Can I Be the Custodian of My Own IRA?

Custodians for Individual Retirement Accounts must be financial institutions licensed under federal and state regulations, offering an array of investment opportunities such as real estate and privately held businesses.

Prior to choosing a custodian, take note of its pricing arrangements. Some charge fees based on the type of investments purchased while others impose an annual flat fee.


IRAs are tax-advantaged accounts that help people save for retirement. Individual taxpayers have several choices when selecting an IRA type; traditional and Roth accounts are available, while self-employed workers or small business owners may consider SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) or SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) accounts instead.

Banks acting in custodial capacity tend to handle accounts under this type in their commercial division and not trust, although their exact responsibilities will depend upon the terms of any trust instrument through which this relationship was established.

Bank custodians usually only hold title to an IRA’s assets and store or safeguard them, providing account statements to their owner as well as recording transactions, compiling data reports and providing account statements. They cannot offer investment advice themselves but instead refer the IRA owner to trusted financial, legal or tax advisors for guidance.

Mutual Fund Companies

Self-Directed IRA custodians typically provide general accounts that allow account holders to invest in any asset allowed by the IRS, including real estate or startup companies. Some IRA custodians also allow account holders to invest in alternative assets like real estate.

Selecting an ideal custodian when investing in new property or other investments with multiple transactions is especially essential when purchasing such an asset. Any violations to IRS rules could disqualify an IRA from tax deferment status or trigger a taxable distribution, potentially nullifying tax deferral benefits and prompting taxable distributions from its account.

IRA custodians must abide by stringent regulations, which include not providing investment or financial advice. Any custodian that claims they provide such advice is likely engaging in fraud. Furthermore, custodians do not verify investments for authenticity – yet fraudulent schemes often take advantage of this fact by falsely claiming to have verified an investment’s legitimacy.

Brokerage Firms

Brokerage firms may serve as an IRA custodian if an account holder’s investment goals include individual stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and annuities; however they lack the flexibility needed for self-directed IRAs when investing in alternative assets like real estate or precious metals. Brokerage firms must first be approved as trust companies by the IRS before providing custody over retirement assets.

To ensure that the firm you select offers high-quality service, inquire about its fees and commissions charged. Some offer fixed fee arrangements while others charge by service rendered or have flat annual rates; regardless of what approach is taken make sure to understand and compare this structure against those offered by other IRA custodians.

Insurance Companies

As per IRS requirements, only custodians approved by them can serve as self-directed IRA custodians. This can include some banks and trust companies as well as companies specializing in self-directed IRAs. Fees charged should also be considered when choosing an IRA custodian such as account maintenance fees, load fees (charged in mutual funds) and trade commissions.

The IRS maintains a list of approved nonbank trustees and custodians to assist investors in selecting an approved IRA custodian. However, investors should remember that these companies are just custodians and cannot offer investment advice or offer protection from losses or suggest investments. Fraudsters sometimes pose as custodians offering protection from losses or suggesting investments; avoid these scams by choosing a real custodian; be sure to find information quickly while asking any pertinent questions and getting quick and accurate responses back from customer service staff; before choosing any fraudsters trying to pass themselves off as real custodians!


Robo-advisors provide an ideal option for individuals looking to begin investing, yet lack either the financial knowledge or time required to manage it themselves. These services typically offer preselected investments such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and low-cost index mutual funds – making investing simpler.

Robo advisors can also be an invaluable aid in setting and reaching short- and long-term goals, offering regular feedback about whether investors are on track with meeting their targets, helping to keep investors focused and motivated to save and invest.

Investors must consider the fees charged by robo-advisors when selecting one as their partner. These charges go beyond any custodian or administrator costs and could include specific investments like real estate or startup equity that incur additional charges.

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