part of the registered agent service, LegalZoom offers Business Data Protection which is an insurance against identity theft, a compliance calendar to keep you updated with your annual report and tax return deadlines, cloud storage to store all your important documents.
LegalZoom will also act as your official state correspondence or contact for receiving court documents, tax notifications, annual report notices, and Secretary of State notifications. Since they’re your registered business address, they’ll also be the ones receiving junk mail which they will filter and shred for you.
Northwest Registered Agent Features
Here are some key features of Northwest Registered Agent:
- Full registered business address use.
- Each customer has a dedicated, well-trained Corporate Guide for solving problems.
- Initial resolutions.
- Annual reporting compliance.
- Same-day business filing.
- Custom-drafted articles.
- Online access to formation documents.
- Membership or stock certificates.
- Set price packages to help with decision-making.
Ease of Use
The Northwest Registered Agent has an easy-to-use website with a very straightforward checkout process. The online forms are easy to fill and the company does not have any surprise hidden costs
One highlight of the Northwest Registered Agent website is that they’ve included a list of questions or areas to look at under each aspect of their business. This means that you can find all the relevant information you want or need about the different services they offer before agreeing or signing up for anything. On top of that, Northwest Registered Agent offers a straight-up package where you know what’s included and exactly what you’re paying for.
Northwest Registered Agent Products and Services Available
The two key packages that Northwest Registered Agent focuses on are LLC Formation and Registered Agent Services. However, they’re also capable of helping clients set up nonprofits and corporations, making them an ideal choice for anybody looking to start their business or somebody who is looking for a new registered agent service provider.
Northwest Registered Agent Service also offers other services as well such as mail forwarding, virtual offices, employer identification numbers, corporate book, and seal.
Different states have different LLC formation regulations and turnaround times. Some processes are faster in certain states and some are slower. You should also be aware that the price charged by Northwest is their fee on top of whatever is charged by the state (just like most other LLC formation companies).
This could mean that you may pay different fees for different states – you could pay $150 to set up an LLC in Illinois but only $50 in Michigan.
The LLC formation package provided by Northwest Registered Agent includes a namecheck service where the company will search through the state database to ensure that the company name you want is available. They will then begin preparing your business articles, outlining your business appropriately to ensure a smooth approval process for the formation of your LLC.
While Operating Agreements are not mandatory, they are a great way for business owners to set out the ownership structure of their businesses. They’re tedious but luckily Northwest Registered Agent offers this service along with helping you set up your Federal Tax Number or Employer Identification Number.
Northwest Registered Agent will get your business documents processed on the same day they’re received and you even get to track the real-time status of your LLC formation through the online tracking. The LLC formation package includes the first year of Registered Agent Service.
Registered Agent Service
The Registered Agent Service is the company’s bread and butter – it’s even on their name! Their LLC formation package comes with 1 year of Registered Agent Service for free, 2nd year onwards it’ll cost you $125 per year.
As a registered agent, the company acts as your official correspondence where it’s responsible to receive government documents and notifications on your behalf. Northwest will also offer pre-filled state forms for you, send you reminders on when your annual reports are due, as well as a wide range of other business services.
One thing that sets Northwest apart from its competitors is that the company will scan every document they receive on your behalf and have them uploaded on their system for easy access. When you subscribe to their package, you get lifetime support from their Corporate Guides and a guaranteed standard annual price.
Does Northwest Have Better Customer Support Than LegalZoom?
The company has dedicated customer support representatives called Corporate Guides that are designated guides for customers, so that means you get to contact them directly for any question or concerns. You don’t need to go through different people in customer service just to get an answer.
The guides are very knowledgeable and are trained with most issues that you may possibly come across. Online user reviews are very positive about the company as a whole, but they are particularly positive about the excellent customer support they offer. In fact, the company prides itself on answering calls and emails quickly and thoroughly.
In contrast, LegalZoom prepared a Q&A and Knowledge Centre section on their website. The company also lets customers send them a message from the site itself. The company also has a dedicated customer support team where their phone lines are open from 5 am to 7 pm PT on weekdays and 8 am to 4 pm on weekends.
However, LegalZoom does have mixed reviews online regarding its customer support. You usually get quick and pretty accurate responses on the phone, but you need to prepare to wait for a full week for a response via email. And even if you do get a response, it might not be the one you’re looking for.
Pros & Cons
- Offers all business legal requirements you may require.
- More than 20 years of experience in the business.
- Good customer service.
- Offers additional services such as drafting contracts.
- Money-back guarantee.
- Not easy to get a clear price for each service offered and the starting price stated could be misleading.
- Customer support on email queries might not be the best.
- Excellent customer support with dedicated Guides
- Good security and solid experience in the business.
- Rely on their own service to grow sales instead of spending money on sales and marketing.
- Free registered agent services for the first year in the LLC formation service package.
- The company will match any cheaper prices you find for these services.
- Not many reviews are available online.
- Starting price point could be quite high.
LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agents Pricing Comparison
Form an LLC – LegalZoom’s starting price is $79 and it includes helping you prepare and file your articles of organization. Its services also include a banking authorization letter to help you open up a business bank account. State fees for forming an LLC are added to different packages.
While the higher price package offers some limited extra services to help you form an LLC, the main difference is in its filing speed. The Express Gold package even comes with customer support 7 days a week, lifetime customer support.
Registered Agents – The normal fee for LegalZoom’s registered agent service is $299 per year but the company offers a reduced price of $159 for the first year if you subscribe to their LLC service package. With the package, LegalZoom also provides a compliance calendar to remind you of annual reports and tax deadlines.
Northwest Registered Agent
Form an LLC – Northwest’s package starts at $225 plus state fee and they help you prepare your articles of organizations and file with your state to form your company. The package also includes 12 months of registered agent services.
Registered Agents – Northwest’s registered agent services cost $125 per year. However, they do offer a discounted price of $100 if you need their services in five or more states. The company includes local scanning and free online tools like annual report compliance reminders.
Final Verdict: Is LegalZoom Better Than Northwest For You?
Even though both are great company formation service providers, there are plenty of differences between Northwest and LegalZoom. There are certain aspects of Northwest’s services that are much more appealing and they offer better overall value despite the slightly higher starting price.
Most importantly, Northwest includes a full year of their premium registered agent service at no extra charge, unlike LegalZoom. On top of that, Northwest even throws in a more consistent and dedicated customer support.
However, there may be other reasons why you would choose LegalZoom over Northwest. Here are a few scenarios that could help you make your choice on which LLC service is the right one for you.
When is Northwest better?
If you’re looking for a formation and registered agent with the best customer support in the industry, then perhaps you might want to consider Northwest since they offer high value in their services. This is especially true since Northwest offers free registered agent services for the first year of their business formation package.
When is LegalZoom better?
If you’re looking for a formation and registered agent service that’s far more well-known with a high volume of customers, then LegalZoom would be the better choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Northwest handle extra state requirements like New York Publication?
While Northwest provides a lot of help with state-specific requirements like publication, they stop short of offering to take care of it for you entirely. For example, Northwest allows their clients to use their Albany address as their principal office in New York and they provide the step-by-step guide to completing the rest of the publication requirement, but they don’t do it for you.
Which incorporation service has fewer upsells?
Northwest has fewer upsells compared to LegalZoom. In fact, LegalZoom actually pushes upsells like no other company in the industry, you may even need to navigate your way through thousands of upsells before you can even choose your preferred formation packages.
Can I register an LLC on my own without a service?
Yes, you can register an LLC on your own without a service, however, we do not typically recommend this as each state has its own interpretation of how the LLC incorporation process goes. So if you form your own, you’ll need to study and research a lot to familiarize yourself with the exact rules and regulations of your specific state.
Starting a business correctly doesn’t have to be difficult. With over 15 years of experience consulting new businesses and start ups, Matthew is probably the best person to help you set a strong foundation for your business.