Most states require that an entity doing business within their borders designate and maintain a Registered Agent. The Registered Agent can be an individual or company hired to receive Service of Process on behalf of the business. However, not all entities are registered in all states, not all are active and some do business under as many as 40 plus entity names. It is the lawyer's responsibility to find out which entity name they are serving and who the Registered Agent is. If the information is wrong, the lawsuit will be delayed. To find the necessary information, the attorney's staff should be intimately familiar with Secretary of State websites.Each Secretary of State website lists an entity as either "Active" or "Inactive." "Active" means the entity is in good standing and has paid their yearly fee while "Inactive" means they have not, In fact, "Inactive" may indicate that the entity is no longer in business or meet the qualification so the Five-year rule.The most perplexing error may be in determining which entity name is the correct one. For example, an entity may be doing business under both Talbott, Inc. and Talbott, Corp. If a lawsuit is submitted just to "Talbott," it will be returned.The larger Registered Agent companies have offices in nearly every state. They collectively receive thousands of lawsuits a week that generate huge piles of work. Of those, several hundred are returned at the Registered Agent's expense for various reasons. Attorney's who repeatedly make the same errors soon stand out in the Service of Process Specialist's mind and their lawsuits often go to the bottom of the pile. There is no time limit on returns, the Registered Agent makes no money and it may be as much at a week or two before the returns are written up and sent out.The answer is simple. A well informed staff that understands the Registered Agent process can virtually eliminate these and many other costly mistakes.
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