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The Self-Directed IRA

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Overview

This form of IRA varies from other IRAs because these portfolios may possess a variety of different alternative investments that are excluded from other IRAs. Real estate is the investment that is most commonly used for Self-Directed IRA’s. This is a great way to defer the gains on real estate that is sold until the money is withdrawn from the account.

The investments available in Self-Directed IRA’s include: real estate, private companies, cryptocurrencies, debt notes, and more.

These IRAs can be classified as either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA

Additionally, the account is also managed by a trustee or custodian, but hence its name, is self-managed by the account holder, meaning that the holder can choose to sell and buy these investments themselves.

Risks

If the holder lacks experience with portfolio management, they put themselves at risk of a lower return or loss money all together.

Moreover, if the holder breaks a rule, whether knowingly or unknowingly, they can be held liable for these rules and it may make all of the money in the IRA taxable. There is a strict list of rules that must be followed within these accounts and they oftentimes can lead to audits.

Benefits

If the holder does have experience in investments that are not publicly traded this can be a way to invest in those companies on a tax deferred basis. This can be a great way for real estate investments to buy and sell properties and shield the gains from taxes either until the money is withdrawn or completely within a Roth IRA. This can also be used for private companies, startups and crypto currencies. These can supercharge returns but also adds significantly more risk.

The holder may also invest in companies that are not publicly traded, meaning that they could further diversified their investments as well as increase their market for potential high-growth securities.

Opening an Account

Although the account is by its name, “self-directed”, the account still requires a custodian to sign off on the account

Most often, brokerage firms can act as custodians for IRAs. However, most big name custodians do not offer Self-Directed IRA’s. Here is a list according to Investopedia of 6 firms that offer Self-Directed IRAs.

Investors should always do their due diligence on a self-directed IRA company before moving funds into it. Not only do these accounts have more stringent IRS rules, but the industry also attracts fraudulent companies that prey upon investors.

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