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We all know that attorneys cost money, and if you’re a startup, or an entrepreneur wanting to set up a new company (forming a limited liability corporation or forming an S or C corporation), funds are usually tight.
We will be compare two of the top online legal resrouces: LegalZoom vs Incfile – both of which provide online legal advice but focus on different areas.
If you’re reading this and you’ve already launched your brand, then we’ll assume that like many new companies, you’re experiencing some kind of legal issue.
If you can relate, you might be considering using an online legal services company. If so, you’re in the right place because we’re going to review both LegalZoom vs Incfile — both of which provide online legal advice (including agent service) but focus on different areas. So, we’re going to look at both providers, and give you a heads up on which is best for your needs.
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The main differences between LegalZoom and Incfile are:
In common with many other online legal services, both offer customer service support, information, and advice without the enormous cost of hiring an in-house attorney / lawyer (law firm) or paying a hefty hourly bill.
So, without further ado, let’s jump straight into this review!
Both sites help you set up your company, whether it’s a corporation, a non-profit, a partnership, or to form an LLC and assist you with business compliance — for example, filing and submitting annual reports.
LegalZoom will file for copyright, trademark or patent. It also offers more than 100 custom legal forms and allows you to speak with an attorney should you need more detailed legal help. They’ll also help you with wills, estate plans, and living trusts. They emphasize that they can provide you with all-round legal advice at home and work.
Interestingly, Incfile helps you prepare and file tax returns, whereas LegalZoom only puts you in touch with a tax professional who can advise you on what you need to do.
For LegalZoom’s monthly fee, you’ll get access to 30-minute consultations with an attorney, and their lawyers will review your legal documents. They’ll also give your company a yearly “look over” to ensure your company isn’t breaking any rules. You’ll be pleased to hear that LegalZoom has independent attorneys in every state.
Both sites have a single flat fee rather than an hourly rate.
However, neither site is a substitute for an actual real-life attorney, and it’s important to remember that — especially if you’re facing a lawsuit against your business.
Overall, Incfile is cheaper than LegalZoom to form an LLC or corporation and offers much more in its overall pricing structure. Unfortunately, LegalZoom’s frequently criticized online for its upselling techniques and lack of transparent pricing. Side Note: I agree. As a new business owner back in 2015 I was roped into a whole bunch of services and filing requirements that I didn’t need.
Whichever package you go for, the following are always included for ownders and operators:
There are three packages to choose from
The Silver package includes next-day filing of company formation papers with the state (e.g. LLC formation services), company name availability search, and phone and email support.
Whereas the Gold package entitles you to advise on corporate bylaws, an operating agreement, preparing and filing of IRS Form 2553, employer identification/tax ID, corporation minutes, and banking resolution. You also get express shipping with any of your incorporation documents. That said, if you don’t need an operating agreement (single member LLC, Sole Propietor), then this is a bit overkill.
Lastly, the Platinum package offers all the above expedited documents plus a business website and domain name, although sometimes there are discounts available for this if you opt for one of their cheaper packages. You’ll also get faster filing with the state.
*Plus state filing fees
You need to bear in mind that each state has different filing fees. The LegalZoom website allows you to locate your state and gives you the filing price.
It’s was undoubtedly harder for us to get a hold on LegalZoom’s pricing structure. They say they offer flat fee pricing, yet there isn’t even a link to a pricing page (that we could find anyway).
Whereas Incfile guarantees next day business filing, here, filing can take anywhere between 20 to 35 business days depending on which package you go for.
All packages include the following:
You should note: The Standard and Express Gold packages also give you a deluxe organizer embossed with the name of your business, 20 personalized company membership certificates, an official company seal, and LegalZoom VIP processing.
However, only the Express Gold package includes faster company filing (seven to ten days) and express mailing. Plus, some of LegalZoom’s Express Gold packages come with a free short-term subscription to QuickBooks Online. This is especially handy for solopreneurs and small business owners who need a helping hand with their accounts.
Its website allows you to check whether or not your proposed company name exists or not (including the state you expect to file in). If you’re unhappy with the company, you can request a 100% refund within the first 60 days for any money that’s gone directly to LegalZoom. That doesn’t include anything you’ve paid for government filings or third-party services.
Whichever package you choose, you can select other optional services, in particular, you’ll be offered 30-day free trials of services like Total Compliance and Legal Protect. After your 30 day trial, you’ll then be billed at $300+ per year to access these extras.
Incfile has a help center where you can ask a question by email or call them up Monday through Friday. However, there’s no weekend help — which can be a pain for startups. There’s also a messaging tool you can access at the bottom corner of every page.
You can email questions to LegalZoom too and call them between 5 am, and 7 pm, Monday to Friday, and 7 am to 4 pm on Saturday. There’s also an FAQ section on both sites.
Incfile was named one of the 360™ Best Entrepreneurial Companies by Entrepreneur Magazine. It has over 8,000 Shopper Approved five-star ratings and has an A+ Accredited Business, Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating.
Incfile is a much smaller company than LegalZoom, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons users consistently rate it highly, including its customer service. Reviewers report getting straight through to a customer support agent when they called, whereas calls to LegalZoom can sometimes take a lot longer.
If filing speed is essential to you, then Incfile is definitely better than LegalZoom. Even if you go for the most expensive LegalZoom package, filing still takes between seven and ten business days. So, if you’re in a rush, this is well worth thinking about.
In short, with LegalZoom, you need to spend more to ensure your company filing gets done within the same month! This seems a little harsh. It feels as though they’re holding you to ransom unless you pay more.
Over four million people use LegalZoom, with over two million of those having used them to help them start up a business, and 450,000+ using one-on-one attorney consultations. Trustpilot reviewers score it highly, with an average four out of five-star rating. Plus, there are plenty of positive testimonials plastered on their website — both from business owners and people using their services for personal legal matters, like buying a home.
However, in general, there are more mixed reviews, with complaints about poor customer service and costs in particular. Reviewers complain that it takes ages to get an email response, whereas Incfile usually responds back relatively quickly.
LegalZoom only gets a 1.5 rating out of five on the BBB site! However, it’s worth mentioning that customers tend to enjoy the fuller range of legal services LegalZoom provides.
Note: For both of these services you will still need to separately apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can do with the IRS directly here (it’s actually relatively easy to get an EIN – many times instantaneously).
Answer: Incfile is a comprehensive legal service company helping users from businesses, register for necessary state filings, and manage legal filings throughout the calendar year based on entity type.
Answer: While anyone is legally allowed to act as their own agent, a physical address in the respective state and jurisdiction is required. A Registered Agent service not only allows you to register in any state, but also guides users through the setup process, automating many of the tedious (but legally obligated) steps.
Answer: It varies by service provider, but a Registered Agent service typically costs between $100 and $400 per year. If you are paying more for an agent, you are probably overpaying.
Both companies are popular and well-known. Incfile has been going since 2004, while LegalZoom has been around since 1999 and has a larger customer base.
LegalZoom is bigger and broader and offers more services, but in the end, you really need to think about why you need legal help and how you’ll use their services in the future before committing.
Note: If you are planning on going the sole proprietorship route, it’s probably not worth using one of these services.
Before you part with your hard-earned cash, get a feel for how many businesses in your niche they’ve helped. For example, what’s their reputation with small businesses and/or entrepreneurs?
If you’re just starting out, then Incfile works out to be the cheaper and faster option. There’s even a learning center on their website, with tips on a variety of topics such as business license requirements, annual report filing times, and research tools. Their pricing is more transparent and easier to find on their website, whereas LegalZoom’s pricing is less clear.
With LegalZoom, you need to enter information first, and then their site takes you through a ton of upsells or attempts at upsells before they give you a real costing for their services. This can be a bit confusing — which isn’t what you want when you’re already stressed about your legal problems!
All in all, if you think you’re going to need regular help and support, and not only for your business needs, then LegalZoom may be the one for you. Whereas, if you’re starting a new company, then Incfile is cheaper and faster. Either way, both are way more affordable than an attorney’s hourly rates.
Have you used either LegalZoom or Incfile before? If so we’d love to hear about your opinions and experiences in the comments box below. Let’s kickstart the conversation — speak soon!
Bottom Line: I’ve used BOTH of these registered agent services over the years for forming an LLC and handling the legal forms and paperwork, but ALL of my businesses now use Incfile. Incfile is faster, cheaper, and has a much better user dashboard. My pick – Sign up for Incfile here.
Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist who specializes in all things digital marketing, B2B, and lifestyle. In addition to the Digital Merchant, you can also find her published on E-commerce Platforms, E-Commerce Champ, and Crazy Egg. Check out her website Blog with Rosie for more information.