Registering a business is MUCH easier than it used to be, thanks in part to services like LegalZoom. That said, LegalZoom is starting to show it’s age…
As one of the early pioneers, LegalZoom long held the benefits of being the first mover in the space, simplifying the process of registering a business virtually.
BUT, in recent years a large variety of digital registered agent services and service providers have popped up. While I’m always careful about “new” services online, there are definitely a handful of services that are 1) easier to use, 2) more affordable, and 3) offering better features than LegalZoom.
This is honestly why I no longer use LegalZoom, despite using them for over 5 years in the 2010s.
So what ARE the best alternatives to LegalZoom? Well, here’s an overview of the internal ranking list I personally created before I switched:
Table of Contents
- 1 #1 Incfile
- 2 #2 ZenBusiness
- 3 #3 Northwest Registered Agent
- 4 #4 Swyft Filings
- 5 #5 Inc Authority
- 6 #6 CorpNet
- 7 #7 Filenow
- 8 #8 Rocket Lawyer
- 9 #9 LawDepot
- 10 #10 MyCompanyWorks
- 11 #11 BizFilings
- 12 Best Registered Agent for Canada: Ownr
- 13 Final Note: Best Alternatives to LegalZoom
Summary: Incfile is definitely the first place to consider. It’s the service that I currently use (and love). The core services are all around setting up and managing your business entity, specifically LLC formation service, S Corporations, C Corporations, and Non Profits.
- Very easy to use with a modern dashboard and email alerts & reminders (much easier to navigate than LegalZoom)
- Core focus on business formation (LegalZoom does much more, somewhat convoluted)
- Affordable with formation fees starting at $49 + state fees.
- No annual contract or hidden fees
- Plenty of supplemental educational information, including a “Learning Center”
- Research packages available for specific state license requirements
- Easy to switch from another registered agent provider (they can often waive any fees or penalties associated)
- Primarily focused on business entity management (can be advantage or disadvantage depending on your needs)
- They do push upsells to higher packages + affiliates with other institutions (e.g. banking referrals – all optional), so don’t just click “next” on everything
- Primarily web based (there is a sales support number, but it’s buried in the site).
Incfile Prices: $49 + state fees per annum, regardless of entity type. Additional higher packages for legal advice and tax IDs (Gold- $149), additional website and domain name (Platinum – $299).
Summary: ZenBusiness offers a much more automated and streamlined barebones registered agent service, with less hand holding and sales tactics but perhaps the fastest process from start to finish.
- Simple and straightforward self service
- Competive starting price point (ties Incfile)
- Minimal upsells and sales tactics
- Unique “worry free guarantee” service $110 per year (will handle catchup compliance if you miss a deadline, report filing, amendments, etc…)
- Knowledgeable live chat support
- No live phone support (only live chat interface)
- No extra servicese outside business setup and reporting compliance
- Minimal value to higher tier plans (basically just expedited or rushed filing + worry free guaranttes, EINs, and domain names)
Summary: Northwest is another service similar to Incfile, focusing specifically on the role of Registered Agent and initial business filings. Northwest also offers some additional perks like mail forwarding and virtual office setup.
Northwest Agent Advantages
- Offers Registered Agent as a stand-alone service if that’s all you need
- Also offers mail forwarding and virtual office services
- More available for phone support than LegalZoom or Incfile
- Plenty of free legal forms
- No high pressure sales tactics, limited pushy upsells
- Simple flat registered agent fee
- Multi-state registration plans
Northwest Agent Disadvantages
- No formal legal advice beyond agent and incorporation services
- Base registered agent price is more expensive than base Incfile ($49 vs $125)
Northwest Prices: Northwest charges a standard Registered Agent fee of $125 + state fees for the core offering.
Summary: Offering standard registration services for C Corps, S Corps, LLCs, Non Profits, and DBAs, Swyft (like the name suggests) is all about getting your business set up quickly, with a laser focus on registered agent services.
Swyft Filings Advantages
- Emphasis on direct phone sales consults with an easy to find number (compared with Incfile, ZenBusiness)
- Also offers DBA services (relatively unique, but more obscure)
- Basic business incorporation starts at $49
Swyft Filings Disadvantages
- Minimal add-on services
- Relatively opaque pricing tiers (you have to get further down the funnel, beyond the $49 basic service to figure out the upsells)
Swyft Filings Prices: $49 basic incorporation service, variable pricing beyond (buffet menu of options).
Summary: Inc Authority is a brand new service (started end of 2019) offering a similar level of service to LegalZoom, but offering a better overal incorporation and formation experience and service.
Inc Authority Advantages
- 100% FREE entity formation (not including state filing fees)
- Prominently featured phone support
- Advanced packages offer tax consultations
- Advanced packages offer business funding and credit accelerators
- Easy 4-Step process to register
Inc Authority Disadvantages
- Very new to the scene in 2019, will they stick around?
- Only does LLC formations and Corporations
- Lots of upsells (make sure you uncheck boxes during checkout to take advantage of the “Free” service)
Inc Authority Prices: Inc Authority offers 100% FREE barebones entity formation (not including state fees). YES, we actually checked by registering an entity… They do offer premium packages if you need additional services like EIN registration, Operating Agreements, Tax Consultation, etc…
Summary: CorpNet is another full-suite business registration service, covering LLCs, Corporations, Non Profits, and DBAs. It feels a bit more geared towards corporate setups, including trademark registration services and even corporate office supplies.
- Federal Trademark Registration service
- Special section dedicated to Law Offices and Accounting Firms (to offer as a value added offering)
- Basic package only includes 60 days of registered agent services included
- Not the cheapest for basic LLC setup and filings
Summary: Filenow is even more recent and they are attempting to one-up the market leaders like Incfile with faster service and more complimentary services included.
The short answer? Filenow is affordable and offers a money-back guarantee. It's one of the quickest and easiest setups around, with a simple four-step process. If time is of the essence, Filenow is a great choice for you!
- Comparable or cheaper than most other online filing services (e.g. Incfile)
- 100% money back guarantee
- 24-hour order processing
- Only takes about 15 minutes to complete the application
- Free Express Shipping
- Short time in business, will they stick around?
- Only offers LLC and corporate formation
#8 Rocket Lawyer
Summary: Rocket Lawyer not only handles your basic business setup and compliance items, but offers a robust legal retainer service “in case you need it” covering a wide variety of business law questions and legal form documents. Great for businesses in need of semi-regular and variable legal consults with a live lawyer (or just as an insurance policy).
Rocket Lawyer Advantages
- Offers a monthly retainer fee of $39.99 for legal consults and document reviews
- Closest substitute for hiring an attorney or engaging a law firm for hourly legal services
- Also offers one-time fees for consults and document reviews that are reasonably priced per hour
- Registered Agent services are discounted (25% off $149) if you are also on the legal retainer plan
- Also offers personal legal services and lawyer specialists for areas like estate planning, marriage and divorce (similar to LegalZoom)
- Available via email, chat, and phone for advice (promises response within 1 business day)
Rocket Lawyer Disadvantages
- Stand-alone basic Registered Agent setup fee is more expensive (particularly without the discount) when compared to Incfile and ZenBusiness
- Recurring monthly retainer fee is only “worth it” if you use it enough
Rocket Lawyer Prices: $39 per month for legal advice retainer from Rocket Lawyer, otherwise $149 for Registered Agent services and variable one-off legal services ranging from $30-50 per hour or document reviewied).
Summary: LawDepot has the feel of buffet for legal documents, legal forms and template legal solutions. Pick and pay for what you need versus pricey bundles, without needing to pay a lawyer.
- Can purchase (or download for free) a wide array of specific legal agreements and documents on their own (good for DIY filings, setup)
- Offers confidentiality agreements, bill of sale, purchase agreements and many other helpful one-off docs
- Extremely easy to use document wizard to guide you through legal document personalization
- Relatively affordable legal services if you can DIY (better than engaging law firms or an hourly attorney)
- Offers a live phone number for online legal service consults
- No formal Registered Agent service offered
- Still requires manual filing
- No bundle discounts
LawDepot Prices: Varies per document, but no recurring cost. For example, you can check the cost on this LLC Operating Document here.
Summary: MyCompanyWorks narrows down on LLCs and Corporate registrations specifically and the site feels very much geared towards starting and managing a company (versus ancillary services and legal advice).
- A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
- In business since 2001 (long track record, trusted)
- Also offers DBA business formation services
- Also offers Virtual Office services
- Ability file Foreign Qualifications and Amendments
- Ability to speak to an agent live via a 1-800 number
- Limited additional services
- No non-profit registration services
- No formal legal advice service
MyCompanyWorks Prices: Starts at $79 + state fees for basic registration.
Summary: BizFilings offers the widest array of registration services and business formation services, including non-profits, DBAs, and LLPs, PC/PLLCs, in addition to standard LLC formation and Corporations.
- In depth state by state supplementary guides (for free)
- Includes educational topics on HR and business financing
- Offers state-based business license research
- Offers “BizComply” as a stand-alone compliance service for $75 per year to stay on top of state requirements
- Live 1-800 support available
- One of the more expensive services, starting at $99 and up to $359 + state fees
- Interface is a bit more dated (reminds me of LegalZoom)
Best Registered Agent for Canada: Ownr
If you are specifically a Canadian business looking to incorporate in Canada, Ownr is THE solution. Right now, it’s one of the few services that provided a similar level of expertise and automation as the U.S. providers.
Keep in mind that as of 2020 Ownr only is available in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario as a Canadian registered agent service.
Ownr Pricing: Federal Incorporation starts at $619 (including fees), then Provincial Incorporation at $619, and Sole Propietorship is $89.
Final Note: Best Alternatives to LegalZoom
As you can see, there are a LOT of alternatives out there for business formation, with different flavors depending on what you are looking for as a business owner.
Overall, here’s my bottom line on the best services.
- Best LegalZoom Alternative for Business Formation: Hands-down, this is Incfile for me. Easy to setup and manage, with affordable fees.
- Best LegalZoom Alternative for Legal Documents: If you are not necessarily looking for a business setup service, but need specific template documents, go with LawDepot here.
- Best LegalZoom Alternative for Legal Advice: If you just need a good legal team on retainer, go with the legal plan offered by RocketLawyer here.