You’re starting your own business and looking for the best LLC formation service. Out of the sea of LLC formation services, you notice LegalZoom mentioned a lot. After all, it’s one of the leading and more recognizable LLC formation companies out there, mostly due to millions of customers and their advertising efforts.
But should you trust it with your business based on name recognition only?
I’ve been through the same process myself, and I’ll talk you through everything you need to know about LegalZoom — from what services they offer, what others are saying about them, and how LegalZoom compares to other companies.
What is LegalZoom?
LegalZoom was established in 1999, and since then, it’s become one of the most well-known LLC formation services with over four million customers.
The founders wanted to make legal services accessible to people. That’s why they founded an online LLC formation service, where a small business owner can also get legal assistance for their business.
LegalZoom is intended to be a one-stop for all small businesses’ legal needs.
“They spend a lot of money on marketing. They’re everywhere, essentially. What makes them successful is that they make it easy and cheap to get set up.”- Sam Mollaei, business lawyer for entrepreneurs
Why is it especially good for small business owners? Small businesses usually don’t have an in-house legal department yet they still need legal help.
When you first start a company, most likely you have a tight budget, but many legal forms need to be filled. This is where LegalZoom comes in. You can pay a fixed rate and get access to legal services and attorney consultations, which would be much more expensive with a regular law firm.
A legal services company can help with all kinds of documents, such as help realtors exchange property leases and deeds with their clients.
How Does LegalZoom LLC Formation Service Work?
Like other LLC formation services, LegalZoom offers several packages that you sign up for online. I’ll talk about each of these in a bit.
Once you’ve chosen the package that works best for you, you have to give information about your business. LegalZoom LLC service team then registers your company.
Once everything is set up, you can choose between their membership options to get legal advice.
This helps you avoid hefty legal fees, as LegalZoom attorneys can answer questions and help you with documents, such as contracts, employment processes, and more.
LegalZoom Services and Pricing
When forming an LLC, you can choose between three business formation packages that LegalZoom offers: Economy, Standard, and Express Gold. LegalZoom LLC formation prices vary for each package.
Economy $79 + State Filing Fees
Choose the Economy package if you aren’t in a rush. Orders placed in this package are shipped within 30 business days. However, in some states, economy orders can take longer because of the Secretary of State processing delays.
This is the package for you if you’re looking for the essentials, such as the business filing, and aren’t in a hurry.
Here’re the LLC services you get with this package:
LegalZoom checks if the company name you’ve chosen is available in the state you want to register in to avoid having to refile.
This is an important check, as it saves you from potential trouble in the future, such as if you find out there’s another business operating with the same name. This can lead to copyright and legal issues.
Filing of Legal Documents
LegalZoom files your articles of organizations.
This is a formal legal document that essentially establishes your limited liability company as a business entity at the state level. (1)
It’s used to establish the rights, powers, and duties between members of the LLC. It also outlines the rules under which you’ll be conducting business.
Lifetime Customer Support
You can easily reach LegalZoom customer support. They’re available seven days a week. Monday to Friday, you can reach them until 10 pm ET, and on weekends until 7 pm.
You can give them a call or use the contact us form available on the LegalZoom website.
Financial Account Authorization Letter
A financial account authorization letter says who can open a business bank account in your name. (2)
If you can’t complete the banking formalities in person or wish for LegalZoom to take care of it for you, you can give them a power of attorney to act on your behalf.
This document has to contain your personal information and the information of the third party.
Note: One thing that’s not included in LegalZoom’s Economy package is registered agent services. This is a service that many other LLC formation companies offer for free in the first year. However, with LegalZoom, you can get it for $299, which is more expensive compared to other companies.
Standard $329 + State Filing Fees
This is LegalZoom’s most popular package. It includes everything the economy package does, plus several business formation services.
It’s the best choice for you if you’re in a hurry but don’t want to pay top buck for the Gold package.
A Deluxe organizer is a box with your company’s name embossed on it.
I won’t lie. Seeing the name of my business embossed for the first time was a thrill.
It doesn’t only look pretty, but it comes in handy for organizing all the important company documents. It was a help in keeping everything neat and tidy, especially in the beginning when it feels like the amount of documents is overwhelming.
Seal and Membership Certificates
You’ll also receive twenty membership certificates and a decorative seal.
Yes, you can have these made in a printing shop, but it’s nice to get them already made.
A company seal is used to stamp or emboss important documents. It contains the company’s name, year of incorporation, and the state in which the company was filed. (3)
A seal is used to stamp the membership certificates, leases, loans, employment contracts, and other important documents.
This is the most important feature of the standard package, as it means your orders will be prioritized above those from the economy package.
Note: This doesn’t mean your application will be processed more quickly by the state, but it could mean a shorter waiting time by a week or two because you’ll go to the top of the LegalZoom queue.
Express Gold $349 + State Filing Fees
The last package in the business formation LLC services LegalZoom offers is the Gold package. It provides everything as the Standard package does, plus two additional services.
It’s only $20 more than the Standard package. My advice is if you already want to get the Standard, shell out a little more and go for the Gold package. This is what I did, and I didn’t regret it.
Its main draws are the fastest processing time and express shipping, so if you’re in a big hurry, this is the best choice for you.
A LegalZoom customer who has a Gold package will have their orders processed ahead of the Economy and Standard packages.
With this package, you can expect your order to be processed in 7 to 10 business days. So, for example, if you want to set up your LLC as soon as possible or have urgent contracts, this option is worth the extra money you pay for the Gold package.
Moreover, if your state offers expedited processing, you’ll get expedited processing with the Secretary of State. This means, instead of waiting weeks, you’ll have to wait several days.
Note: Expedited processing government fees aren’t included. They’re usually $50 to $100 more than the state’s standard filing fee.
Another feature the Gold package includes is express shipping. This means there’s 2-day shipping for the business documents. You can also opt for next-day shipping for $7.
“What I like about LegalZoom is the cost and the completeness of everything you get from them.”- Andy A., CEO of a communications agency
Many LegalZoom reviews mention that express shipping was extremely valuable in time-sensitive situations, and they loved the ability to get the documents overnight.
The documents are shipped via Express Mail, and you’ll get a tracking number.
LegalZoom Additional Services
LegalZoom offers additional services. You can find all of them on their website, but here’re some other noteworthy ones.
- Operating Agreements — $99
- Operating Agreement and a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN) — $159
- Operating Agreement, EIN (4), and a license search — $199
Business Advisory Plan
In case you’re just thinking about starting a business and thinking about your options, a legal plan can help you with:
- Starting a business
- Getting a business license
- Protecting your intellectual property, such as copyrights and trademarks
- Drafting contracts
- Tax advice from their tax partners 1-800Accountant
You can choose between two Business Advisory Plans:
- 12 months — $31.25 a month, billed once a year
- 6 months — $36.00 a month, billed twice a year
With a Business Advisory Plan, you get:
- Half an hour consultation with a local attorney on a legal matter that interests you.
- Reviews on contracts and other legal documents — up to 10 pages
- Downloads from the legal form library
Legal Advantage Plus
Legal Advantage Plus is the 12-month plan.
This legal plan has the following features:
- An unlimited number of half-hour consultations done over the phone
- One hour annual business evaluation
- Get legal documents reviewed — 10 pages are covered in the subscription
- Get advice on legal services such as finance, bankruptcy, and lawsuits
- Get advice on employment issues such as termination and compensation disputes
With this plan, you also get personal legal consultation on matters such as:
- Estate planning — last will, living trust, financial power of attorney
- Family matters — marriage, divorce, and child support
Personal Legal Service
Apart from providing advice on the LLC formation process and business legal services, you can get legal service regarding personal matters at LegalZoom.
You can choose between two plans:
- $9.99/month for 12 months
- $11.99/month for 6 months
With a personal legal plan, you get these services:
- Plan for your estate’s future — LegalZoom lawyers can guide you through last will, living trust, financial power of attorney, and other services that fit your needs best.
- Keep the estate documents safe in your LegalZoom account.
- Your immediate family can use your membership to get legal advice as well. This includes your spouse and dependent children.
- Family matters — Divorce and child support.
Note: With the yearly plan, you can get an annual legal checkup of your estate plan.
Make a Will
When checking Better Business Bureau LegalZoom reviews, I noticed that many people use LegalZoom services to create a will. This is LegalZoom’s most reviewed offer.
While I used them for their LLC service options, I found tons of positive reviews on this feature when doing LegalZoom research.
Here are the options for making a will:
- Basic last will $89 — Includes a step-by-step guide and free revisions for 30 days
- Comprehensive Last Will $99 — You get everything that basic will offers plus two weeks of attorney advice on all legal questions you have about your will. This offer renews monthly for $14.99, but you can cancel anytime.
- Estate Plan Bundle $179 — You get the last will, financial power of attorney, and Living Will. You also get one year of attorney advice and free revisions. This offer renews annually for $119.88, but you can cancel anytime.
LegalZoom Pros and Cons
- Established brand — LegalZoom is the most established out of all LLC formation services and has the biggest brand power.
- 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee, which you can use within 60 days of the day of purchase.
- Extended customer service hours.
- Possibility to do a business name availability on their website for free.
- Wide range of LLC services and legal services to make starting and maintaining a business easier.
- The business plan has a copyright registration option.
- Having to pay extra for registered agent service, operating agreement, and employer identification number.
- Packages are more expensive than the competitors.
- LLC services have mixed reviews. Some LegalZoom reviews claim there’s a lack of transparency.
- Too many sell-ups and hidden fees.
- Customer service can be a hit and miss. Sometimes I reached them on the first try, and sometimes they were unavailable for hours.
- Some LegalZoom LLC services, such as document review, are only available if you sign up for a monthly plan. If you’ll have a lot of documents for review, you might be better going to a LegalZoom alternative for legal matters, Rocket Lawyer.
How to Choose the Right LegalZoom Service?
Before you choose the LLC service that works best for you, you should think about several factors:
- LegalZoom pricing and your budget — If you’re on a tight budget, then go for the economy plan. Be aware that there’s an extra LLC service you’ll have to pay more for, such as an EIN. Also, if the money is tight, this isn’t the best LLC service out there. There are cheaper options.
- Legal help — If you need regular legal help, then you should opt for a Business Legal Plan or check out the best LegalZoom alternative for legal matters, Rocket Lawyer.
- Processing time — If you’re in a hurry and want to set up your LLC quickly, then go for the Gold package, with which you can take care of everything in 10 days.
LegalZoom Services vs. Doing It Yourself
If you know in advance that your business will need regular legal and other services, use LegalZoom.
One of the most common questions people have is LegalZoom legit. Having used them myself, I can attest that it is. LegalZoom’s cost is worth it because they can help you avoid all the legal work.
If you decide to start an LLC or a limited liability partnership by yourself, you’ll have to get familiar with legal plans, state regulations and keep on top of tons of paperwork.
Using LegalZoom, or a company you think is the best LegalZoom alternative, is the best way to ensure everything is in order and there aren’t any refiling delays and costs.
Should You Use LegalZoom?
Their packages are on the pricier side, and they don’t include all services other business formation companies do. But, they have a ton of experience, and the help is great for small businesses who need occasional help and don’t have the budget for law companies’ high retainers.
My experience with Legal Zoom has been positive. I was happy with their customer support and service packages, some of which include a free operating agreement.
A money-back satisfaction guarantee gave me peace of mind that if I’m not happy or something goes wrong, I’ll get my money back.
Paid advertisement. Westword does not sell, evaluate, or endorse products or services advertised.