Who Is an IRA Trustee Or Custodian?

When investing in self-directed IRAs, choosing an appropriate custodian can have a tremendous effect on your opportunities. Look for firms that adhere to IRS requirements and offer regulatory oversight.

Assure the firm has experience processing transactions for non-traditional investments such as real estate or closely held businesses. Avoid facilitators that push a specific type of investment for fees.


Custodians for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) are charged with safeguarding retirement savings of their clients, such as banks, brokerage firms, mutual fund companies or trust companies. Some financial institutions may even be approved by the IRS to hold self-directed IRAs (SDIRAs).

An IRA custodian must offer knowledgeable specialists that can answer questions about an account and its investments, while providing an easy-to-use website allowing account owners to monitor investments and complete transactions effortlessly.

A good IRA custodian should not provide investment advice or recommend investments to account holders, engage in prohibited transactions, or violate rules concerning loans, unrelated business taxable income (UBTI), contribution limits or disqualified parties (such as spouses and children of account owners) investing or benefitting from their account. Ultimately, their service must withstand scrutiny by both IRS and regulatory bodies.


Custodians are financial institutions that hold alternative investments from retirement accounts of individuals for safekeeping and IRS reporting purposes. These companies are subject to audit by the IRS and must abide by its rules and guidelines.

When selecting a custodian, be sure to select one with experience managing transactions for the type of assets you plan to hold. Also consider their servicing times and communication style; no one wants a company that takes forever to process their transaction or doesn’t respond in a timely fashion.

Keep your fees to a minimum by selecting a custodian who does not charge excessive fees, such as annual account maintenance fees, load charges (for mutual funds) and trading commissions. Furthermore, look for custodians offering no-load mutual funds and knowledgeable specialists available either online or by telephone to answer your questions regarding self-directed IRA account statements such as prices or asset values of alternative investments.


IRS rules mandate that custodians oversee IRA assets. This includes verifying contributions are within legal limits and that people meet age criteria for self-directed retirement plans. A custodian also needs to report when early withdrawals occur as well as ensure other IRA rules such as keeping proper documentation for investments, reporting to IRS when required, and avoiding prohibited transactions are met.

Self-directed IRA custodians do not provide financial or investment advice; rather, they facilitate non-prohibited transactions on behalf of the IRA owner and can assist in finding investments as well as fulfill other necessary custodial duties associated with an IRA account.

If you are selecting a self-directed IRA custodian, be sure to review customer testimonials, security protocols and fees, response time to queries/concerns as well as their knowledge regarding investments such as real estate, private equity, precious metals and notes/loans available through self-directed IRAs.

Investment Manager

Custodians of individual retirement accounts must keep up-to-date on all applicable rules and regulations that pertain to them, making sure their accounts comply with them and avoid prohibited transactions or errors that could incur penalties or result in disqualification of tax-advantaged status for an IRA.

An effective IRA custodian must offer a range of investment options to give self-directed IRAs greater flexibility, including real estate, cryptocurrency, private investments, precious metals and notes/loans. Finding such an advisor should not be hard work!

An IRA custodian should offer a wide range of investments and deliver regular statements and reports so the owner is kept informed on the status of their savings. Customer service quality should also be of primary concern; responsive and easy-to-contact custodians with strong record-keeping systems would make an ideal partner.

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