Do I Need an Attorney to Incorporate?

One of the most important first steps in starting a business is to decide which business structure to use. One structure type that you may consider is forming a corporation. If you’ve decided that forming a corporation is the right fit for your business, do you need to hire an attorney, or can you handle the filings yourself? 

The short answer is yes, it is technically possible to incorporate without using a business attorney. That being said, there are significant advantages to partnering with an attorney when incorporating your business. 

How to Incorporate

There are two options if you are going to incorporate without the use of an attorney. You can either fill out all documents and file them yourself or you can work with an online filing service. 

Should you choose to incorporate without an attorney, there is a specific series of steps that you must take to set up your corporation. 

  1. Select a name for your company and ensure that it is not already in use by another company
  2. Draft your articles of incorporation and file them with the state Secretary of State’s office
  3. Select your corporation’s board of directors 
  4. Designate a registered agent within the state that you’re incorporated who will receive legal process and notice on behalf of your corporation 
  5. Create bylaws
  6. Issue stock in your corporation and adopt equity-related agreements associated with that stock 
  7. File a business license if required by your city or state
  8. Obtain an EIN (employer identification number) from the IRS to hire employees and pay taxes for your corporation

Should you decide that you DO want to work with an attorney when forming your corporation, these are all steps that your attorney will help walk you through. It can be overwhelming and confusing to attempt to complete these steps without prior familiarity with business formation. Working with an expert such as an attorney not only makes things easier on you but also ensures that nothing is missed or overlooked. 

Cost of Incorporating

If you choose to incorporate your business without the support of a business attorney, the only fees that you’re responsible for are state fees. These likely total between $100-250, depending on the state in which you incorporate. 

Using an attorney to help you through the process obviously involves additional expenses, but likely results in the peace of mind of having things done correctly the first time. 

If you have little to no prior knowledge regarding the process of corporation formation, there’s a chance that something could be completed incorrectly, or skipped completely. Missing a critical step in the process could potentially be catastrophic to the timeline and legality of your business. The last thing you want for your new business is to be in hot water with the law right off the bat. 

If you’re looking to establish a new corporation but don’t know where to start, a conversation with the experts at @VirtualCounsel may be perfect for you! With years of trusted experience, we can evaluate your business proposal and help you make decisions best suited for your success. 

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