Direct Incorporation vs LegalZoom

One of the easiest ways to launch a business is through creating an LLC online with an online filing company. For one, they can form a new LLC while avoiding filing errors so common in DIY methods. For another, it’s much cheaper than an attorney and less stressful than doing it on your own.

But is it even possible to find the best provider out of the dozens of options? This Direct Incorporation vs LegalZoom comparison aims to make a case for each of these popular providers based on the context of your business.

This includes their key differences and similarities, and how each of these traits influences the compatibility of these business formation services with your company.

Key Points for Comparison

With either LegalZoom or Direct Incorporation, it’s possible to start an LLC perfectly seamlessly. Both are viewed as some of the best online business formation services, but it’s best to establish their respective strengths through examining the following categories:

  1. LLC prices and features;
  2. Quality of customer service;
  3. Turnaround times;
  4. Ease of use;
  5. Experience;
  6. Reviews.

Common Features of Direct Incorporation and LegalZoom

  1. Efficiency: Direct Incorporation and LegalZoom make for a reliable method of launching an LLC speedily and without any fuss as both can file LLC formation documents in any jurisdiction;
  1. Customer Support: the two providers guarantee unlimited access to their reliable customer support services at every stage of the process as well as after the formation. Their customer reps are insightful and well-informed on all subjects relating to business registration and maintenance;
  1. Additional Services: if you need other services after you set up a new LLC with them, both online business services have a range of business solutions for optimizing your operations such as registered agent service, foreign qualification, EIN, and more;
  1. Pricing Structures: both companies are also able to commence an LLC business at affordable rates compared to attorney services. Despite not being the cheapest in the industry, the two have fairly reasonable prices accessible even to small startups;
  1. Security: the two take great care in protecting the privacy of their clients. They do not share your information with third parties, and their website security is on the level;
  1. Educational: their websites offer extensive resources with relevant business information and tutorials on how to form your company, choose a business structure, licensing, and more.

Direct Incorporation and LegalZoom Differences 

Services and Pricing

Both companies cover all necessary features for an LLC registration according to state requirements. Each offers several LLC formation packages of varying contents and pricing. 

LegalZoom customers are free to choose one of the 3 options:

  1. Economy package ($79 + state filing fees) allows for a formation within a reasonable 30-day period. It includes:
  • Name availability search;
  • Preparation and filing of articles of organization;
  • Banking resolution;
  • LLC Next Steps Guide;
  • Peace of mind review;
  • Lifetime customer support.
  1. Standard package ($329 + state filing fees) is aimed at a 15-day LLC launch, adding to the previous set of features the following:
  • LegalZoom VIP Processing;
  • 20 membership certificates;
  • Souvenir seal and organizer.
  1. Express Gold package ($349 + state filing fees) forms a business within 7-10 days and adds a couple of premium features:
  • Rush Processing With Secretary of State;
  • Express Shipping.

As for Direct Incorporation, they work with 4 formation packages:

  1. Standard Package – $147 + state fees:
  • Preparation and filing of articles of organization;
  • EIN;
  • Prompt Shipment;
  • Domain name securing;
  • S-Corporation Assistance;
  • Six months of registered agent service;
  • Online storage for documents;
  • Filing of State Franchise Tax;
  • Client Resource Center access.
  1. Premier Package – $297 + state fees:
  • Operating agreement;
  • Boxed Corporate Records Binder;
  • Corporate suite CD;
  • Attorney-drafted sample forms;
  • Stock Transfer Ledger;
  • LLC kit and seal.
  1. Elite Package – $429 + state fees:
  •  Website builder tool;
  •  5 free email accounts;
  •  1-year domain name registration;
  •  3 months of free website hosting;
  •  DIY website builder software;
  •  Stock logo.
  1. Venture Package – $873 + state fees:
  • Trademark protection;
  • 1-year website hosting;
  • Web design service;
  • Custom logo design;
  • 1-year Executive Club subscription.

It’s only natural to want to choose a company based on its service value, i.e. how well does its feature set justify its pricing. This LegalZoom vs Direct Incorporation review shows Direct Incorporation as the winner of the two.

Though LegalZoom’s basic package is only $79, whereas Direct Incorporation’s starter pack is $147, the latter includes six months of LLC registered agent service to make up for that.

Both companies can not only open a business but also help your LLC through their additional services such as:

  • Annual reports;
  • Registered agent services;
  • Doing business as (DBA) names;
  • Dissolution;
  • Legal advice.

LegalZoom charges $299/yr for their registered agent service without a trial period option, while Direct Incorporation’s fee is $159/yr after the six-month trial.

Both also offer specialized features that the other doesn’t. Direct Incorporation, for example, works with web and logo design. LegalZoom’s key advantage is their personal services like testament, divorce papers, last will, living trusts, and more.

Customer Support

LegalZoom and Direct Incorporation offer ongoing support to all customers throughout the process of opening an LLC as well as its maintenance.

Direct Incorporation can be reached by phone and email on Mon-Fri from 10 am to 5 pm EST. It’s one of the very few providers in the industry that supplies the contact information of their employees and their department affiliation, so you could reach out to the person who specializes in the field of your particular problem.

LegalZoom also has a strong customer support team that takes queries via phone and email. The company’s strongest point here is their extended hours: Mon-Fri from 10 am to 8 pm EST and 10 am to 7 pm on weekends.

Turnaround Times

By starting your LLC with Direct Incorporation, you are likely to get your paperwork filed within one business day.

The subsequent speed of business formation is contingent on the state of formation. Their website offers a handy table with formation times by state and expedited options.

LegalZoom estimates their LLC registration times based on the type of your formation package:

  • Economy package: 30 days;
  • Standard package: 15 days;
  • Express Gold package: 7-10 days.

Comparing Direct Incorporation vs LegalZoom in this category shows that Direct Incorporation has better odds. Their approach relies on state timelines which makes more sense than adjusting the processing based on the package level.

Ease of Ordering Process

Although both services’ websites do their best at making the ordering process seamless, Direct Incorporation is more constructive about it. After selecting your LLC formation package, their online form will take under 15 minutes to fill, and that’s without incessant upsells or third-party offers.

Rather oddly, LegalZoom begins the process by asking for your information first and only then lets you choose add-on features and service packages. This registration method is somewhat backward and lacks pricing clarity—you won’t be able to see the total price of your order up until the end.

Experience

Direct Incorporation has been providing services for setting up an LLC since 2003, having worked with over 80 000 entities. 

LegalZoom’s track record is considerably more substantial. Since their launch in 2011, they have assisted over 2 million business clients.

That said, the two are equally experienced companies that have helped tens of thousands of business entities and are undoubtedly competent in their field.

Companies’ Customer Reviews

Direct Incorporation may have few online reviews, but their customer feedback is startlingly positive, showcasing deep trust on behalf of their clients.

As for LegalZoom reviews, neither they nor the company’s reputation is that clear-cut. They have over 2 000 reviews with equal amounts of positive and negative feedback. Many customers praise how easy it is to register a new business with the company, but criticize their customer support team.

Direct Incorporation vs LegalZoom, What Will You Choose?

Whether you hire Direct Incorporation or LegalZoom, the outcome will be a professionally formed and compliant LLC. Both have high rankings among the top LLC formation services, given their history of working with thousands of businesses and enduring reputations.

If you aren’t sure which website to use to create an LLC, it’s always a good idea to go with your personal preference or your business goals.

As such, Direct Incorporation is valuable for its branding services and is generally more generous with its service packages, particularly the trial policy that grants every customer six months of registered agent service.

LegalZoom is stronger on the brand awareness front. Their volume of customers is truly impressive, not to mention that their starting formation package is only $79 — nearly half as much as Direct Incorporation’s basic plan.

To sum up, LegalZoom and Direct Incorporation are still both excellent options suitable for a wide range of future companies. Neither will yield outright disappointing results, but hiring a cheaper alternative like ZenBusiness may be more relevant to thriftier entrepreneurs.