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Legal Zoom vs Biz Filings

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LEGAL ZOOM

First created in 1999, LegalZoom has served nearly four million customers across a broad spectrum of industries, through their self-guided legal services. Documents are available for topics like Intellectual Property, Wills & Trusts, and, of course, Business Formation.

We like LegalZoom's Satisfaction Guarantee: within 60 days of your purchase, you can contact this provider to request a full refund of any fees paid directly to them (in other words, you can't get a refund of any fees paid for filing with local governments or to any other third parties).

But, with respect to incorporating your company, you're probably going to find costs are substantially higher with LegalZoom. Let's take a look at their three packages:

  • Economy: the most basic package costs $149 (compared with other reputable services that cost $100 or less). In this package, you'll get a preliminary business name check, the filing of your Articles of Incorporation, personalized bylaws, resolutions of the first Board of Directors meeting, and LegalZoom's $50,000 Peace of Mind Guarantee.
  • Standard: the middle-tier package costs $239. In addition to the Economy package features, you'll also get a Corporate Kit (stock certificates, binder, official seal). You may not think that one feature is worth the extra $90.
  • Express Gold: LegalZoom's top package is priced at $369. You'll get all of the features of the first two levels, along with priority rush service, two-day delivery on your final package, and discounted/expedited Federal Tax ID and S-Corp elections. This is the only package that includes a 30-day trial of LegalZoom's Business Advisory plan (regularly $39.99/month) that gives you 30-minute attorney consultations for new legal issues, contract/document reviews up to 10 pages, and an annual business evaluation.

For all three packages, you can choose among a number of optional services. One of the most common - and important - is the Registered Agent Service. Many of the company incorporation services we reviewed include it for free during the first year, while others may charge $99 per year. LegalZoom's fees are $159 per year, and they are not included even with the highest package level.

On the one hand, clients report fairly fast turnaround times with LegalZoom's filing process and receiving your company incorporation documents at the end of the process. They also like how easy it is to complete the process from start to finish; even the least computer-savvy individuals report being able to get their business created easily with help from LegalZoom.

On the other hand, LegalZoom's company incorporation is significantly higher than many of the services we reviewed. And, because they're a company that serves thousands of customers, some people have commented that getting someone to help them has taken longer than they anticipated.

In general, LegalZoom is trustworthy, accurate, and quick when it comes to processing your company incorporation - just be prepared that you'll pay more for the packages they offer and for the add-ons that are often included at no extra cost with other services.

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BIZ FILINGS

BizFilings is an accredited business with the BBB and, at the time of our review, maintained a perfect "A+" rating there. But, we weren't able to find many reviews - positive or negative - from actual customers, particularly from the last 12 months. This suggests that BizFilings might not be doing the volume of company incorporations that some of their competitors have.

We like that BizFilings tries to give their prospective clients all of the information they need to decide what approach is right for their incorporation. You'll find the Incorporation Wizard right on their main page, which will walk you through important questions - and helpful explanations - regarding the size and owners of your business, how it'll be funded, what industry it pertains to, income and taxes, and future plans. You'll then get a list of company structures that might be right for you, along with details about each type, from C-Corps to LLPs. You'll find similar tools for gathering information with respect to Business Licenses and searching for your desired business name to see if it's available.

For your company incorporation through BizFilings, you'll have three main packages to choose from: Basic, Standard, and Complete. All of them come with Name Check and Document Filing, along with access to their proprietary BizComply online dashboard. This feature gives you an easy way to keep track of your business' deadlines for compliance and filing dates. There's also a document library you can use if you need more in-depth information on any topics within the company incorporation process.

The fees you pay for each package depends heavily on the state of incorporation. In general, you should expect costs from $99 to $175 for the Basic plan, $200-$300 for the Standard plan, and $250-$379 for the Complete plan. Here's what you can expect with each tier of service:

  • Basic: This package creates your business within your state. You'll get business name verifications, preparation and filing of all documents, and the BizComply access. BizFilings will also provide your Registered Agent Service free for six months: a perk not offered by most other company incorporation services. All other services are available as add-ons, such as Compliance Kit & Seal, EIN Obtainment, and customizable forms like Sample Bylaws. But, once you start adding those on, you'll likely get more for your money by choosing the Standard or Complete plan.
  • Standard: This plan comes with all of the features of Basic, with the additions of the Compliance Kit & Seal, customizable corporate forms, and expedited processing service. We're not sure those three things are worth the additional $90 - the price difference between Basic and Standard in our state of incorporation.
  • Complete: This package goes beyond Basic and Standard by including the Federal Tax ID (EIN) Obtainment and S Corporation Obtainment services, a compliance DVD, certified copy of state-filed documents, and the state tax ID form (where applicable), along with overnight shipping. In our state, the price difference between Basic and Complete was $100, and between Standard and Complete was only $20.

BizFilings then gives you a lengthy list of "extras" that you can select from their partner businesses, such as getting an 800 number for your company or a $50 credit towards posting a job on a listing site. We felt that this made BizFilings look a little less professional, since it seemed more designed to promote the third-party businesses and less to give you what might actually be useful for your newly-incorporated company.

Overall, BizFilings gives you some perks not typically included with other providers, like 6 months of free registered agent services, but their lower-tier packages tend to offer less than their competitors' while charging slightly more. You'll want to do your homework and make sure that the package you get through BizFilings is the best fit for your needs and your budget before choosing them for your company incorporation.

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Best Company Incorporation

To help you find the Best Company Incorporation, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Legal Zoom and Biz Filings.

Who has the best Company Incorporation Service? Are you a small business owner looking to protect yourself by separating your business from your personal assets? Or maybe you're a freelancer who wants to grow from a sole proprietorship to an agency, and you'd like to have the legal and brand benefits that come from adding "Inc." to your business' name?

Company Incorporation is a common strategy used in these situations - and many others - as business owners seek to take the next steps in growing their brand and protecting their assets. Setting up your business as a corporation can provide many benefits through creating a legal entity that is separate from its members: in other words, you can't be held legally responsible as an individual for the debts of your business.

There are several different types of corporate entities that business owners use for these purposes - Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), S-Corporations, C-Corporations, Non-Profit Corporations, and so on. The best way to choose the right corporation type for your business and also get it put into place in the most affordable way possible is to work with a Company Incorporation service. These providers offer the same guidance, document preparation assistance, and filing help as you would receive by meeting with a local attorney, but for fees that can often be thousands of dollars less.

As you consider the various Company Incorporation services currently available, you will want to keep several criteria in mind:

  • Services. What is included in the fees you'll pay? Most providers have several levels of incorporation packages, from basic to full-featured. Can you get all of the add-ons you might need, like filing your Articles of Incorporation with your state?
  • Cost. What will you pay for your company incorporation process? Is it a flat-fee, or are there a lot of extra charges? Bear in mind that every state has filing fees that are independent of the incorporation service.
  • Reputation. How many companies has the service incorporated? What do those clients have to say about the ease or difficulty of working with the provider to get everything prepared and filed? Does the incorporation service have a history of satisfied customers?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Company Incorporation services currently available. We hope this information helps you incorporate your business right away!



Why Should You Incorporate Your Business?

Perhaps you've been in business for a while and feel you want to formalize your status, legally and otherwise. Perhaps your business has been local to date, but you are looking toward operating in more than one state. Maybe you are competing with larger companies in the same niche and feel a change in legal status will bump up your credibility. Or maybe you just like the sound of the syllable "Inc." after your business name.

There are myriad answers to the question, "Why should you incorporate your business." Following are just a few:

Protect Your Assets
If you've owned a sole proprietorship, you know all too well that not only does the buck stop with you relative to operations, you're also on the hot seat when it comes to financial and legal complications that may arise. If a sole proprietorship stumbles under the weight of excessive debt or is taken to court, it's the proprietor's personal as well as business assets that are at risk. A corporation is a legal entity all its own. If your company faces legal issues or cannot meets its obligations, your personal assets do not come into play.

Gain Tax Advantages
When you incorporate your business, the IRS allows you to get a tax ID number for your business, establishing its status as a separate entity relative to tax liability. In fact, a corporation files its own tax return -- paying taxes on its profits -- at a complete remove from your individual return.

Separate tax identity alone can be enough justification for some to incorporate their businesses. Keep in mind, though, that when you incorporate, you and any other owners also become shareholders. If your company distributes dividends, you must pay taxes on that dividend income when you file your personal return.

Formalize Status
When you incorporate, you must make your business known to state, and sometimes local, authorities. Regulation specifics vary by state, but nearly universally, you must file articles of incorporation with your state's Secretary of State's office. In addition, you will have to create and record by-laws. Moreover, you'll have to set up a calendar of regular shareholder meetings; the minutes from those meetings must be recorded and kept on file at your company. The shareholders are required to elect a board of directors who must also meet regularly to make important decisions about the firm. Not surprisingly, establishing a corporate structure typically requires engaging the services of a lawyer or law firm.

Make a Name (or Two) for Yourself: State and Local Recognition
One key step toward incorporation is filing a business name with state and/or local authorities. If you want to do business under more than one name, you'll also need to file one or more fictitious business name statements. For example, if your company is called Snow Corporation, and you want to sell skis under the name "Speed Plus Company," you have to submit the appropriate paperwork to the relevant authorities.

Raising Capital
Finally, incorporating your business makes it possible to raise capital by selling shares to stockholders. Relying solely on bank or personal loans or company profits for financing will be a thing of the past.

The decision to incorporate should be a deliberate one. The administrative costs alone should be enough to deter you from entering into this new status lightly. Should you decide to take the plunge, incorporating could be a crucial step in your company's journey.

 



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