The Articles of Incorporation are the documents you need to file with the state to register as a formal corporate entity.  You might also know it as the “Charter,” the “Articles of Association,” or the “Certificate of Incorporation,” depending on which state you live in.

 If you hire an attorney to prepare the Articles of Incorporation, then you might wind up with lengthy pages detailing every aspect of the business functions, but this is not necessary. 

 In fact, you might want to keep your Articles of Incorporation short so that you have more flexibility to modify your corporate structure as you see fit.  If you detail everything upon registration, then you’ll have to go through a modification process to amend the articles.  Instead, save the specifics for your bylaws.

Most states require that only a small amount of information be included in the Articles of Incorporation, including:

* The official name of the corporation – whether you want it be Incorporated, Inc., Corporation, Corp., Company, or Co.
* The address of the corporate entity – including the street address and the mailing address.
* The number of shares of stock the corporation is authorized to use, which is usually an even number such as 100, 1000, or 1 million.  If you have different classes of stock, then your articles must designate them.
* The name and address of the incorporator, even if you’ve hired a person or company to file the Articles for you, because it doesn’t matter if this person has a direct interest in the corporation.
* The duration of the corporation if it is not going to be perpetual.
* The effective date if you do not want it to be the date of the filing. 
* The name of the registered agent and the address of the registered office including the agent’s acceptance need to be included but cannot be a residence unless it doubles as the office.

You should be sure to sign and date the Articles of Incorporation and have the registered agent sign a statement accepting his duties.  Then, you simply file the Articles of Incorporation with your Secretary of State by sending the paperwork, along with the filing fee. 

You should have your answer within a week or two, depending on the state you file in.  If you need faster service, then contact your Secretary of State to ask about paying for a courier service.