Incfile vs LegalZoom
Starting a new business can feel complex, but entrepreneurs and startup founders have many tools at their disposal. One resource that is incredibly useful at the start of any new venture is a business formation service. These companies help you form your new business by guiding you through the process to satisfy all state and federal filing requirements.
There are many service providers to choose from. Two popular options are LegalZoom and Incfile. In this article, we will compare the two, helping you choose the best fit for your small business.
Incfile vs LegalZoom: Quick look
Essentially, these two services help guide you through the business registration process. Instead of working directly with the state agency in charge of new businesses, you’ll work with Incfile or LegalZoom. Although the basics are similar, there are some key differences to consider.
Similarities between Incfile and LegalZoom
- Both make it much easier – and faster – to start a new LLC
- Both offer the choice of business structure: limited liability company, corporation, etc.
- Both cover all basic business formation papers and filings
- Both can help you form a new business entity in any US state
- Both can help you obtain Doing Business As (DBA) names
- Both can serve as your Registered Agent
- Both have a variety of business formation packages to choose from
- Both can help with ongoing filing, such as annual report service
- Both offer extra services, upsells and add-ons
- Both offer good ease of use, making a complicated process much simpler
Differences between Incfile and LegalZoom
- LegalZoom is a legal services provider; Incfile is primarily just for business formation
- LegalZoom offers legal advice, copyright protections, contract review, and much more; Incfile does not
- Incfile includes Registered Agent services free for one year; LegalZoom charges $249/year
- Incfile has plans from $0 + state fees; LegalZoom starts at $79 + state fees
Incfile is a business formation service. Their primary focus is on helping clients start new business entities – in fact, their tagline is “Where Business Begins”. Since Incfile’s founding in 2004, it has helped form over 250,000 new businesses. With the service, you can start a:
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- Corporation (C-corp or S-corp)
- Nonprofit corporation
- Partnership (LP or LLP)
Incfile offers some of the lowest prices in the industry. In fact, they have a free plan. The Silver Package costs $0 – you simply pay for the state filing fees (which are mandatory, even if you file directly with the state). In addition to this plan, they have a few other packages, ranging from $149 to $299.
Incfile is likely the cheapest LLC formation service available. If you’re wondering how they are able to offer these services for free, it’s because of partnerships they have with other companies. When you sign up for Incfile, they will recommend various products to you, such as business bank accounts, business website hosting, etc.
LegalZoom is an online legal services provider. They do offer business formation services, but that’s just one aspect of their selection of features. With LegalZoom, you can form a:
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- Corporation (C-corp or S-corp)
- Nonprofit Corporation
- Partnership (LP and LLP)
Beyond business formation, LegalZoom offers a broad suite of legal services. They can help with all your legal needs – from drafting a Last Will and Testament to handling various other estate-planning tasks. They can help you file for trademarks and copyrights. And, of course, they can help with ongoing business compliance, custom legal forms, company alerts, legal issues, and filing requirements.
Also unique to LegalZoom is their on-demand legal advice service. For a subscription fee ($10 to $35 a month), you can get unlimited 30-minute legal help consultations with a legal professional. This could be to review business contracts, discuss business structure amendments, or even help with estate planning.
Incfile vs LegalZoom: Pricing
These services are quite different in their overall offerings. That said, we can compare pricing when it comes to business formation packages to get an idea of how these two companies stack up in terms of value for small business owners.
- Silver Package – $0 + state fees – standard filing speedThis plan covers the basics of business formation, helping you file required paperwork with state agencies. It also comes with one year free Registered Agent services, which will renew at $119/year, unless cancelled.
- Gold Package – $149 + state fees – standard filing speed; express shippingThis plan adds bonus features, like an operating agreement, banking resolution, and Employer Identification Number (EIN) tax ID.
- Platinum Package – $299 + state fees – expedited filing; expedited shippingThis plan adds a business domain name and email, additional useful business contract templates, and more.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – plans begin at $79 + state fees
- Corporations (C-corp, S-corp) – plans begin at $149 + state fees
- Nonprofit entities – plans begin at $149 + state fees
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) – plans begin at $149 + state fees
- Limited Partnership (LP) – plans begin at $149 + state fees
Other Business Services from LegalZoom
- Registered Agent services – starting at $249/year
- Business advisory plan from licensed attorneys – starting at $31.25/month
- Personal legal advisory services – starting at $9.99/month
- Trademark registration – starting at $199 + federal fees
- Copyright registration – starting at $114 + federal fees
- Patents – starting at $699 + fees
When comparing LegalZoom vs Incfile pricing, you’ll notice a few things off the bat. For one, Incfile has more of a “bundle” approach, while LegalZoom starts with the basics and lets you add on additional services.
On the lower end of the scale, Incfile certainly has cheaper prices. Their basic plan is free and includes one year of Registered Agent services. The same service from LegalZoom would cost you at least $348. For the upper-tier packages, pricing is more similar between these two services.
As for Registered Agent services, which is something that many companies will keep long-term, Incfile is a clear winner. It costs just $119/year (with the first year free), compared to $249/year from LegalZoom. That said, some people choose to serve as their own Registered Agent, if certain requirements are met.
Incfile vs LegalZoom: Features
When it comes to business formation services, the features of these two firms are similar. They both support the same types of business entities (LLC, corporation, partnership, nonprofit), they both serve as Registered Agents, etc. They can both help you select an available business name, with a company name availability search feature. The main difference here is pricing, and the bundle structure of Incfile compared to the à la carte style of LegalZoom.
Both services also offer some level of ongoing business services. They can both help with annual report filing, and other necessary steps to keep your business compliant and in good standing.
As for processing time, both services are similar. Incfile offers a more tiered approach, depending on the filing services you select. Both can file by the next business day if you’re willing to pay for expedited services. Although, keep in mind that the total turnaround time for incorporation or LLC formation still requires waiting for your state’s agency to process everything.
Where the services really differ is in legal services. LegalZoom offers a huge range of legal services, for both business owners and individuals. On the business side, they can help file for patents, trademarks and copyrights, and help you review business contracts and other legal documents, with their business legal advisory services. On the personal side, they can help draft a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and much more. LegalZoom can also connect you to qualified experts in your area; tax professionals for business tax consultations, attorneys for in-person representation, and more.
Incfile vs LegalZoom: Customer service
Both of these services offer lifetime support for clients. Both can be reached via phone or email.
- LegalZoom customer support can be reached via phone and email. Representatives are available Mon-Fri 5 am to 7 pm PT, and Weekends 7 am to 4 pm PT
- Incfile customer support can be reached via phone and email. Representatives can be reached Monday – Friday from 9 am to 6 pm CST.
In this category, LegalZoom earns some bonus points for being available on the weekend. Plus, LegalZoom offers legal advice services, allowing you to discuss legal matters over the phone with licensed attorneys.
To be clear, neither of these companies has a great reputation for customer service. If you look at customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), TrustPilot, etc. you will see many complaints about customer support. Overall, ratings for both companies are mediocre – but similar to each other. Some positive reviews noted better experiences with email support, compared to phone support.
Which should you choose?
We’ve covered all the details, but what’s the bottom line? Which firm makes more sense for your new business venture?
Choose Incfile if…
- You plan to use Registered Agent services. Incfile includes the first full year for free, and renews at $119/year; LegalZoom costs $249/year and does not include an introductory period.
- You want to save money. Incfile’s plan pricing is substantially cheaper than LegalZooms, particularly if you just need the basics.
Choose LegalZoom if…
- You want more advanced legal services. LegalZoom offers a full suite of legal services for both personal and business needs; Incfile focuses solely on business formation.
- You want help with intellectual property protections. LegalZoom can help with patents, trademarks and more; Incfile cannot.