Man Being Served Papers
Posted June 27, 2023

What Is LLC Service of Process?

When someone sues an LLC, the procedure of delivering the legal paperwork that initiates the lawsuit and allows it to proceed is referred to as service of process. Service of process notifies the LLC of the lawsuit, and it establishes that the court hearing the lawsuit has jurisdiction to do so.

The U.S. Constitution’s Due Process clauses in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments prevent courts from exercising jurisdiction over a defendant unless proper notice is given, which makes service of process immensely important.

Service of process commonly involves the following legal documents:

  • Summons – The summons is the official notice of the lawsuit, specifying the process the LLC should use to file a response and stating how long the LLC has to respond.
  • Complaint – The complaint explains the reason for the lawsuit, such as property damage, personal injury, or breach of contract.
  • Subpoena – A subpoena requests an LLC to produce specific documents, files, records, and testimony to be examined in the lawsuit.
  • Answer – An answer is a defendant’s formal written response to a plaintiff’s initial complaint.
  • Motion – A motion is an application that the prosecutor or defense attorney presents to the court to request that it decide on a matter in a case (such as to deny the party access to certain documents or make a ruling on the case before it goes to trial).

States require LLCs to designate a registered agent (a.k.a. agent for service of process or resident agent) to receive process on their behalf.

Who Qualifies as an Agent for Service of Process?

Below are the individuals and entities an LLC might appoint as its registered agent. A person or business must meet the state’s requirements to serve as a registered agent. Most states will not allow an LLC to designate itself as its own registered agent, and other restrictions might also apply.

Common requirements for service of process across the states include:

  • An LLC member who resides in the state
  • An employee who lives in the state
  • A friend or family member who meets the state’s age and availability requirements
  • A commercial registered agent, such as an online business filings company or other registered agent services provider, in the state where the business is located
  • An attorney, law firm, accountant, accounting firm, or tax preparation firm that offers registered agent services in the state

If an LLC operates in more than one state, it must designate a registered agent in each state.

How Does an LLC Receive Service of Process?

Service of process must be carried out properly — according to the applicable rules and statutes of the state where the LLC is located — for a civil lawsuit against an LLC to commence.

Process servers who deliver the lawsuit notices must present them to an LLC’s registered agent at the address provided on the LLC’s formation documents (i.e., Articles of Organization). Regulations for how old a process server must be and what training, certifications, and other qualifications they must have vary from state to state. Naturally, anyone who performs that job should be well-familiar with their state’s laws for service of process delivery. Sheriffs, constables, and other law enforcement professionals often serve as process servers.

In-person delivery is the primary method for service of process. However, some states allow delivery by trackable mail or even by email under certain circumstances.

If a business owner, employee, friend, or family member is appointed as the LLC’s registered agent, the legal documents will be delivered directly to them at their home or business address (whichever they listed in their Articles of Organization).

If the LLC contracts a commercial registered agent, like CorpNet.com, the process server brings the documents directly to that company’s office. Upon receiving the legal documents, the registered agent notifies their contact in the LLC and forwards the documents to them.

Often, responses to lawsuit notices must be provided within 20 calendar days of their delivery, so it’s critical for a registered agent to promptly communicate with the LLC when service of process occurs.

Why Should I Consider a Commercial Registered Agent?

  • You can count on them to be available during regular business hours Monday through Friday.
  • You can rely on them to notify you quickly of any legal documents they receive for your LLC.
  • Process servers go to the commercial registered agent’s location, not your home or place of business (which can preserve privacy and prevent an embarrassing situation).

Also, commercial registered agents are more likely to provide their services in all 50 states and offer volume discounts for LLC owners with multiple businesses. Moreover, most registered agents that cover the entire U.S. have online portals for organizing legal documents and tracking compliance tasks.

What Happens If Documents Are Ignored?

If an LLC’s leadership ignores service of process notices, a lawsuit can continue without input from the LLC. Typically, that will result in a default judgment against the LLC — a court decision in favor of the plaintiff.

If the lawsuit notice fell through the cracks because the LLC didn’t keep its registered agent information up to date with the state or the LLC has failed to maintain a registered agent, the entity could lose its status of good standing with the state. That could mean the LLC members will be held personally liable for the legal troubles of the business, and the state might even suspend or administratively dissolve the LLC.

The last thing any business owner needs is to find out their LLC’s assets were seized in settlement of a lawsuit they were unaware of! That could happen if a service processor is unable to deliver legal notices because the LLC hasn’t designated a trustworthy registered agent.

Do your homework, consider more than price alone, and make an informed decision.

Choose CorpNet as Your Registered Agent for Your Service of Process

Put your LLC or Corporation in capable hands by choosing CorpNet as your agent for your service of process.

  • Registered agent services in all 50 states
  • Volume discounts for multiple LLCs in one state or multiple states
  • Convenient and fast electronic service of process delivery
  • Full suite of business formation and compliance services 
<a href="https://www.corpnet.com/blog/author/nellieakalp/" target="_self">Nellie Akalp</a>

Nellie Akalp

Nellie Akalp is an entrepreneur, small business expert, speaker, and mother of four amazing kids. As CEO of CorpNet.com, she has helped more than half a million entrepreneurs launch their businesses. Akalp is nationally recognized as one of the most prominent experts on small business legal matters, contributing frequently to outlets like Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable, and Fox Small Business. A passionate entrepreneur herself, Akalp is committed to helping others take the reigns and dive into small business ownership. Through her public speaking, media appearances, and frequent blogging, she has developed a strong following within the small business community and has been honored as a Small Business Influencer Champion three years in a row.

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