September 10, 2009, 10:10 PM — I've recently incorporated a business, paying a local attorney what I thought was a reasonable rate to provide assistance. But compelling web services can perform the same process, minus the value of a personal contact. How much is a local attorney worth to you? In my case, the difference was about $1,000, and I wish I'd considered the web alternative.
MyCorporation submits your basic filing, registering your corporation and generating its tax ID number. The service frequently mentions that it's owned by Intuit, trying to ease fears that a website can substitute for an attorney. If you trust Intuit's financial applications, there's not much difference trusting the company for this service.
You choose from several levels of service, including an absolute-basic free tier; at no legal cost, MyCorporation will check to see if your company name is available and prepare articles of incorporation. You'll pay state and other fees when filing. In my example, MyCorporation charges about $145 for state fees and "shipping & handling" in California.
The paid levels range from $99 to $299, and you'll still have to add those state fees. But depending on your tier, the paid editions include things such as corporate bylaws, stock certificates, annual report services, and other functions.
In my case, my attorney was helpful to advise between a corporation and LLC, including specific styles within those categories. MyCorporation gives background details on those and other basics, but you'll have to weigh the value of personal contact. You can call a MyCorporation phone number for assistance, so maybe that's a sufficient alternative.
Other, optional services file for trademarks and copyrights, and perform other business mainstays. So, MyCorporation could be useful for steps beyond your initial setup.
MyCorporation won't defend you in a lawsuit and may lack the personal touch for which you pay a local attorney. MyCorporation won't prepare specific contracts or advise me about my legal relationships with other businesses. But depending on your level of capital, the initial $1,000 that the service could save might make a big difference for your young company.
Zack Stern is building a new business from San Francisco, where he frequently contributes to PC World.