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LegalZoom can help you form your LLC for free, but unlike many other providers, it offers a lot more than that. You can, for example, customize your package and add on exactly the additional legal and accounting services you need to optimize your spend. That said, you may be waiting a long time for a turnaround – unless you pay a hefty expedited processing fee.
One-time fees, annual subscription-based, or both?
One-time formation fee and add-on subscriptions
Phone, live chat, and contact form
Ultra-Customizable Packages – But Costs Can Add Up
Filing with LegalZoom offers a whole host of benefits, including access to various helpful legal and accounting add-ons and subscriptions. Think professional legal advice from an attorney, legal document drafting and reviews, and tax return filing. LegalZoom’s company formation packages cover a wide scope, from LLC to DBA, corporation, and non-profit formation.
The best part of filing with LegalZoom is the customizability of each package, though you can make things easy and select a tiered option. LegalZoom’s sign-up process allows you to fine-tune your included services and add-ons to optimize your spend. So, you’re unlikely to waste money on “free” add-ons you won’t ever use just because you can’t remove them from your chosen package.
You can even opt for the completely free LegalZoom LLC formation package and pay only the state fees. That said, if you need a lot done besides your company formation (e.g., tax returns, compliance, and registered agent services), the costs can quickly add up.
Whether you sign up online or via telephone, you’ll hear a lot about these add-ons. So, you might want to apply when you’re clear-headed to avoid agreeing to any expensive extras you won’t need later. LegalZoom’s turnaround times are also unusually slow – unless you select a pricey package or expedited processing.
Read our full review below to find out if LegalZoom is the online company formation service for you.
LegalZoom Packs In Plenty of Features
If you’re unsure about whether to register as an LLC, DBA, corporation, or nonprofit, LegalZoom can help you decide. Simply answer its 1-minute online questionnaire, titled Find out what business is best for you, to narrow down your choice.
Once you’ve decided, you can settle on your formation package. LegalZoom offers multiple tiers for each company type, including its free LLC package, which includes only the basics. Whether you go for that or a premium package, plenty of extras are included, starting with legal paperwork and supplementary guides.
When you pay LegalZoom to register your business entity, standard turnaround times can be up to two weeks or more, depending on the company type and the state in which you file. However, LegalZoom does offer expedited processing – for a fee. If you opt-in for expedited processing, expect a shorter turnaround time of around 1-5 days, depending on your chosen package.
However, do note that turnaround time also depends on the cooperation of your chosen US state and the IRS. If either organization requires more documentation – or other issues arise – you could be looking at delays. Expedited shipping is also available on select tangible assets included in LegalZoom packages, such as founder’s kits and company seals.
Choosing a name for your business is not as straightforward as is sometimes assumed, making LegalZoom’s name-check service a useful addition. LegalZoom will check the registries to see if your preferred company names are available. To make things easier, you can add secondary choices when prompted during the application process.
EIN Registration & Retrieval
With paid LegalZoom LLC formation packages, EIN registration and retrieval is included for free. Of course, you are paying extra for these plans. So if you don’t need this service, consider a free LLC formation plan instead. If you do need an EIN, you can also opt for the free package and apply for EIN registration separately.
Digital Welcome Pack and Founder’s Kit
When filing to form an LLC or another type of company or organization with LegalZoom, plentiful support is given. In the case of all of its company formation packages (including the free option), you get a digital welcome pack that guides you through the steps you need to take to set up a legal business entity.
A founder’s kit is another bonus for those who choose to add it, or who opt for select premium paid packages in which it’s already included. This binder includes all of your important documents with partitioned sections and guidance on how to run your company compliantly.
Specialist Support from Attorneys and Tax Professionals
All paid LegalZoom business formation packages come with some level of professional support from specialists. Do note that the included assistance varies per package, though. In the case of LegalZoom’s Premium LLC formation package, you can take advantage of free attorney consultations for up to 90 days and free 10-day Total Compliance and Legal Protect Plan trials, for example.
In contrast, the Express Gold non-profit formation and Premium DBA filing packages only include a 14-day free trial of this LegalZoom legal advisory plan.
For a small monthly fee, it entitles you to 30-minute attorney consults, as well as legal document downloads and reviews. That is, if you decide to continue beyond the free trial period. LegalZoom also offers professional advice on tax issues, handling your tax returns, and filing for all its packages – all for under $50 a month, paid 6 months to a year in advance.
Optional Registered Agent Service
A Registered Agent acts on behalf of you and your company, fielding, forwarding, and protecting important legal company documentation – lawsuits and tax-related communications from the state, for example. LegalZoom offers this service – though it isn’t included in your base company formation package. LegalZoom will charge you an annual fee if you opt for this service.
Non-US citizens can also take advantage of the US address included with the Registered Agent service to found their company. LegalZoom helps non-US citizens to form a company, but some states do require a physical US business address.
Ease of use
Easy to Navigate, but There Are So Many Options and Add-Ons
More is great, but too many options can be confusing. Since LegalZoom offers so many services (including shipping custom company seals), it can be confusing to navigate its crowded site. That said, once you know what you want, it’s very easy to sign up and pay.
The application time for LLC formation with LegalZoom was quick when we tested it, averaging around 10 minutes. Of course, the time taken will vary slightly based on your company type, selected add-ons, and the required information. The fact that you can review your services at any time, add on more services during sign-up, or make amendments just before checking out, also streamlines the process.
LegalZoom’s application process is 100% digital and online, meaning you can do it on any mobile device in your spare time. Though straightforward, one of the trickier aspects of purchasing a company formation package from LegalZoom is the sheer amount of upselling you’ll have to endure.
During the webform sign-up process, I was asked multiple times if I wanted to add extra paid subscriptions and services. From tax assistance to a Registered Agent, compliance to expedited processing, and founders kits, I had to navigate it all. As you might expect, I was testing the application process for the free LLC formation service.
You need to fill in a second questionnaire after purchasing your package, specifying your secondary company name choices (if your preferred selection is taken) and other important details, such as the names and addresses of your Registered Agent and company partners, if any.
Many company formation services allow customers to set up a bank account simultaneously. However, with LegalZoom, you can earn some money back by opening select Chase or Bank of America business accounts.
In-Order Add-On Review
After you’ve fielded all of the aforementioned upsold service offers, you can review these and their pricing before you place your final LegalZoom order.
You can remove any additional paid services you’ve changed your mind about in one go. This would also be a good time to add on any you missed.
Flexible Payment Terms
LegalZoom only accepts credit cards for payment, including Discover, American Express, Visa, and MasterCard. However, when paying for your LegalZoom company or LLC formation order, you can do so in installments – up to three, to be exact. That’s handy if you want to ease your capital expenditure at this critical time.
Good Value with Many Optional Paid Features
Like most competitors, LegalZoom charges a one-time fee for helping you form your LLC. But it also offers various tiers of LLC formation plans, which can help you cut costs on paid add-ons. Many of whichLegalZoom typically charges a monthly or annual subscription for – especially frequently-demanded services, such as tax return filing and general legal advice.
Its free LLC formation package – the Basic LegalZoom LLC formation plan – is excellent value. It allows you to form a company for free, only paying the mandatory state filing fees. LegalZoom’s other paid LLC formation packages and services are comparable to competitors. These packages include EIN registration and retrieval, an operating agreement, business license guide, free tax saving consultation, and more.
However, the customizability of LegalZoom’s free and paid plans increases their value. You can add many extra subscriptions – like operational documents, tax advisory, compliance services, and expedited processing. But these are all optional, meaning you can really hone in on what you need.
That said, you could spend a fortune if you opted into every additional compliance, tax, accounting, and legal add-on. It’s tempting, I must admit. So I suggest you think carefully about what you really need before finalizing your order.
LegalZoom provides current and potential customers a few different ways to contact support, including via:
Phone support is available 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. PT Monday to Friday, and 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. PT Saturday to Sunday. Note that phone support is not included with the free Basic LLC formation package.
Overall, my experience with LegalZoom support was satisfactory. The live chat support was stellar, but LegalZoom’s contact form support needs work. I don’t understand how a company can have live chat agents on-hand at the drop of a hat, yet fail to follow up on a contact form inquiry. That said, you can certainly get most of the basic information you need from the useful FAQ section and comprehensive resource articles on the LegalZoom website.
LegalZoom Live Chat Support
When I contacted LegalZoom at 3:30 p.m. PT on a Sunday, I was connected to an agent in less than a minute. Though the company doesn’t advertise itself as offering 24/7 support, it does take being responsive – even on weekends – seriously.
On contacting support on live chat again at 12:34 p.m. PT the following day, the response was just as prompt. After being asked to supply my name, email address, and phone number (optional) by a bot, I answered a few fielding questions. Then, I was connected to the relevant live agent immediately with no wait.
Though the LegalZoom agent didn’t have specific answers to my questions on hand, they took the time to learn more about my requests. They then did the research and relayed the information back to me.
This is to be expected when it comes to company formation, as the laws and regulations are different for each US state and company type. The LegalZoom agent was also very courteous and patient despite my bombarding her with questions that may have seemed trivial.
LegalZoom Contact Form Support
I also sent in a few questions via the contact form on the LegalZoom website, but I never heard back. Despite adding my email to the form, I was disappointed to find I also never received a copy of the filled-in form nor an email notification of its receipt in my inbox. An annoyance if you need to follow up on any of your requests.
I count LegalZoom among the top LLC formation services.Base plan prices are reasonable, and the customizability of its packages is impressive.
Furthermore, the tax return advice and legal advisory plans are very affordable compared to standard legal and accounting firms, although this often involves connecting you to a third party.
Whether you want to save on a new LLC formation or your business is already growing, LegalZoom can help you. From free packages to premium offerings, its range appeals to all types of companies and business owners.
To summarize the key benefits and downsides of working with LegalZoom:
Also offers corporation, non-profit, and DBA formation and filing
A comprehensive range of legal, accounting, and compliance add-ons
Helpful and responsive support team
Not actually a legal firm, all legal advice outsourced
Slow turnaround times for non-expedited packages
What other services does LegalZoom offer besides LLC formation?
LegalZoom only files LLCs for free on its Basic LLC formation plan. When filing to form a corporation, non-profit, or DBA with LegalZoom, you must also pay for the service. The Basic LLC package only includes your business’ Articles of Incorporation, a business name look-up service, and a digital welcome packet. You’ll also need to pay state fees.
Is forming an LLC with LegalZoom quick and easy?
Filling out LegalZoom’s online LLC filing form is indeed quick and easy, with the process typically taking around ten minutes. However, for all LegalZoom LLC formation packages, you need to wait 5-14 days for filing, and this doesn’t include state processing time. However, you can speed-up the process by paying for expedited 1-day processing, which also includes expedited filing with your Secretary of State (if available) – a unique feature many competitors don’t offer.
Can LegalZoom also help me file my patent or advise on copyright law?
Yes, LegalZoom is experienced with trademark, copyright, IP, and patent registrations and laws. So you can get advice on how to proceed with filing these or potential copyright and IP issues when you form your company with LegalZoom. That said, these services cost extra, though they may be included with LegalZoom’s legal advisory add-on.
A freelance author, graphic designer, and photographer, Caitlin Greyling writes about web hosting, web builder software, graphic design, tech, and electronics, and has published hundreds of product reviews and comparisons for Website Planet, The Daily Mail, and Durability Matters. Her creative and technical knowledge has been showcased at PictureCorrect, Photutorial, and others. She is currently studying for an NCTJ diploma in journalism. When Caitlin’s not working, she’s exploring nature with her son and dog or relaxing at home with her cat.