Are you looking to form a limited liability company, corporation, or nonprofit but are stuck trying to settle on the best formation service to use?
Choosing the right service can be difficult. That’s why we’ve evaluated over a dozen of the top services, looking at metrics in a number of categories, such as pricing and turnaround time, in order to give you a clear idea of each services’ strengths and weaknesses.
Here are our results:
Incorporate.com vs LegalZoom: Verdict
On the whole, neither Incorporate.com nor LegalZoom scored very well. Both companies are extremely expensive, and neither has particularly impressive turnaround times.
Price and turnaround time are the two most important factors when it comes to choosing an online formation provider – a middling to poor performance in both categories simply isn’t a recipe for success.
In the end, though, LegalZoom was our winner because they performed decisively better than Incorporate.com on ease of use and help and support, while also sporting a much more impressive review history.
LegalZoom has an excellent website, a tremendous breadth of knowledge and resources at their disposal, and a solid track record backed up by thousands of customer reviews. They also offer legal help and dozens of legal document templates, which some startup owners may find quite useful.
While these factors, in our opinion, don’t make up for LegalZoom’s high prices and very slow turnaround times, they do place the company comfortably ahead of Incorporate.com.
|Ease of Use||3/5||5/5|
|Help & Support||1/5||5/5|
If you’re interested in learning about some of our more highly-rated companies, we recommend checking out our reviews of ZenBusiness, Northwest Registered Agents, and Active Filings. All three of these companies scored much better overall than both LegalZoom and Incorporate.com.
Still have questions about whether forming an LLC is the right move for you? Confused about the process as a whole? Before reading our service provider reviews, you may want to check out our How to Start an LLC article.
If you want to learn more about how we reached our conclusion in this particular service provider match-up, then read on!
Incorporate.com vs LegalZoom: Pricing
Price is usually one of the most important factors for new business owners choosing a formation service.
But it’s sometimes tricky to perform apples-to-apples comparisons of multiple services. Not all formation packages are the same.
Some are bare-bones, while others are expansive. Some are full of useful services, while others are full of third-party upsells and totally unnecessary add-ons.
For our Incorporate.com vs LegalZoom comparison, we’ve tried to simplify and standardize things. Below, you’ll see a table that shows the prices of a basic formation, a full formation, and a registered agent service (if purchased individually) with each company.
These listed prices do not include state fees, which may range considerably, but are usually in the $50 to $150 range.
|Registered Agent||$235 per year||$299 per year|
What’s the difference between a basic and a full formation? Here’s how we define each:
Basic Formation: Covers the essential business entity creation. Includes – at minimum – filing of Articles of Organization and the drafting of an Operating Agreement for an LLC or corporate bylaws for a corporation.
Full Formation: Additionally includes – at minimum – a registered agent service, which most LLC owners will find essential.
Incorporate.com’s most basic formation package is $99, and the only core services it includes are the filing of your Articles of Organization and the conducting of a business name search.
Drafting an Operating Agreement will run you another $99 (that’s considerably above-average when compared to the competition), which brings the price of a basic formation up to $198. Full formations are a whopping $433.
Both those price points are quite expensive, and, unfortunately, most of Incorporate.com’s other services follow suit.
Indeed, from $150 DBA filing to $80 EIN filing, Incorporate.com is expensive across the board.
LegalZoom’s services are also quite expensive. A basic formation (done by buying their “Economy Package” and then adding on an Operating Agreement) will run you $178, and a full formation is a staggering $477.
That latter cost is so high in large part because of LegalZoom’s registered agent service. At $299 per year, it’s the most expensive registered agent service we’ve seen.
This service is done in-house, and it does come with some bonus features, like a compliance calendar and unlimited cloud storage for business and legal documents. But if you’re looking for a bare-bones registered agent service, you’re certain to find better bargains elsewhere.
With regards to add-on services, LegalZoom doesn’t fare much better. Like Incorporate.com, they charge $99 for Operating Agreement drafting. Other commonly-used services, like Foreign Qualification filing and Annual Report filing, are also pricey ($229 fixed and $150 per year, respectively).
Pricing Winner: LegalZoom
Let’s get things straight – being the “winner” of this head-to-head matchup should not be a claim to fame. Incorporate.com and LegalZoom are two of the most expensive formation services we’ve reviewed.
Both services’ basic and full formations are priced far above the average. Both services’ registered agent fees are also very high – and those are costs that add up year after year, especially if your LLC or corporation operates in multiple states.
We consider LegalZoom to have the edge over Incorporate.com on pricing, however. Although the prices for services on both sites are high, LegalZoom has a better reputation, a much larger support staff, more resources, and a greater depth of expertise.
These factors work to (at least partially) justify their higher costs. Incorporate.com’s very high costs, on the other hand, are just about impossible to justify.
Incorporate.com vs LegalZoom: Turnaround time
One of the main benefits of using an online formation service is that it can save new business owners time and effort. If your formation ends up taking just as long as if you had done it yourself, then why use a service at all?
In general, we like to see companies file documents within one business day of receiving them. And, we don’t like seeing companies charging extra for “internal prioritization” (which usually amounts to an extra fee just to receive a more reasonable turnaround time).
Here are some quick stats on LegalZoom and Incorporate.com’s turnaround times.
|Paid internal rush option||No*||Yes|
|Overall turnaround time||Average||Slow|
Incorporate.com does offer an express shipping option, for $20, but nothing in their offer states anything about your application being internally prioritized
Incorporate.com’s turnaround times are middling. When you reach the “checkout” page with a formation bundle in your cart, you’ll get an estimated total processing time, based on your filing type and state. We found these times to be fairly average for the industry.
However, nowhere on Incorporate.com’s website does the company make specific mention of the time it takes them to process formations and send them along to the state.
We prefer to see concrete time commitments (e.g. “same-day filing”, “filing within one to two business days”) as opposed to general turnaround time estimates.
For being such a large company, with so many resources at their disposal, LegalZoom has some disappointingly slow turnaround times.
Purchasers of LegalZoom’s Economy formation package can expect full processing times of up to 30 business days. Now, this timeline almost certainly includes state governments’ processing times as well – but still, this is definitely on the slow side.
And, as is the case with Incorporate.com, LegalZoom is not good about providing specifics on how long they take to process your application and send it along to the state.
LegalZoom’s “expedited” option (its “Express Gold” package) only reduces your expected wait-time to 10-15 business days. Compared to our top-rated business formation services, these times are unacceptable.
Turnaround time winner: Incorporate.com
Though their turnaround times aren’t particularly impressive, Incorporate.com still beats LegalZoom in this category. With most formations, and in most states, you can expect to wait two to three weeks for your formation to go through using Incorporate.com.
Using LegalZoom’s basic package, on the other hand, your formation could take well over a month – to reach a (middling) turnaround time of two to three weeks, you’ll need to pay for expensive package upgrades or expedited filing.
Incorporate.com vs LegalZoom: Customer satisfaction
Companies can make impressive claims about their services, but do they actually back them up?
Customer reviews help us determine whether or not formation companies make good on their promises – more generally, they can help us determine whether a service is worth using at all.
We can’t form LLCs through every service we review, so we look to previous customers, who have actually been through the full process with a given company, to get a fuller idea of user experience.
Of course, we like to see high average ratings. But we also like to see large volumes of ratings, ratings on reputable sites, and descriptive reviews that highlight the specific aspects of a service that customers were most happy with.
Below, you’ll find some quick customer satisfaction stats for both Incorporate.com and LegalZoom. Our “stand-out mentions” category highlights some of the phrases or themes we saw repeated in many reviews.
|Stand-out mentions||N/A||“Very knowledgeable”|
“Made things easy”
“Polite and professional”
Given that Incorporate.com (or, at least, its parent company) has been around for over a century and claims to have helped tens of thousands of people start their businesses, we were very surprised to find almost no reviews of the company at all.
Scanning popular review websites like Google Reviews, Trustpilot, Yelp, and the BBB, we found zero pages dedicated to Incorporate.com.
We found a couple of pages dedicated to CSC (the Corporation Services Company), which runs Incorporate.com. But even these pages had only a handful of reviews each – and those reviews were generally negative.
So, all in all, we don’t have much to go off review-wise for Incorporate.com. What little we do have does not reflect well on the company’s services and support.
Unlike Incorporate.com, LegalZoom has tons of reviews available. Their Better Business Bureau page has over 1,800 reviews, their Trustpilot page has over 600 reviews, and other review sites have volumes in the dozens or hundreds.
In general, LegalZoom’s review averages are decent – usually somewhere around 4.0 / 5. These are far from the best averages we’ve seen, but they’re respectable.
Within positive reviews, we saw consistent praise for LegalZoom staff’s professionalism, expertise, and general helpfulness. Lots of reviews seemed to be written by first-time business owners, who were impressed with how easy LegalZoom made their formation process.
Customer satisfaction winner: LegalZoom
LegalZoom is the clear winner on customer satisfaction. They have far more reviews to look at, and their reviews are, on average, much more positive than those left for Incorporate.com.
While LegalZoom doesn’t sport the highest review averages, it seems like their customers are generally satisfied with the company’s service.
Incorporate.com vs LegalZoom: Ease of use
As with just about any other online product or service purchase, when ordering an online formation, you want the process to be simple and easy to follow.
Figuring out everything you have to do to start your small business is hard enough as is. A confusing or poorly-built website adds another, unnecessary, layer of difficulty.
When reviewing a company’s website, we ask ourselves a few key questions:
- Is the order process smooth and intuitive?
- Is there plenty of information available on the various services provided, so customers understand both what they need and what they’re buying?
- Are prices clearly displayed, or is a lot of digging needed to find them?
Here’s how Incorporate.com and LegalZoom did on these important metrics:
|Clarity of instructions and prices||Poor||Great|
We were not particularly wowed by Incorporate.com’s website.
Overall, Incorporate.com’s ordering process for formation packages was solid.
However, ordering an add-on service, such as annual report filing or Certificate of Good Standing filing, was much trickier. Prices were not clearly listed, and almost every add-on service page lacked an order click-through. Instead, potential customers are simply given a number to call.
We really dislike having to call a company to order a service. Not only is it an extra hassle, but it also gives sales reps an opportunity to upsell you on products you don’t need.
Incorporate.com’s descriptions of services were pretty boiler-plate. Their business advice “articles” (e.g. “What is an S-corporation?”) were decent, but they usually ended with call-to-actions that said nothing about the price customers could expect to pay for a given service.
LegalZoom’s website earned high marks all around.
Although the company provides a huge range of services, extending well beyond the realm of business formations, their website was well-organized and easily navigable – new business owners should be able to quickly and easily find the services they need.
Though they did not have full article-style write-ups on every formation-related service they provide, they usually had very well-written FAQs (you can find an example here, on their Annual Reports service page).
Prices were also clearly listed for formation packages and just about every add-on service. The ordering process is quick and intuitive – everything you should expect from an online formation provider.
Ease of use winner: LegalZoom
LegalZoom has clearly put a lot more thought and effort into their website than Incorporate.com has.
Easily navigable, chock full of helpful information, and super transparent with pricing, LegalZoom’s website scores well on all our key metrics. When it comes to overall ease of use, LegalZoom comes out decisively ahead.
Incorporate.com vs LegalZoom: Help & Support
For many, forming an LLC online is a quick, easy, and completely automated process. However, there are several reasons that you should still want to use a company with a good help and support track record.
Some formations are more complex than others, and the necessity or usefulness of certain add-on services (e.g. S-corp filing, annual report filing, EIN filing with the IRS, opening a business bank account) can be hard to figure out, even if you have access to well-written articles.
Being able to quickly access customer support and talk to a real human – an expert who can answer your questions with confidence – can be incredibly clarifying, and it can save you quite a bit of time in the long run.
You also have every right to expect that any issues with your formation, add-on services, and billing are dealt with promptly and professionally.
Here are some of the key help and support services that Incorporate.com and LegalZoom did, or didn’t, provide.
|Live Chat Support||No||No|
|Extended business hours||No||Yes|
|Website help section||No||Yes|
Incorporate.com scored very poorly on most of our help and support metrics. The company does not list an easily accessible email address, or even help and support hours, on their website. All they provide is a phone number to call and an online form to fill out if you have questions.
Their website also lacks any sort of concise help section. And, although we have very few reviews to go off of, several of those that we do have mention poor service and very long wait-times to talk to actual people.
Although LegalZoom does not have a quickly accessible email address, (some digging will show you that they can be reached for certain questions at [email protected]), they do have a phone line that sports extended and weekend hours. They also have a full ‘Customer Care’ page dedicated to FAQs.
While we prefer to see a suite of support options, including email and online chat, LegalZoom appears to have a solid help and support track record, according to their many thousands of online reviews.
Their extended support hours are also a huge plus – many formation companies, especially smaller ones, only offer support during the week, which can be very inconvenient for busy new LLC or C-corp owners.
Help and support winner: LegalZoom
Though not wildly impressive, LegalZoom’s help and support were superior to Incorporate.com’s. LegalZoom had a dedicated help page, clearly stated support hours, and more transparent contact methods. Their reviews also tended to back up their help and support claims.
Do We Recommend Incorporate.com or LegalZoom?
No, we do not.
LegalZoom has a long and solid track record, but their service prices are simply too high, and their turnaround times are unacceptably slow.
Incorporate.com is also extremely expensive. They lack a substantial review record, in spite of being in business for decades, and large chunks of their website are unclear or not easy to use.
If you’re incorporating or forming a new limited liability company, we recommend staying far away from this company’s services.