In this review, we will cut to the chase and go over what you really need to know about LegalZoom’s LLC formation and incorporation services:
- True pricing of LegalZoom’s LLC formation services
- Expected formation turnaround time
- LegalZoom’s reliability, customer reviews, support offerings, and much more
Plus, we’ll provide clear explanations of the many other relevant, formation-related services that LegalZoom offers.
Below is a quick summary of our findings. Further down, you’ll find our more comprehensive review, which details our conclusions and also explains everything you need to know about LegalZoom.
Is LegalZoom The Right Choice For You?
Help & Support:
Ease of Use:
Scoring Weights: Pricing (2x), Turnaround Time (2x) and Customer Satisfaction (1.5x) have been given additional weights in our scoring.
LegalZoom is one of the biggest names in the LLC formation and incorporation business. They are known for not only their formation services but also for the wide array of online legal services and legal form templates they offer. LegalZoom offers expertise, a nearly twenty-year track record of success, and excellent customer service availability.
The company is not without its drawbacks. LegalZoom’s prices are significantly more expensive than their competitors – more than twice as expensive. Their turnaround times for formations are a lot slower as well.
Visit LegalZoom.com, or continue reading to find out more about the company’s pros and cons.
Legalzoom Quick Overview
Founded in 2001, LegalZoom was one of the first companies in the online legal technology space. The company is headquartered in Glendale, California, and also has offices in the UK.
With over 1,000 employees, LegalZoom is also one of the largest players in the LLC formation industry. They have helped tens of thousands of owners start their small businesses. The company’s scope goes far beyond formations, though. LegalZoom offers a ton of legal and filing-related services.
The company – which is not a law firm – nevertheless assists with everything from living wills to property deed transfers to estate planning to personal name changes.
In this review, we’ll focus on LegalZoom’s business-related services, such as:
- LLC formations
- Operating agreement drafting
- Registered agent services
- Business license searches
- …and several others
LegalZoom offers three formation packages. The Economy, the Standard, and the Express Gold all offer formations, with higher-tier packages offering additional services.
|Basic LLC Filing
|Cost Varies by state
|Cost Varies by state
One important thing to note is that none of LegalZoom’s packages include registered agent services or an operating agreement.
With most pricing tables we create, you’ll see that as the package price increases, so do the services that are included. With LegalZoom, however, the more expensive packages include almost no additional essential services. We explain what they actually provide below.
While the package prices are pretty standard, LegalZoom requires you to buy essential services separately – at extremely high prices.
LegalZoom’s Economy Plan: $79 + state fees
LegalZoom’s Economy plan is the plan we’d recommend to those looking for a basic formation service at a reasonable price.
There aren’t many services included with the Economy plan. Unlike many competitors’ basic plans, an Operating Agreement is not even included.
However, by opting for LegalZoom’s Economy plan, you are getting the customer support and expertise of a company with lots of resources that’s been in the business for almost twenty years.
We would not recommend LegalZoom’s Economy Plan to anyone who is in a rush to start their LLC.
The stated turnaround time under this plan is 30 business days. That’s quite a bit slower than most of LegalZoom’s competitors, such as ZenBusiness
LegalZoom’s Economy plan includes:
Articles of Organization: Articles of Organization are the documents that form an LLC. They include basic information on your business, like its name, member(s), address, and industry.
Financial Account Authorization Letter: This document will apply to any business owner who is looking to start a business bank account. It provides authorization to an owner/member to open an account in the business’s name.
Lifetime Customer Support: This is a big plus since LegalZoom offers seven-day-a-week customer support. Unlike some of their smaller competitors, LegalZoom has a large team dedicated to customer service.
Peace of Mind Review ™: LegalZoom may have a trade-marked name for their review, but it’s really just a standard review. They’ll go over your application and point out any possible errors before documents are sent to the state.
LLC Next Steps Guide: This handy guide offers some direction to new LLC founders. It’ll give you an idea of what sort of other actions or filings you may need to take once your LLC is established (or while documents are being processed).
Name Check and Business Filing: This is a standard service offered by just about every LLC formation provider. LegalZoom will check to make sure your LLCs name isn’t already taken. Most states’ Secretary of State offices offer a free search feature on their websites.
LegalZoom’s Standard Plan: $329 + state fees
LegalZoom’s Standard plan is a big step up in price from their economy plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t add much value – certainly not enough to justify the cost.
We don’t recommend going with this plan, which upsells some unnecessary items.
In addition to the features offered by the Economy plan, the Standard plan offers:
LegalZoom VIP Processing: Your order will be “internally prioritized,” leading to faster processing. The overall expected turnaround time, though, is still a relatively slow 15 business days.
Official Certificates, Seal, and Organizer: Included with the Standard plan are a personalized organizer, company seal, and 20 company membership certificates. While these are all nice touches – and pretty to look at – most businesses won’t find them necessary.
LegalZoom’s Express Gold Plan: $349 + state fees
LegalZoom’s Express Gold plan is, essentially, just a slightly expedited version of their Standard plan. It includes everything offered with the Standard plan, plus:
Rush Processing With Secretary of State: This rush filing brings your expected processing time down to ten business days, significantly less than the Economy plan’s 30-day turnaround time.
Express shipping: Just what it sounds like. Any relevant documents will be shipped to you express.
Since the “expedited” services offered are still relatively slow, we don’t recommend using LegalZoom’s Express Gold Plan.
LegalZoom vs Competitors Pricing
Below, you’ll find our table that compares LegalZoom’s formation prices with those of its main competitors.
Prices quoted in this table are independent of LegalZoom’s package pricings. They are standardized for comparison with competitors.
We define Basic Formation and Full Formation below the table.
Formation only: Covers the essential business entity formation. Includes – at minimum – filing formation articles with your chosen state's secretary of state office.
We recommend this level of service to experienced business owners, who do not need an operating agreement and can serve as their LLC's registered agent.
Full Formation: Additionally includes – at minimum – a custom operating agreement and one year of registered agent service, which most new owners will find essential.
LegalZoom vs. Competitors
Are you looking for a more in-depth comparison between LegalZoom and some of their competitors?
Check out these summaries, or read our in-depth comparisons in their respective articles.
LegalZoom vs. ZenBusiness
We firmly recommend ZenBusiness over LegalZoom. Compared to ZenBusiness, LegalZoom performed poorly in several categories. In particular, LegalZoom’s formation costs are just too high – the service is among the most expensive we have seen.
Despite this, LegalZoom does not offer any meaningful added value compared to ZenBusiness. ZenBusiness can provide faster and more affordable formations while also boasting much higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Check out our ZenBusiness vs. LegalZoom article for our full comparison.
LegalZoom vs. Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent performs vastly better than LegalZoom when it comes to pricing and turnaround time. Northwest Registered Agent offers LLC formations, including an Operating Agreement and a registered agent service, for less than half of what LegalZoom demands. Northwest Registered Agent also scores higher in terms of customer satisfaction.
Check out our Northwest Registered Agent vs. LegalZoom article for our full comparison.
LegalZoom vs. Nolo
Although LegalZoom and Nolo offer very similar LLC formation packages, LegalZoom tends to be vastly more expensive.
LegalZoom's real performance, which is similar to Nolo’s in most categories, does not justify these high costs. Overall, we think neither Nolo nor LegalZoom are good options and recommend using other services.
Check out our LegalZoom vs. Nolo article for our full comparison.
LegalZoom vs. Rocket Lawyer
Compared to LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer provides a faster and more flexible LLC formation service.
Rocket Lawyer’s offering is particularly suited for entrepreneurs who are also interested in other online legal services, such as online attorney consultations. These services are bundled with Rocket Lawyers membership by default.
Rocket Lawyer also scores significantly better with online customer reviews and offers much better pricing.
Check out our LegalZoom vs. Rocket Lawyer article for our full comparison.
LegalZoom vs. Incfile
Both Incfile and LegalZoom have significant shortcomings in different categories, which is why we recommend neither of them. Incfile’s main weakness is their poor customer satisfaction – the service is marred by frequent complaints of bad customer service and unexpected filing delays.
LegalZoom’s exceptionally high costs are the reason why Incfile still ranks slightly higher in our list of recommendations.
Check out our LegalZoom vs. Incfile article for our full comparison.
LegalZoom vs. BizFilings
Neither LegalZoom nor BizFilings offer the best turnaround times or most affordable prices in the business. And while LegalZoom scores higher regarding ease-of-use and customer service, their high costs are the reason why we ultimately rank BizFilings above LegalZoom.
Check out our LegalZoom vs. BizFilings article for our full comparison.
LegalZoom vs. Inc Authority
We rank Inc Authority above LegalZoom on account of Inc Authority’s free basic LLC formation package. That said, both services have issues. We do not recommend either of them.
For example, Inc Authority could do a better job of informing people about their pricing and services. They also heavily upsell third-party services. On the other hand, Inc Authority performs better concerning pricing and turnaround time.
Check out our LegalZoom vs. Inc Authority article for our full comparison.
LegalZoom vs. Swyft Filings
Swyft Filings’ LLC formation service is simultaneously faster and more affordable than LegalZoom's. Forming an LLC with LegalZoom can end up costing double what you would pay when using Swyft Filings.
Still, other services can get the job done even faster than either of these companies. Swyft Filings also tends to upsell unnecessary services or outsource them to third parties.
Check out our LegalZoom vs. Swyft Filings article for our full comparison.
LegalZoom vs. Incorporate.com
LegalZoom performs significantly better than Incorporate.com in customer satisfaction, ease of use, and customer service. However, both services do poorly in the two most important categories – pricing and turnaround time. As a result, we cannot recommend either of the two.
Check out our LegalZoom vs. Incorporate.com article for our full comparison.
Which bundle is the best value for money?
LegalZoom’s Economy plan is the winner on value, though even it is not particularly impressive. The $79 price point for formation is fine, until you realize that Operating Agreement drafting isn’t included.
Adding this service on will bump the price all the way up to $178 – a lot less competitive. Adding a registered agent service tacks on another $299, for a massive grand total of $477.
If you’re not in a rush, and if you’re looking for a truly bare-bones formation (no Operating Agreement, no RA), with a trustworthy provider, LegalZoom’s Economy plan is a passable option.
The Standard and Express Gold plans, meanwhile, are much more expensive but don’t have much value added.
The “expedited” filings associated with the Standard and Express Gold plans (15 and 10 business days, respectively) are still slower than many competitor’s turnaround times, even with basic plans. The certificates, seal, and organizer are unnecessary for most businesses.
Canceling LegalZoom services
LegalZoom does not make its cancellation/refund policies easy to access.
An answer to a cancellation question on LegalZoom’s blog states that subscription-based services can be canceled through your online account dashboard.
Cancellations are not prorated. If you cancel an annual service, you’ll still pay for the full year, even if you don’t use the service for the full year.
LegalZoom’s general cancellation policy is buried under a lot of small-text legalese. It does state that you have 120 days from the beginning of service to cancel an order and still receive a refund or store credit. A separate page states that to request a refund for a service, you should contact the LegalZoom Customer Care Center at (800) 773-0888.
While LegalZoom may very well be reasonable with cancellations and refunds, their website doesn’t offer much clarity on the issue.
Below, we’ll discuss some of LegalZoom’s strongest attributes.
Solid customer support
Many of LegalZoom’s positive reviews are focused on its customer service. Reviewers seem to appreciate the availability and helpfulness of LegalZoom’s customer reps, who are available seven days a week.
They also appreciate reps’ expertise, and they like that they are quickly able to talk to a real human.
Some of LegalZoom’s competitors don’t have as strong of a customer support network. Smaller operators tend to rely on automated services, like chatbots. Here, LegalZoom benefits from its larger size.
Long track-record of reliability
One other big thing that LegalZoom has going for it is its long track record. Founded in 2001, the company boasts a full two decades of experience.
As a pioneer within the field, LegalZoom was one of the first companies to bring affordable legal services to the masses through efficient, online templates. Through the years, LegalZoom has maintained and even improved its reputation.
This means that customers should have a better idea of what they’re getting when they work with LegalZoom. Compared to some competitors, who have not been in the field for as long and still may be working on their service model, LegalZoom offers consistency.
For some, that may be worth the extra – hefty – price tag on many of LegalZoom’s services.
Large company with lots of resources
Sometimes, larger businesses are more cumbersome than smaller ones. Using a small, efficient business’ services can certainly have its benefits (many of LegalZoom’s smaller competitors offer much quicker turnaround times on formations, for instance).
However, there are some benefits to being big, too. With over 1,000 employees, LegalZoom boasts a significantly larger workforce than many of its competitors. This translates to more customer service reps and support staff, and more specialists and experts who can help you work through tricky or confusing issues.
LegalZoom’s size also allows it to offer an even greater range of services than its competitors. Some of its more specialized legal services, like IP protection, may not apply to all business owners.
But, for those who do plan on using such services, LegalZoom offers some extra convenience, allowing users to use their company alone, rather than having to use multiple companies’ services.
Plus, LegalZoom’s broad expertise and experience mean you can be more confident in their non-formation-related services. With smaller LLC formation specialists, you may be taking more of a shot in the dark.
LegalZoom’s services have some notable downsides, too. We go over some of the main ones here.
While some of its service prices are on par with the competition, many of LegalZoom’s services are noticeably more expensive.
Take its formation packages, for instance. Its most basic, Economy package is a flat $79, plus state fees. That’s fairly in line with its competitors. Its Standard and Express Gold packages, on the other hand, are significantly more expensive at $329 and $349, respectively.
Neither of those packages, though, includes a registered agent service or an Operating Agreement.
While those are included in most other companies’ formation packages, with LegalZoom, you have to buy them separately, for $299/yr and $99 fixed, respectively.
That means, if you bought a basic formation, plus an Operating Agreement and a year’s worth of registered agent service, you can expect to pay $477. That’s a good chunk of change for small businesses that are just starting out.
It is quite a bit more than you’d pay for a similar package with other companies. With Northwest Registered Agent, you’d only have to pay half – $225. Among the formation services we have reviewed, only Incorporate.com charges a similarly high price for a full formation.
Those looking at LegalZoom’s packages should also note that none of them include an EIN (Employer Identification Number) filing. An EIN is used by the IRS to identify a business for tax purposes. It’s sort of like a business’s social security number.
Filing for an EIN is free and can be done easily online. It’s not a big deal, then, that LegalZoom doesn’t include this filing in their service. It’s just important to still remember to do it!
EIN’s are needed by any businesses that plan on hiring employees or applying for a business bank account.
Slow turnaround times
LegalZoom’s business formation turnaround times are quite long compared to the competition. For a standard filing with their Economy package, they say that customers can expect to wait a full 30 business days for processing to complete.
The “expedited” services offered through their Standard and Express Gold packages are still pretty slow, being 15 and 10 business days respectively. Many other LLC formation companies offer to have your documents sent to the state within one business day.
Now, the states themselves can still take days or weeks to accept and return your registration. Even so, if you’re looking to have your formation done quickly, LegalZoom may not be your best option. Other companies at least give you a little more control over your timeline.
Average Customer Reviews
At first, we didn’t consider this a full-fledged con, but in conjunction with LegalZoom’s high prices and long wait times, – we can’t overlook it either.
LegalZoom’s customer reviews are not terrible, they are just very impressive.
LegalZoom’s Trustpilot rating is a 4.1/5, somewhere middle of the pack.
BBB rating: 3.79 / 5
Consumer Affairs rating: 3.8 / 5
Competitors such as ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent boast customer ratings averages over 4.6 – LegalZoom is clearly lags behind here.
Inaccessible refund and cancellation policy
Usually, we like to see refund or cancellation policies clearly stated and easily accessible.
Unfortunately, LegalZoom’s cancellation policy is tough to get to and features a long wall of legalese text. There’s a separate, dense terms of service and cancellation policy for their registered agent service too.
At other locations on their website and blog, LegalZoom says that services can be canceled via customers’ online dashboard, and/or by calling customer service. The company also displays a 100% satisfaction guarantee on its “Why Us?” page, saying that they will offer a full refund if your expectations are not met.
Several positive reviews do mention cancellations being easy, so this is a plus, if the information is indeed accurate.
LegalZoom is a large company that offers a wide array of services, from LLC formations to will and deed drafting to legal advice. Here, we’ll just focus on those services related to business’s formation and ongoing operations.
For each service, we’ll explain how and why it may apply to you, when you may want it, and what LegalZoom’s price point is.
As a general rule, LegalZoom’s prices for one-off services tend to range from average to expensive, when compared to their competitors.
$79 – $349, depending on package
For those looking to start their own business, forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) is often one of the first steps. LLCs are one of the most popular business structures. They’re fairly easy to form, they don’t have as many compliance and recordkeeping requirements as other business types (e.g. corporations), and they offer significant liability protections to their owners.
LLCs are formed at the state level, usually with a given state’s Secretary of State office. The formation process, and its complexity, varies from state to state. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of learning about and then navigating your specific state’s formation rules, you can get a company like LegalZoom to file your formation for you.
Filing through LegalZoom can be done entirely online. Given their many years in the business, you may not find it surprising that LegalZoom’s online formation system is quick and intuitive.
You’ll be asked to provide basic information on your new business, including its state of formation, its members, its address, and its name. LegalZoom also provides a free search tool, so you can make sure your intended business name isn’t already taken.
LegalZoom ensures its customers that their formations will go smoothly. They offer a “Peace of Mind Review” as a part of all their formation packages. This includes a “personal review” (we assume by an actual human, instead of an algorithm) of your formation documents.
LegalZoom’s turnaround times for formations vary based on the package you choose. Their Economy package estimates a 30-business-day turnaround time, while Standard and Express Gold have times of 15 and 10 days, respectively.
LegalZoom also offers incorporation services. Corporations are business entities, like LLCs, but they are regulated and taxed differently. Corporations, like LLCs, also offer liability protections to their owners.
When you incorporate with LegalZoom, you can be designated as a C-corp (the default designation), or you can elect to be considered an S-corp (“Small business corporation”). C-corp and S-corp classifications offer their own tax benefits and have some structural differences.
Owners should consult with an expert to receive tax advice on A) Whether they should incorporate, or form an LLC, and B) Whether they should elect for the S-corp designation for their business.
Both LLCs and corporations can elect to be treated as S-corps for tax purposes. You can learn more about how that works here.
LegalZoom doesn’t offer its incorporation services as part of a package, as it does with LLCs. Instead, it has a one-off fee for incorporation: $149 for either (plus state fees).
Otherwise, though, the process of incorporating through LegalZoom is quite similar to forming an LLC with them. You’ll be prompted to fill out relevant info on their website, they’ll do a check of all your documents, and then they’ll send them off to the relevant state authority. Corporations use Articles of Incorporation instead of Articles of Organization.
If you intend to start, or formalize, an organization that’s doing philanthropic work, you may want to form a nonprofit.
Nonprofits offer the same limited liability protection as an LLC, and they are also allowed to apply for 501(c)(3) status. This tax status allows people to make tax-deductible donations to your non-profit. It can also open up lots of opportunities to participate in programs and apply for grants.
As is the case with LLCs, nonprofits also offer you extra credibility. An officially-recognized and named organization always looks more professional than an informal one.
LegalZoom offers its nonprofit formation services as part of three different packages, as it does with LLCs. The included services (shown above) are slightly different, as are the prices. The Economy, Standard, and Express Gold packages are $99, $239, and $359, respectively.
Forming a non-profit doesn’t automatically mean you get 501(c)(3) status. That requires a separate federal application. LegalZoom also offers 501(c)(3) filing, with its service starting at $595.
DBAs / Fictitious Names
Sometimes, a business owner will want to operate their business under a name that’s different from the one they used on their Articles of Organization.
Many states have legal structures that allow owners to do this. Doing Business As (DBAs), Fictitious Names, and Trade Names are the titles used by different states, but they each mean essentially the same thing.
An owner may want to file for a DBA to protect their privacy, or because their business has changed or expanded.
Suppose you own an LLC that makes copper jewelry, called “Copper Creations LLC” But maybe your product range expands, and you start using sterling and gold too. You want to reflect the fact that you don’t solely make copper products anymore, so you file for a DBA to do business as “Metallic Creations LLC”
LegalZoom offers DBA/Fictitious name filing for a fixed $99 fee.
Registered Agent Service
A registered agent (RA) is legally required for all LLCs. An RA is simply a person, or company, correspondence during business hours. They act as a point-of-contact for “service of process” – that includes official legal notices, like court summons, that you’ll want to respond to ASAP.
You could lose your good standing with the state if you fail to appoint a properly registered agent.
Registered agents must be based in the state where your company is based, and they have to be available during business hours.
Technically, you are allowed to be your own registered agent. However, there are several good reasons to hire a registered agent service instead. Using such a service frees you up from the burden of having to be available at your business’ address during all business hours throughout the year.
As registered agents’ names are publicly available, letting someone else take the role grants some extra privacy too.
So, hiring a registered agent service may be a good choice if any of these conditions are applicable to you:
- You travel frequently and are not always at a single address
- You are not a resident of the United States
- Your business operates in multiple states
- You don’t want your name and address to be publicly available
At $299, LegalZoom’s registered agent service is quite a bit pricier than some of its competitors. Most charge between $120 and $150 for this service.
However, it does come with some extra bonuses, including the company’s Compliance Calendar service ($69/yr, if purchased separately), unlimited cloud storage for business docs, and one million dollars worth of identity protection.
Most states require LLCs to file some sort of annual report. While the exact contents of such reports vary from state to state, the general idea is for states to have up-to-date information on the status of businesses operating under their jurisdiction.
Some states have a fixed date on which reports are due, while others base their due date off the anniversary of your LLC’s formation (e.g., if you formed in July, your first annual report will be due next July). A few states only require you to file a report every two years.
Usually, states charge modest (less than $100) filing fees when you file your report.
Filing an annual report can seem like a bit of a hassle, but it needs to be done. Delinquent or absent reports can cause your business to incur fees or lose its good standing with the state.
LegalZoom allows you to put together and file your annual report quickly and online. For a fee that’s commensurate with the competition – $55 – they’ll help you prepare your report and then send it off to the relevant state authorities.
Most businesses have at least a few key filing and compliance dates they need to keep track of. Larger or more complex businesses may have to keep track of many such dates and deadlines. Annual reports need to be submitted, permits need to be renewed – the list of legal forms goes on.
LegalZoom offers a “Compliance Calendar” tool to help business owners keep track of all this. They’ll set you up with an online calendar, plus they’ll send you text and/or email alerts. Using their tool, you won’t have to worry about getting temporarily shut down, or having to pay excessive fees, over a missed filing date.
The “Compliance Calendar” is an annually-recurring service, with a cost of $69/yr.
Operating Agreements are one of the most basic, yet important, documents that LLCs need to have.
Operating Agreements act as a rough outline of how your business is to be run. It usually includes information such as:
- How the LLC will be managed
- How ownership is to be divided among members
- How profits are to be paid out
- What happens if a member wants to exit the LLC, or if a member passes away
- …and many other important questions
Only a handful of states (California, Delaware, Maine, Missouri, and New York) legally require you to have an Operating Agreement. And even in these states, you don’t have to file your agreement with a state agency or pay any filing fees. You just have to keep your Operating Agreement on hand.
However, having an Operating Agreement helps bolster the liability protections of your LLC, and it also serves as a go-to guideline in the event that something unexpected happens. We recommend that all businesses have at least a basic operating agreement.
Unfortunately, LegalZoom does not offer an Operating Agreement drafting as part of its LLC formation packages, as many of its competitors do. Instead, you’ll have to pay for this service separately.
LegalZoom’s fixed price for an Operating Agreement is $99. As with other one-off services, you can file yours quickly and conveniently online.
$129 Standard, $239 Rush
Corporate Amendments are simply changes to your business’ Articles of Organization. If you change your business’s name, or move addresses, or make an alteration to any piece of information that’s officially on your Articles of Organization, you’ll have to file for a corporate amendment.
Corporate amendments are usually very straightforward, and filing for them online, through LegalZoom’s website is a quick and easy process.
LegalZoom offers two tiers of pricing for its amendment services. It offers standard amendment filing for $129, or rush filing for $239. LegalZoom’s website states that rush filing is “expedited”, although an exact turnaround time is not given. They also state that, with rush filing, you’ll get your amended documentation within 2-3 days of LegalZoom receiving it from the state.
A Dissolution is just what it sounds like – an official dissolving of an LLC or other business. If you’re moving on to a new entrepreneurial pursuit or just closing shop on your current one, you may want to file for a dissolution.
Once your business is dissolved in the eyes of the relevant state and federal authorities, you won’t have to worry about keeping up with compliance, annual reports, or taxes (unless you owe any back taxes, of course).
LegalZoom offers a quick and easy online dissolution service for a flat $129 fee. After filling out the necessary info on your business, they’ll send documents over to your Secretary of State office and inform you when the dissolution is complete.
A “Foreign Qualification” may sound like it’s related to doing business internationally. But in this case, “foreign” simply means “out of state.”
If you’d like to do business in a state that is not the one you’ve formed in, you’ll have to attain what is called a “Certificate of Authority.” And to gain that certificate, you’ll need to file a Foreign Qualification.
Every state requires some form of a Certificate of Authority, and you’ll have to apply for one in each state you intend to do business in.
LegalZoom offers Foreign Qualification filing as a one-off service with a one-time fee of $229. Everything can be done quickly, and online. You’re also free to file multiple Foreign Qualifications simultaneously, if you’re expanding into multiple states at once.
Contracts and Agreements
Contract and agreement templates were LegalZoom’s original bread and butter. They continue to offer a whole host of business-relevant document templates, plus helpful explanations on when people/businesses should be using them and why.
Documents – which range from Employee NDAs to Bills of Sale to Consulting Services Agreement – are offered a la carte. You can pick and choose which you want and pay for them individually. Documents can be drafted and finalized right on LegalZoom’s website.
Most business owners will probably find at least a few templates that are relevant to them. Prices charged by LegalZoom vary by document.
Depending on your business’s industry, structure, and size, you may need anywhere from zero to many permits to operate legally. Permits and licenses can be required at the local, state, and federal levels.
Being properly permitted is vital if you want to keep your business up and running. Operating without the proper licenses could mean excessive fees, temporary shutdowns, or even the dissolution of your business. But digging through legalese, at three levels of government, can be both frustrating and time-consuming.
LegalZoom offers a “Business License Search” service to help. After you enter some info on your business, they’ll perform an extensive search, finding all the permits and licenses that are relevant to you.
It should be noted that, like its competitors, who offer a similar service, LegalZoom does not fill out these permits for you. The service simply finds and compiles them, and then offers instructions and advice on how to fill them out. For many business owners, though, this can still be a huge time-saver.
LegalZoom’s Business License Search is offered at a $100 fixed fee.
Intellectual Property Services – Trademarks, Patents, Copyrights
LegalZoom also offers a suite of intellectual property-related services. Those services include trademark filing, trademark searches, provisional patent filing, and copyright filing.
Trademarks are used to protect and officialize companies’ logos, symbols, slogans, names, and other similar commercial material. Trademark registration costs vary at LegalZoom, but between LegalZoom fees and federal fees, you can expect to pay somewhere between a few hundred to several hundred dollars.
LegalZoom also offers a Trademark Search service. With this extensive search, they’ll comb through relevant records to make sure a trademark you’re interested in hasn’t already been registered. This can help prevent you from wasting both time and money on a registration that’s destined to be rejected. LegalZoom offers this service for $199.
Copyrights are broader in scope than trademarks. They apply to “works of authorship”, which include books, videos, and other pieces of art. If you have a work of authorship that you need to protect for the sake of your business, you can file for a copyright with LegalZoom. LegalZoom charges $114 for a standard copyright. Note that this price does not include relevant federal fees.
Finally, LegalZoom also offers a provisional patent registration service. Patents are used by individuals or businesses to protect the intellectual property of inventions or processes.
A provisional patent is sort of like a pre-patent. In the words of the US Patent Office, “A provisional patent application allows you to file without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art) statement.”
Provisional patents last twelve months – if not followed up with a regular patent within that timeframe, they expire. Inventions or products covered under a provisional patent are allowed to display the phrase “patent pending.”
If you have a piece of IP that you think falls under the purview of a patent, you can file for a provisional patent with LegalZoom. That way, you can still protect your IP without fully committing to a patent. The cost of filing a provisional patent with LegalZoom is $199, plus applicable federal fees.
Do we recommend LegalZoom?
No, we do not.
LegalZoom’s pricing leaves a lot to be desired – too much, in fact. Given that competitors, such as ZenBusiness, provide a full formation package (including an operating agreement and registered agent service for a year) for only $199, LegalZoom’s price tag of $477 is simply too high.
LegalZoom’s filing turnaround times are also much slower than most of the competition. A 30-business day processing time (the stated processing time for their Economy package) defeats the entire purpose of using an online LLC formation service.
For those who are willing to pay a lot extra in order to deal with a trustworthy company and to gain access to a solid customer support staff, LegalZoom may be a good fit.
LegalZoom’s large size and broad expertise mean they may also be a good choice for those looking to add on some supplementary services. LegalZoom does license searches, IP protection filing, compliance filing, and a whole host of other business-related legal and filing work.
Those looking for a quick and LLC filing at competitive prices, though, should probably look elsewhere.
What does LegalZoom do?
LegalZoom provides business formation services, compliance services, filing services, and drafts legal documents online.
How much does it cost to form an LLC with LegalZoom?
LegalZoom’s formation packages range from $79 to $349, not including state fees. Potential customers should note that none of LegalZoom’s formation packages include a registered agent service or Operating Agreement drafting, both of which are fairly standard with other companies’ packages.
Is LegalZoom legit?
Yes, LegalZoom has been in business since 2001. They have decent review averages across several platforms and are BBB accredited.
Is LegalZoom good for LLC formation?
LegalZoom is more expensive than most of its competitors, and its LLC formation packages are not as comprehensive. But the company boasts a solid track record and a highly supportive customer service staff. If you’re willing to pay a lot extra for expertise and support, LegalZoom may be a good choice for you.
Who should purchase LegalZoom’s Express Gold package?
Given the high cost and very little value added, we don’t recommend purchasing the Express Gold package. If you are dead set on using LegalZoom and need a quicker turnaround time, the Express Gold package may fit your needs.
Who is LegalZoom best for?
LegalZoom is a decent choice for those who are willing to pay extra to deal with a reputable company with solid customer support. It is not a good choice for the budget-conscious, or those who need their LLC or business formed quickly.
What are the benefits of using LegalZoom?
LegalZoom customers benefit from dealing with a large company that has lots of resources and expertise. Many LegalZoom reviews praise the company’s readily available and very helpful customer service staff.
How does LegalZoom compare to other formation services?
LegalZoom is much more expensive than most other formation services, and their turnaround times are a lot slower. They do offer great customer support and have a solid track record.
How is LegalZoom rated?
LegalZoom has fair ratings across several review sites. Their TrustPilot Average is 4.1 out of 5, and their BBB rating is 3.8 out of 5.
What states does LegalZoom serve?
LegalZoom serves all 50 states and also offers some services in the UK.
How do I cancel LegalZoom?
Cancellation policies differ based on what you’re canceling. Some services can be canceled straight from your account dashboard. For other cancellations, you may have to call customer support.
Does LegalZoom have a refund policy?
LegalZoom does appear to offer refunds for some of its services. A service-by-service refund policy is not clearly laid out. You may have to contact customer support to see if you can get a refund for your specific situation.
Where is LegalZoom located?
LegalZoom is headquartered in Glendale, CA. They have a few other offices across the U.S., plus offices in the UK too.
Who owns LegalZoom?
LegalZoom is an independent company. They are not owned by a larger conglomerate.