Do Self Directed IRAs Need a Custodian?

Do selfdirected IRAs need a custodian

Self-directed IRAs allow investors to purchase non-traditional investments like real estate, precious metals and startup equity; however, these must be carefully assessed in order to comply with IRS rules.

Investors must also be able to independently verify valuations of assets they purchase, especially since some alternative investments can be difficult and unreliable to appraise.


People seek self-directed IRA custodians primarily to diversify beyond traditional stocks and bonds. Popular alternative assets include real estate, private companies/funds, checkbook IRA LLCs, precious metals and promissory notes.

Custodians do not assume responsibility for screening investments, so investors must research potential purchases to make sure they make financial sense and consider whether the fees of the custodian fit with their investment strategy, according to InsognaCPA.

Custodians may charge fees for maintaining and transferring funds between accounts, as well as transaction and special service fees such as expediting requests or sending wire transfers. Investors should take care not to allow fees eat into their returns; fraudsters often misrepresent the duties of custodians to deceive investors; it’s therefore imperative that any information provided by custodians be verified, especially any promoters listing purchase price plus expected returns as asset valuation figures, which investors must verify is correct before investing.


Custodial fees can be expensive. They cover recordkeeping that surpasses what’s required of traditional IRA firms and managing various IRS forms such as 5498 and 1099-R; plus they help IRA holders comply with regulations against prohibited transactions.

Fees charged by an IRA depend on its contents. Maintenance and storage expenses will likely apply; in addition to transaction or trading fees depending on its total portfolio value.

Some IRA custodians offer additional services, including helping customers select investments and verifying information on illiquid assets. This helps protect IRA owners against fraud associated with alternative investments; signs of such activity could include brand new companies with no track record, boastful claims about unrealistically high returns, or no third-party oversight.

The best SDIRA custodians make it simple for IRA owners to manage their account digitally, providing direct investments online and bill pay services, among other services. Furthermore, they provide educational material for new investors so they can navigate this complex process more smoothly.


Self-directed IRAs differ from traditional IRAs in that they allow account owners to invest in nontraditional assets, like real estate. Therefore, custodians must take additional precautions in order to safeguard both the account and its assets.

Custodians may include banks, licensed trust companies or any other organization approved by the IRS to hold your IRA account and ensure it complies with government regulations. The best SDIRA custodians offer flat fees, exceptional client support and secure investing as part of their services.

When selecting a custodian, it’s essential to conduct extensive background and reputational research on them. Verify their registration with the SEC and establish whether their track record can stand the scrutiny of investors and industry professionals alike. Furthermore, look out for reviews from investors or industry professionals as well as prompt replies when you have queries; otherwise fees or penalties could arise unexpectedly.


Self-directed IRAs give you greater investment flexibility than traditional IRAs by enabling nontraditional assets like real estate, cryptocurrencies, precious metals and promissory notes to be included. In addition, your custodian must specialize in handling these nontraditional assets for added peace of mind.

As you shop for a self-directed IRA custodian, ensure it offers a transparent and fair fee schedule. Some providers charge asset-based fees based on account value while others levy an annual flat fee.

Custodians also play an essential role in helping you adhere to contribution limits and avoid prohibited transactions that would compromise the tax benefits associated with retirement savings accounts. Red flags include new investments with no track record, claims of unrealistic returns or no third-party oversight; additionally, be wary of investments requiring mortgage debt; these could carry potential tax implications that an unbiased financial or tax professional cannot identify for you.

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