How to Set Up a Self Directed IRA: A 5 Step Guide

Investing for retirement is something worth beginning as early as possible.

Current annual costs for someone over the age of 65 are approximately $50,000. So you’ll need a significant amount in your retirement account in order to live comfortably during this time.

One of the best ways to begin saving is a self-directed IRA, but not everyone knows how to go about it.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to set up a self-directed IRA.

1. Select a Provider

In order to get started, you’ll need to work with a financial institution or firm that facilitates the opening of IRA accounts. When searching, though, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind.

A provider with plenty of experience in this area that also offers a large range of investment opportunities is one you should prioritize. Additionally, your provider should also have experts willing to help you make the right investment decisions for your situation.

2. Choose What Type of IRA You Want to Open

Although you’ll be opening a self-directed IRA, you’ll still need to decide between a Roth IRA or traditional IRA.

Both allow you to invest in your retirement, but they have fairly different attributes. The best one for you will depend on your current finances and how much you plan to have invested by retirement.

You can learn more about the differences here.

3. Understand Your Investment Options

The main benefit that a self-directed IRA provides is the increased flexibility you’ll have when creating your investment portfolio. So, you’ll be able to fine-tune your investments to meet your long-term goals while remaining within your tolerated level of risk.

Working with a reputable provider will help you optimize your portfolio even further.

4. Apply For an Account

After you’ve decided who to work with and what type of IRA account you want to open, you’ll be required to complete an application.

You’ll need the following on hand in order for everything to go as quickly as possible:

  • Government ID
  • Social security number
  • Account information used for funding
  • Fee payment method
  • Info regarding your beneficiary

Depending on your provider, you may need to provide additional information.

5. Start Saving

After everything’s up and running, you can decide how you’d like to fund your account.

These come in three categories:

  1. Transfers: Funding your newly created IRA account from another IRA account
  2. Contributions: Sending money to your IRA account from a non-retirement account, such as from a checking or savings account
  3. Rollover: Transferring money to your IRA account from a different type of investment account, such as a 401K

Once you have money in your account, you can change how you’d like to contribute in the future if you need to. 

Understanding How to Set Up a Self-Directed IRA Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about how to set up a self-directed IRA in mind, you’ll be well on your way to financing your future as early as possible.

Want to learn more about how we can help? Feel free to get in touch with the team at Quest today to see what we can do.

Know the Difference: IRA Transfer vs. Rollover

In order to live comfortably during retirement, you’ll need to start saving as soon as you can. Opening an IRA account is widely known as one of the most reliable ways to invest in your future.

There are two major ways to fund your IRA: transfers and rollovers.

Not everyone understands the difference between the two, though. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about IRA transfer vs rollover.

An IRA Transfer

When you move money from one IRA account to another, it’s known as a transfer. The same concept applies as when you move money between two separate checking accounts at different banks.

When you move funds from an IRA at one firm to an IRA account managed by another firm, the transfer isn’t reported to the IRS and no taxes are incurred. This is due to the fact that the money in the original IRA account never actually reached the account owner.

If the owner were to instead withdraw the funds and then reinvest them into another account, they would incur taxes upon withdrawal. There may even be tax penalties depending on why the money was taken out of the account.

An IRA Rollover

A rollover occurs when money is either moved from an IRA account to a retirement plan or from a retirement plan to an IRA account. When the money never reaches the account holder, it’s known as a direct rollover.

This type of rollover differs from a conventional transfer because it involves two different types of plans.

Although direct rollovers are reported to the IRS, they generally aren’t taxable since the money was never made payable to the account holder.

During an indirect rollover, the money is distributed to the account holder. But, it isn’t taxed if the money is reinvested in an IRA account within 60 days. This will allow the account funds to remain tax-deferred.

How Should I Prepare For One?

Above all else, it’s important to understand that a rollover will likely take a couple of weeks to complete. This is crucial for those handling indirect rollovers to keep in mind, as penalties occur after 60 days from when the funds are distributed to the account holder.

Additionally, most institutions will require you to fill out paperwork in order to begin the process. Some providers may have specific requirements regarding rollovers that may become a factor when reallocating your funds.

Knowing The Difference Between IRA Transfer Vs Rollover Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about an IRA transfer vs rollover in mind, you’ll be well on your way toward putting money away toward a peaceful retirement.

Want to learn more about how we can help? Feel free to get in touch with us today to see what we can do.

3 tips for reducing taxes on your retirement income

Minimizing taxes for future retirement income is not always easy, but it is very important for putting together an effective retirement plan. For example, although many retirees expect to pay lower tax rates on their IRA or Individual 401k after they have left the workforce, their tax rates may still go up due to social security taxes and medicare taxes. 

Follow these three steps to reduce taxes on your retirement income and get the most out of retirement savings:

1. Learn about income tax advantages

Despite what many people think, certain types of income are taxed differently from others. A few examples include:

  • Capital gains
  • Real Estate investments
  • Earned income
  • Unearned income

If you buy a physical asset such as gold or an investment property, your tax rates for capital gains will be much lower than it would be for an ordinary earned income. 

Also, if you sell a home you’ve lived in for the past five years, you may qualify to have a large portion of your capital gains excluded from your taxes (double the amount if you are filing jointly as a married couple) by completing a 1031 exchange.

2. Create a budget to keep your expenses low

In order to reduce your taxes, you will want to stay in low tax brackets as much as you possibly can. One of the best ways to do this is to keep your expenses low so you won’t have to withdraw much from your retirement accounts. 

Create a budget to manage your annual spending and withdrawal habits, and if possible, move to a region with lower taxes and a lower cost of living.

3. Convert your traditional IRA or 401k into a Roth IRA

Another strategy is to convert your current retirement account into a Roth IRA. By doing this and paying taxes up-front when your marginal tax bracket is still low, you will reduce the amount of tax you will eventually pay in the future and you will be eligible for tax-free distributions after retirement.

Contact a Quest IRA Specialist today to learn more ways you can reduce taxes on your retirement or register for one of our events.

Three Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plan Options

If you want to supply your employees with retirement benefits, you have three major options. You can offer 401(k), SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA plans. 

Each solution provides different advantages, so it’s wise to learn the details on all three options and carefully compare them before making a choice.

Contributions

The SIMPLE IRA limits total yearly employee deposits to $19,000 or $22,000 after the age of 50. Both 401(k)s and SEP IRAs permit substantially larger contributions. Total deposits are capped at $57,000. Staff members over 50 years old can add more money to their retirement accounts as a “catch up”.

Both 401(k)s and SIMPLE IRAs permit employees to contribute funds whereas SEP IRAs do not provide this option. The employer is fully responsible for funding an SEP program. Companies can deposit amounts equaling as much as one-quarter of workers’ wages in SEP or 401(k) accounts.

Complexity

Both types of IRAs are simpler to establish and maintain than 401(k) plans. This saves time while reducing administrative costs. 

The process of creating an SEP program involves several steps, such as:

  • Producing a legal document.
  • Supplying said document to staff members.
  • Opening separate accounts for individual employees. 

Pre-written, ready-to-use agreements are available.

Qualifications

A company must have no more than 100 staff members to use a SIMPLE IRA. On the other hand, a SEP IRA would be used for sole-proprietors or those with few employees or employees that may be seasonal. The solo 401(k) plan requires an individual to have NO employees in any companies they may own.

Employees must earn a minimum of $5,000 per year in order to enroll in the SIMPLE accounts. The income requirement for SEP IRAs is only $600 and contingencies for eligibility can be made. For example, being over the age of 21 and having worked for the company for at least 3 of the last 5 years.

Similarities

All three options have penalties for people who withdraw money at less than 59.5 years of age. This fee equals one-tenth of the withdrawn amount. Federal taxes are usually deducted from withdrawals, even after a worker reaches retirement age. Nonetheless, employer-sponsored retirement plans are treated favorably by the IRS.

Please contact us to speak with a knowledgeable IRA Specialist to set up accounts or learn more about the above-mentioned options.

We serve clients promptly, offer a wide range of employee retirement solutions and waive many of the fees that competitors charge.

References

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/102714/what-are-main-differences-between-simplified-employee-pension-sep-ira-and-simple-ira.asp

https://twocents.lifehacker.com/the-sep-ira-limit-is-increasing-in-2019-1830310964

https://www.fool.com/investing/what-is-a-sep-ira.aspx

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/10/why-employer-matches-401k.asp

How to Roll Over a 401k to Roth IRA

When you leave a job where you had a 401k retirement plan, you’ll need to determine what you want to do with your account. You have the option to rollover your account to an IRA or individual retirement account. Many people prefer a Roth IRA to a traditional IRA. 

With a traditional IRA, you don’t pay taxes on your contributions, but you will pay taxes on your distributions in retirement. 

With a Roth IRA, you’ll make your deposits after taxes, but then you won’t need to pay taxes when you make your distributions. Here’s how to roll over your 401k to a Roth IRA.

Decide on an Account

Many financial institutions have Roth IRA options, so you’ll need to decide which one is best for you. Look at providers to see the fees they charge, the types of investments they offer, and the level of customer service they offer to their clients. 

Ideally, you’ll want an account that won’t charge you unnecessary fees, and that offers an investment option you are knowledgeable about. 

Ask for a Direct Rollover

When transferring your 401k to a Roth IRA, make sure to ask your 401k plan to give you a direct rollover. This means they will transfer the funds directly to your new account, instead of writing you a check directly that you would need to deposit. You will need the account information for your new IRA in order to do this. Most of the time, this will trigger a taxable event. 

Most 401k’s or employer sponsored plan contain pre-tax money. The amount you move to a Roth IRA will become taxable income for the year in which you made the conversion. From there on our, your earnings will grow tax free and ideally your distributions in retirement will be too. 

Pick your Investments

Once you have transferred the funds to your new account, it’s time to pick your investments. Different Custodians offer different opportunities, for example you may move funds to a Brokerage firm that offers mutual funds, however if you locate a “Self-Directed” custodian, you could use retirement funds for alternative assets such as Real Estate. 

If you’re unsure of which investments to choose, talk to an advisor to see what they’d recommend.

If you’re planning on rolling over your 401k to a Roth IRA, consider using Quest Trust Company to set up your new account. Quest offers truly self-directed IRAs with flexible investment options, as well as short processing times of less than 48 hours and minimal fees. Contact a Quest IRA specialist today to rollover your 401k to a Roth IRA.

How does a Solo 401k Work?

Solo 401k plans are employer-sponsored retirement accounts that offer self employed individuals with no common law employees other than a spouse the opportunity to establish a Profit Sharing Plan. 

Many companies offer solo 401k accounts to their employees, but not many people understand exactly how they work. 

Here’s what you need to know about your solo 401k before you get started:

You are the Employer and Employee of the Account

Although your solo 401k is an employer plan, it allows the business owner to be the Trustee of the plan, granting them access to make fiduciary decisions.

The Trustee will work with a financial institution to set up the account, and they will determine where to hold the funds, how much you contribute to the plan, and what investment to partake in. 

Rollover of previous accounts into the Solo 401k

You may have pre-existing 401k plans or IRA’s that you may want to consolidate inside of your Solo 401k. As long as those funds are pre-tax they can be rolled into the plan.  

If you are looking for a Roth Solo 401k, you may conduct “in plan Roth conversions” to convert your pre-tax funds to Roth. 

You are not able to move Roth IRA’s or previous Roth 401k’s into your solo 401k. However, You are able to contribute to a separate Roth IRA if you have one while continuing to make contributions to your Solo 401k. 

Taxes Advantages

By Contributing to your solo 401k and possibly to another Traditional IRA, you may be eligible to receive a tax deduction. This all depends on your modified AGI (adjusted gross income) in determining if you are eligible or not. 

Keep in mind that Solo 401k accounts are retirement accounts and non-qualified distributions are subject to penalty and taxation. The Solo 401k does have an option to take a loan out but it is limited to 50% of the account balance and cannot exceed $50,000.

If you’re looking to set up a retirement account, contact the experts at Quest Trust Company today. We offer Self-Directed IRAs and Solo 401k plans for individuals looking to invest into alternative assets. Our financial experts can help you find an account that makes sense for your financial needs.

Characteristics of the best IRA custodian

The internal revenue service (IRS) decree holds that Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) should have a custodian. The custodian is a financial institution that holds the account’s investments just for preservation. The custodian also ensures that all the government and IRS regulations are honored accordingly. While custodians are very easy to find, the problem is how to make the best choice. First, you have to decide the type of IRA you need and the type of investments you need to make with it. 

Traditional vs. Roth IRA 

Both accounts allow the money to grow free of income tax. The difference between the two is: 

  • In Traditional IRA, a tax deduction is made on the contributions from that year; this defers any tax payments until withdrawals are made years later. 
  • Whereas for Roth IRA, there is no tax break on the amount of money invested. In a nutshell, there are no taxes owed on the amount earned. 

Self-directed IRA

Whether Traditional or Roth, as an investor, you can choose to have your custodian manage the investments for you entirely or be self-directed. 

A self-directed IRA allows for expanded investment options. Although the name self-directed makes it seem like the owner has all the control, that’s not how it is. A Self-directed IRA will allow you to move away from the traditional publicly traded assets and utilize your money for alternative assets: Real Estate, Private companies. 

With this in mind, an investor, whether self-directed or not, would want to get the best custodian. 

The following are characteristics of the best IRA custodian. 

An Experienced Custodian – The best custodian for your self-directed IRA is a financial institution with significant experience in offering that service. Also, a custodian that focuses its efforts on providing self-directed IRA custodial services is more likely to serve your needs.  

Smooth Account Set-up – The process of setting up an IRA with a traditional custodian should be as brief and quick as setting up a self-directed IRA. Quest Trust Company, for example, provides easy downloads for new account information packages and forms on its website. 

Low-fees – Cost is one of the essential factors in business because it determines the total amount of profit expected. The most common fees for a custodian are the annual account maintenance fees, commissions, and loads for the mutual funds. All custodians do not charge the same. For example, maintenance fees are not a must. And if you are thinking of investing in mutual funds, it would be better to look for a custodian offering no-loads. 

Wide Selection – It would be best to have a more excellent variety of investment options, especially the individual stocks and bonds. 

Customer Service – It is imperative to have a knowledgeable person answering your calls and emails. It is very frustrating to receive incomplete or confusing information about your accounts. Therefore, while looking for a custodian, always vet the customer service. 

No Restrictions – As an investor, you must get a custodian that doesn’t limit your investment options. 

Education – Even if you are an experienced investor, you can benefit from an IRA custodian who provides you with educational opportunities. It would be wise to look for custodians who have relevant educational materials on their websites, such as in-person courses, live webinars, and overall educational resources.

Consolidation Savvy – For people having multiple IRA accounts, most custodians advise consolidation of the accounts into one single fund. Therefore it will be advisable to get a custodian who thoroughly understands the rules regarding consolidation.

After considering all of these characteristics, you should be able to make an informed decision about choosing the best custodian to help you set up and maintain your Self-directed IRA. 

At Quest Trust Company, we offer self-directed IRA accounts that place the customer at the heart of the decision-making process. Contact us today to discover how our expert staff can ease the administrative burden and help you to make the investment that is right for you.

Important criteria to consider when hiring an IRA custodian

If you are considering setting up an IRA, it is essential that you discuss significant criteria with an IRA specialist to determine whether a potential custodian is right for you. 

Here is some advice to help you have the most productive discussion:

Qualification status 

  • To set up an IRA, you are required by law to use a qualified custodian. 
  • It is therefore essential to check that the potential IRA custodian is certified, and you should ask to see some evidence of this status.

Experience 

  • You may have determined that the potential IRA custodian has the correct qualifications, but you should also find out how much experience they have. 
  • Newly qualified custodians will not have the same expertise as custodians who have dealt with numerous clients over a long-term period. 
  • Ask the potential custodian about their previous work to help decide whether they are the best fit for you.

Options for investment 

  • Custodians will offer different options for investment, so you must decide whether you want to invest using stocks and bonds or use alternative assets. 
  • This decision will affect the IRA custodian that you can choose, as not all will be confident with alternative investments.

Insurance 

  • Any financial account which you open must be insured to protect your money. 
  • Every company has a different threshold for insurance, so you should make sure to ask how much money their insurance covers. 
  • This insurance should at least cover the value of money that you expect to have in your account, but for optimum security, it is preferable for this to be exceeded. 

Cost 

  • You must use a custodian that meets your budget. 
  • The initial quote that custodians provide can quickly escalate in the event of hidden fees, so you should try to use a custodian with an honest and reliable reputation. 
  • This decision can help to avoid receiving a bill that you are unable to repay. 

Quest Trust Company is an innovative financial institution that offers IRAs, 401Ks, and other investment savings accounts. If you are looking for a reliable IRA custodian, contact one of our IRA specialists today!  Our expertise enables us to offer several investment options, all for a minimal fee.

The Pros and Cons of Opening Multiple IRAs

IRAs incentivize retirement preparations with tax advantages for investors. Most people are at least passingly familiar with some of the major IRA options, like Roth and Traditional IRAs or Individual 401ks, and each type offers different flexibilities and advantages. And while the average portfolio may only be stocked with an IRA provided by an employer, many smart investors have more than one IRA. 

The usual sweet spot is one IRA from an employer, and one additional Roth or Traditional IRA. But is this the right choice for everyone? Let’s explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of opening multiple IRAs. 

PROS 

Tax Diversification 

  • Different types of IRAs are taxed differently. By diversifying your portfolio with different types of IRAs, you can strategically increase your control over your finances. 
  • For example, Traditional IRAs can provide immediate tax deductions. 
  • This immediate deduction is often a great incentive for increased contribution to your IRA, which in turn can increase your earnings. 
  • Traditional IRAs also taxes investors on income used to fund the IRA only when they start withdrawing in retirement; this means that overall Traditional IRAs delay taxation on the investor. 
  • In contrast, Roth IRAs do not provide immediate tax deductions on income funding the IRA, but investors pay no taxes later on qualified distributions. 
  • By opening multiple accounts, investors have more control over tax distribution and diversity for greater control over personal finances. 

Flexibility on Withdrawals

  • Similarly, different types of IRAs have different rules about withdrawals before retirement. 
  • Traditional IRAs allow penalty-free, pre-retirement distributions under specific circumstances and compel account owners to take mandatory minimum distributions after turning 70 1/2 years old. 
  • Roth IRAs are somewhat more liquid and allow distribution of contributions (not earnings) anytime for any reason without taxes or penalties.
  • Deciding which option is best becomes obsolete if you have diversified your retirement planning with both. 

Potentially More Insurance Coverage

  • Your IRAs are stored in a brokerage or bank that, should it ever fail, is insured through SIPC or FDIC. 
  • Each of these typically imposes a cap on their coverage, however, and having one account or multiples of one type of account may limit you to just that capped coverage. 
  • Alternatively, bolstering your investments in more than one type of IRA can double your insurance coverage as each IRA may be considered as separate entities and therefore separately insured. 

Investment Diversification

  • Adding more investment opportunities to your portfolio diversifies your investments. 
  • You can opt for some to be professionally managed, or set online stock trading through a brokerage firm. 
  • Ultimately, diversified investments are more stable investments. 

Simplified Estate Planning

  • Retirement planning can add to your estate planning as well.
  • When opening an IRA, naming beneficiaries is part of the process.
  • And while you can name more than one beneficiary on an IRA, opening multiple IRAs enables you to distribute your beneficiaries as well, and prevent disputes over your estate. 
  • As you can see, there are many advantages to opening multiple IRAs. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides to weigh into your decision.

CONS 

More Accounts Means More Work

  • For starters, more IRAs require more management. 
  • That means more tax forms, privacy notices, and policy changes. 
  • There is also a limit to what you can contribute to your IRAs, even when you have multiple IRAs. 
  • That means that opening more IRAs requires that you properly account to make sure you don’t exceed your overall contribution limit. 
  • There are no limits to the number of IRAs you have, but there are still limits to what you can contribute.