When starting a company, many entrepreneurs plan for the obvious startup costs like advertising, furniture, and equipment. But some leave the document-filing work to their lawyers and suddenly discover that they have incurred thousands of dollars in legal costs from the billable hours attorneys charge to prepare and file the formal incorporation documents. The good news is these legal fees can be greatly reduced when you incorporate online.

Choosing the right incorporation option for your new business requires thoughtful consideration and research. There are many options to choose from, including the C corporation, the S corporation, and the increasingly popular limited liability company. Your startup funds are well spent in seeking the advice of a lawyer and/or an accountant to help you choose the business structure that best protects your legal interests and minimizes your taxes. But once they have helped you choose the right structure, there is no need to have them prepare and file the incorporation documents. Lawyers will charge you high hourly rates to prepare and file the documents, but you can pay a greatly reduced rate to incorporate online with a company that specializes in business filings.

When you have selected the business structure that is right for you, simply choose an experienced incorporator and complete its online incorporation form. It usually takes just a few minutes. The online incorporator will charge you a filing fee for its work to prepare the articles of incorporation and file them with the state. It will also collect the state’s fee for filing the documents. The online incorporator will usually have a few incorporation packages to choose from, which range from a very basic form preparation and filing package to a more complete package which would include federal tax ID obtainment (if you are planning to pay employees and vendors) and certified copies of state filed documents (which may be required by lenders). Once you have placed your incorporation order online, the incorporator prepares and files the articles of incorporation with the state and returns your completed incorporation package to you in a few days or weeks (depending on the state).

Karen Kobelski General Manager BizFilings Madison, Wis.

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