Does a Self Directed IRA Need a Custodian?

Self-directed IRAs differ from traditional IRAs in that they allow investors to invest in alternative assets like real estate, checkbook IRA/LLCs and precious metals – though each asset comes with unique rules which may require special care in handling.

To protect yourself against violating these regulations, it’s wise to work with a knowledgeable financial advisor. To keep from potentially breaking these rules, it may be helpful to hire one as your trusted guide for managing your SDIRA and any asset purchases from disqualified persons.


Many IRA holders find the limited investment options offered by traditional banks or brokerages limiting. They prefer diversifying outside the stock market, which a self-directed IRA allows. Unfortunately, however, these retirement accounts come with additional IRS rules and reporting requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to comply with them.

SDIRAs can be used to invest in real estate, private equity and alternative assets such as precious metals that meet purity standards, cryptocurrencies, promissory notes and tax lien certificates – but due to their unique risks they cannot be monitored by custodians; for this reason it’s advisable to hire an advisor with experience managing them.

Your SDIRA withdrawals before reaching age 5912 are still subject to taxes and any prohibited transactions – such as investing in an LLC established by promoters who prioritize selling rather than legal and tax compliance – could incur stiff IRS penalties.


Self-directed IRAs allow investors to diversify their portfolio by holding assets like real estate, private equity in startups, precious metals, etc. This gives greater flexibility for diversification purposes while increasing returns in retirement; however, self-directed accounts also carry greater risks.

Investors should be mindful that many IRA custodians charge fees for their services. These charges may be asset-based and increase as an account grows larger. Investors should remain mindful of these fees when researching potential IRA custodians.

As investors, it is also wise to be wary of fraudulent investment scams, including self-directed IRAs that are frequently targeted by fraudsters selling false investments to unwitting investors. Red flags include unfamiliar investment companies with no track record, claims of unreasonably high returns or no third-party oversight.


Traditional IRAs typically limit your investments to stocks, bonds and mutual funds; with a self-directed IRA, however, you have access to alternative assets like real estate and precious metals that allow you to diversify your portfolio and potentially increase returns.

Though these investments may offer greater returns, they also come with increased levels of risk. It is vitally important that any investment you consider undergoes a careful research process and obtain proof of value from its provider.

As with any investment, doing your due diligence when investing in a self-directed IRA is especially essential, since custodians don’t assess quality or legitimacy of investments. Account holders must make sure they’re adhering to all IRA rules relating to prohibited transactions that could incur heavy fines from the IRS.

Be wary of self-directed IRA custodians that do not offer the same level of protections for alternative asset accounts as other brokerage firms; research the licensing and registration credentials, as well as security provisions of any potential custodians.


The IRS stipulates that custodians for self-directed IRAs must be banks, trust companies or entities approved by them. To verify whether a firm is legitimate, consult the IRS list for legality or registration as well as seek references or consult with legal or investing professionals for second opinions on potential custodians.

Self-directed IRA custodians often charge account opening and annual fees as well as asset-specific charges that can quickly add up, taking a bite out of your returns.

Note that fraudulent investments may make their way into self-directed IRAs. Recognizing red flags such as new investments companies with no track record or claims of astronomically high returns without third party audits can help detect fraud and identify red flags to prevent it. It’s also wise to inquire with the custodian regarding their security procedures to protect personal data hacking incidents that might take place – it would help your investment stay safe!

Raymond Banks Administrator
Raymond Banks is a published author in the commodity world. He has written extensively about gold and silver investments, and his work has been featured in some of the most respected financial journals in the industry. Raymond\\\'s expertise in the commodities market is highly sought-after, and he regularly delivers presentations on behalf of various investment firms. He is also a regular guest on financial news programmes, where he offers his expert insights into the latest commodity trends.

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