What Common Mistakes Can I Avoid When Setting up a Self-Directed IRA?

Do you want to take more control over your retirement investment accounts? Have you been considering a self-directed IRA but worried about the rules?

You want to diversify your portfolio – outside of the traditional investment markets such as stocks and bonds. That’s where a self-directed IRA comes into play. It allows you to diversify while also keeping control of your investments yourself.

However, you need to make sure to avoid some common mistakes and pitfalls that plague many investors.

Read on to make sure that you don’t fall into these common pitfall traps.

A self-directed IRA allows you to invest in alternative financial investments. These can include real estate, promissory notes, oil, and gas, tax lien certificates and more.

However, instead of being administered by a bank or brokerage you instead manage the fund yourself.

Take Control Yourself

You know you need to save your money for your retirement. But it can be daunting, to say the least when you are responsible for it yourself. 

When it comes to your retirement, the only person most invested in your success is yourself. Therefore, it stands to reason that you should be the one to make the final decisions regarding your investments. However, without the correct information, you can make some unfortunate mistakes in your choices

Take control of your financial future and get started with a self-directed IRA today. Contact a Quest IRA specialist and find out how we can help you take control of your retirement.

Avoid the Pitfalls of a Self-directed IRA

When you take control of your financial future with a self-directed IRA, you need to ensure to avoid these common pitfalls.

  1. Prohibited transactions – these can be tricky to navigate so it’s important to know the rules.
  2. Due diligence – As mentioned, the rules can be tricky, and it’s imperative that with a self-directed IRA you make the decisions yourself. Always ensure you do proper due diligence before getting into any investment.
  3. Lack of liquidity – with a self-directed IRA minimum distributions are required at 72, however, the alternative investments allowed can be hard to sell. This lack of liquidity can be a common pitfall if you find yourself in an emergency and can’t get your money out of your self-directed IRA.
  4. Lack of transparency – when it comes to your exit strategy for selling your alternative investments all parties involved must be in agreement. You also must be fully transparent as to the valuation of your investments. Without this full transparency, you can fall into another common pitfall of self-directed IRAs.
  5. Lack of diversity – as most successful investors will tell you: diversity is key to successful investment accounts. However, with self-directed IRA funds, sometimes investors forget to ensure that it is fully diversified.

With a self-directed IRA, you need a trustee or custodian that specializes in these non-traditional investments. However, remember one of the common mistakes with self-directed IRA funds is the self-directed IRA owner not performing proper due diligence on investments.

So this trustee is simply a custodian of your account, not your adviser. You need to work with a company that understands the IRA rules and you can trust.

Stay Educated and Stay out of Trouble

We set up self-directed IRAs to help you prepare for your retirement. The most prepared people for retirement are those that are best educated.Keep continuing your education so you can fully prepare for the best retirement possible. For answers to your questions, contact us today. We can help you open a Quest account to get you started.

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.

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.

How to Decide Between a Traditional Account or Roth Account For Your Self-Directed IRA

Self-Directed IRADeciding to open a self-directed IRA with a custodian such as Quest Trust Company is a prudent financial choice. With the expanded range of investment choices that you have with a self-directed IRA (as compared to an IRA with a traditional custodian or a 401(k) at work), you’ll have the greatest opportunity to invest in the precise asset types you desire.

But even after you’ve decided to open a self-directed account, you still have another choice to make – whether to form that account as a traditional IRA or as a Roth IRA.

It’s a bit of an oversimplification, but essentially you’re faced with a choice. You can choose to save taxes now, or potentially save much more money later.

With respect to traditional IRAs, many retirement savers are initially drawn to them because they can provide a current year tax deduction for the contributions you make, depending on your income level and whether you’re covered by a retirement plan at work.

For example, if you’re a single taxpayer and you are covered by an employer retirement plan, then you’ll have a full or partial deduction based on your contribution if your modified adjusted gross income is $71,000 or less. A married taxpayer will have a full or partial deduction if the couple’s modified adjusted gross income is $118,000 or less.

Single taxpayers who are not covered by a plan at work can take a full deduction regardless of their income, while a married taxpayer who isn’t covered by a plan, but whose spouse is, as available tax deduction if the couple’s modified adjusted gross income is $193,000 or less.

While the current year tax deduction might seem irresistible, it is important to weigh it against the value you could derive from a self-directed IRA that’s set up as a Roth account. Roth IRAs allow you to take distributions from your account during retirement on a completely tax-free basis. With a traditional IRA, all distributions are taxable. It can be hard to give up a financial benefit this year for one that you might not realize for several decades, but the difference can be significant, and many retirement savers choose Roth accounts precisely for this reason.

In addition, it’s important to take a look at what you would do with the funds you save from a current year tax deduction to a traditional self-directed IRA. For example, if you invest your tax savings wisely, particularly if it’s in an investment that doesn’t throw off dividends or income or otherwise create a new ongoing tax burden, then that’s a good thing. Similarly, if you use that additional current cash flow to help pay for your child’s college expenses so that you don’t have to take out any funds to do so, then that might be a good financial decision.

But if you instead use the money for entertainment or something else that doesn’t provide you or your family with any lasting economic value, then you may wish to reconsider the true value of that tax deduction, and make your contribution to a Roth self-directed IRA instead.

Possible Advantages Of Having More Than One Self-Directed IRA

You’ll often hear the financial advice that you can save time and money by rolling over your various IRAs and 401(k)s from previous employers into a single self-directed IRA. Doing so can help you better manage your retirement nest egg, potentially save on expenses, and provide you with the opportunity to invest in high-priced assets.

And there’s certainly a great deal of truth to that advice. It can often seem difficult to stay completely on top of a single retirement account, let alone multiple accounts.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t circumstances in which you can gain an advantage for yourself by having multiple self-directed IRAs. Let’s take a look at some of those potential advantages.

Better Management of Individual Assets

Because having a self-directed IRA with a custodian such as Quest Trust Company permits you to invest in unique individual assets such as real estate and private equity and debt instruments, there may be instances where you want to hold such assets in a separate account.

For example, if you own a multi-family apartment complex in a self-directed IRA, it might be easier to monitor or evaluate investment performance of that asset if there are no other holdings in the account. After all, consider how the income and expenses for this type of investment, as well as your management obligations, is likely to be significantly more complicated than holding a simple stock investment.

One Roth Self-Directed IRA and One Traditional Self-Directed IRA

Individuals who have variable levels of income from year to year, including those who frequently change jobs, may find themselves able to make deductible contributions to a traditional self-directed IRA in some years, while being ineligible to make such deductible contributions in other years.

These non-deductible contributions could certainly be made to the individual’s traditional self-directed IRA, but a better approach might be to set up a separate Roth self-directed IRA in order to receive those contributions. Because a Roth self-directed IRA has unique advantages over traditional accounts, you may wish to know of these advantages yourself while still having the potential to make deductible contributions to a traditional account.

Further Advantages of a Roth Self-Directed IRA

Having a separate Roth self-directed IRA as well as a traditional account can help you better achieve your various long-term financial goals better than simply having a single IRA. For example, a Roth self-directed IRA is not subject to the IRS rules on required minimum distributions, so if you have two accounts – one Roth account and one traditional cash account – you can use the traditional account to fund your living expenses once you reach retirement, while continuing to let your Roth account grow on a tax-free basis for as long as you choose.

Furthermore, Roth accounts provide a greater level of flexibility when it comes to estate planning, and some individuals use their Roth accounts as a quick and easy way to ensure their loved ones are taken care of after they pass.

Ultimately the decision of whether to have more than one self-directed IRA will depend on your particular financial situation. But many individuals have found that it can be quite valuable.

Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Directed IRAs

There is a lot of confusion over self-directed IRAs and what is and is not possible. In this article I will discuss some of the most important things you need to know about self-directed IRAs.

 

1) IRAs Can Purchase Almost Anything. A common misconception about IRAs is that purchasing anything other than CDs, stocks, mutual funds or annuities is illegal in an IRA. This is false. The only prohibitions contained in the Internal Revenue Code for IRAs are investments in life insurance contracts and in “collectibles.” Since there are so few restrictions contained in the law, almost anything else which can be documented can be purchased in your IRA. A “self­directed” IRA allows any investment not expressly prohibited by law. Common investment choices include real estate, both domestic and foreign, options, secured and unsecured notes, including first and second liens against real estate, C corporation stock, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, trusts and a whole lot more.

 

2) Seven Types of Accounts Can Be Self-Directed, Not Just Roth IRAs. There are seven different types of accounts which can be self-directed. They are the 1) Roth IRA, 2) the Traditional IRA, 3) the SEP IRA, 4) the SIMPLE IRA, 5) the Individual 401(k), including the Roth 401(k), 6) the Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA, formerly known as the Education IRA), and 7) the Health Savings Account (HSA). Not only can all of these accounts invest in non-traditional investments as indicated above, but they can be combined together to purchase a single investment.

 

3) Almost Anyone Can Have a Self-Directed Account of Some Type. Although there are income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA, having a retirement plan at work does not affect your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA, and there is no age limit either. With a Traditional IRA, the fact that you or your spouse has a retirement plan at work may affect the deductibility of your contribution, but anyone with earned income who is under age 70 1/2 can contribute to a Traditional IRA. There are no upper income limits for contributing to a Traditional IRA. A Traditional IRA can also receive funds from a prior employer’s 401(k) or other qualified plan. Additionally, you may be able to contribute to a Coverdell ESA for your children or grandchildren, nieces, nephews or even my children, if you are so inclined. If you have the right type of health insurance, called a High Deductible Health Plan, you can contribute to an HSA regardless of your income level. With an HSA, you may deduct your contributions to the acount and qualified distributions are tax free forever! All of this is in addition to any retirement plan you have at your job or for your self-employed business, including a SEP IRA, a SIMPLE IRA or a qualified plan such as a 401(k) plan or a 403(b) plan.

 

4) Even Small Balance Accounts Can Participate in Non-Traditional Investing. There are at least 4 ways you can participate in real estate investment even with a small IRA. First, you can wholesale property. You simply put the contract in the name of your IRA instead of your name. The earnest money comes from the IRA. When you assign the contract, the assignment fee goes back into your IRA. If using a Roth IRA, a Roth 401(k), an HSA, or a Coverdell ESA, this profit can be tax-free forever as long as you take the money out as a qualified distribution. Second, you can purchase an option on real estate, which then can be either exercised, assigned to a third party, or canceled for a fee. Third, you can purchase property in your IRA subject to existing financing or with a non-recourse loan from a bank, a hard money lender, a financial friend or a motivated seller. Profits from debt-financed property in your IRA may incur unrelated business income tax (UBIT), however. Finally, your IRA can be a partner with other IRA or non-IRA investors. For example, one recent hard money loan we funded had 10 different accounts participating. The smallest account to participate was for only $1,827.00!

 

5) Caution: There Are Restrictions on What You Can Do With Your IRA. Although as noted above in paragraph 1 the Internal Revenue Code lists very few investment restrictions, certain transactions (as opposed to investments) are considered to be prohibited. If your IRA enters into a prohibited transaction, there are severe consequences, so it is important to understand what constitutes a prohibited transaction. Essentially, the prohibited transaction rules were made to discourage certain persons, called disqualified persons, from dealing with the income and assets of the plan in a self-dealing manner. As a result, disqualified persons are prohibited from directly or indirectly entering into or benefiting from your IRA’s investments. The assets of a plan are to be invested in a manner which benefits the plan itself and not the IRA owner (other than as a beneficiary of the IRA) or any other disqualified person. Investment transactions are supposed to be on an arms-length basis. Disqualified persons to your IRA include, among others, yourself, your spouse, your parents and other lineal ascendants, your kids and other lineal descendants and their spouses, and any corporation, partnership trust or estate which is owned or controlled by any combination of these persons. It is essential when choosing a custodian or administrator that the company you choose is very knowledgeable in this area. Even though no self-directed IRA custodian or administrator will give you tax, legal or investment advice, the education they provide will be critical to your success as a self-directed IRA investor.

 

6) Some IRA Investments May Cause Your IRA to Owe Taxes – But That May Be Okay. Normally an IRA’s income and profits are exempt from taxation until a distribution is taken (or not at all, if it is a qualifying distribution from a Roth IRA). However, there are three circumstances when an IRA may owe tax on its profits. First, if the IRA is engaged in an unrelated trade or business, either directly or indirectly through a non-taxable entity such as an LLC or a limited partnership, the IRA will owe tax on its share of Unrelated Business Income (UBI). Second, the IRA will owe taxes if it has rental income from personal property, such as a mobile home not treated as real estate under state law (but rents from real property are exempt from tax if the property is debt-free). Finally, if the IRA owns, either directly or indirectly, property subject to debt, it will owe tax only on the portion of its income derived from the debt, which is sometimes referred to as Unrelated Debt Financed Income (UDFI). This may sound like something you never would want to do, but a more careful analysis may lead you to the conclusion that paying tax now in your IRA may be the way to financial freedom in your retirement. For example, one client made a net gain of over 1,000% in less than four months after her IRA paid this tax. This is definitely a topic you will want to learn more about, but it is not something you should shut your mind to before investigating whether the after tax returns on your investment would exceed the return you might otherwise be able to achieve in your IRA.

 

7) An Inherited Roth IRA Can Give You Tax Free Income Now No Matter What Your Age. Many people know that a qualified distribution from a Roth IRA is tax free. To make the distribution qualify as tax free, it must be distributed after the IRA owner has had a Roth IRA for at least 5 tax years and after one of four events occurs – 1) the IRA owner is over age 59 ½, 2) the IRA owner becomes disabled, 3) the IRA owner dies and the distribution is to his or her beneficiary, or 4) the distribution is for a first-time home purchase, either for the IRA owner or certain close family members. Although the neither the original Roth IRA owner nor his or her spouse has to take a distribution (assuming the spouse elects to treat the IRA as their own), non-spouse beneficiaries of a Roth IRA do have to take distributions, normally over their expected lifetimes. However, once the five year test is met, those distributions are tax free, regardless of the age of the IRA beneficiary! Even a $100,000 Roth IRA left to a 6 year old beneficiary may generate as much as $80,496,367 in lifetime tax free distributions if the IRA can sustain a yield of 12%, which is very possible with a self-directed IRA.

 

8) 2010 Brings an Incredible Gift From Your Government. Most people who understand the benefits of a Roth IRA really want one, but many people have not been able to qualify for this incredible wealth building tool because of income limitations which restrict the eligibility of a person to contribute to a Roth IRA or to convert pre-tax accounts like Traditional IRAs into a Roth IRA. In 2010 the rules for conversions will change so that anyone, regardless of income level, will be eligible to do a Roth conversion. Beginning in 2010 anyone who has a Traditional IRA (including a SEP IRA), a SIMPLE IRA which has been in existence for at least two years, or a former employer retirement plan such as a 401(k) or a 403(b) can convert those into a Roth IRA and can then begin to create tax free wealth for their retirement. Even if you do not currently have an IRA but are eligible to contribute to a Traditional IRA, the contribution can be made and immediately converted into a Roth IRA. This truly is one of the most exciting tax planning opportunities to come along in a very long time!

 

9) There Are Millions of Dollars Available to Finance Your Real Estate Deals Right Now. We are in a very exciting time for wise real estate investors. There are a lot of super real estate bargains out there right now, but it can be very difficult for investors to get financing – unless they know the secret of private financing. There are billions of dollars of lazy IRA money sitting on the sidelines waiting for the right investment, because many people are very afraid of the stock market. Included among the many things people can invest in with a self-directed IRA are real estate secured loans or even unsecured loans. Shakespeare wrote in his play Hamlet, “Neither a lender nor a borrower be, for a loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” I believe Shakespeare was wrong, but he might be forgiven since he did not have the advantage of knowing about self-directed IRAs. You can benefit from your knowledge of self-directed IRAs either by having your IRA be a private lender or by borrowing OPI – Other People’s IRAs – for your real estate transactions. Networking is the key to success in the area of private lending or borrowing, but there are things you must know to do it properly.

 

10) Use Options to Dramatically Boost Your Small IRA. Options are one of the most powerful and under-utilized tools in real estate investing today, and they work beautifully within a self-directed IRA. The consideration for the option and the property being optioned can be almost anything, not just real estate. Once an IRA owns an option, it can 1) let the option lapse (which at times is the right answer), 2) exercise the option and acquire the property, 3) assign the option for a fee (assuming the option agreement allows for assignment) or 4) agree to cancel the option for a fee with the property owner, thereby getting paid not to buy the property! Options are very flexible and can be designed to fit almost any situation. One client paid $5,000 from his Roth IRA for an option which he later canceled for a fee of over $35,000. Then he took that money, bought a property at a foreclosure auction for cash, and later sold the property for $70,000 with $5,000 down and a $65,000 seller-financed note. By using the option he was able to take his $5,000 Roth IRA and turn it into a $70,000 Roth in less than a year!

 

Truthfully there are many more things that you should know about self-directed IRAs. To learn more, attend one or more of Quest Trust Company’s many free networking and educational events. You can get the entire schedule of events in addition to playing pre­recorded webinars by going to our website at www.QuestIRA.com. Happy investing!

 

H. Quincy Long is an attorney who holds the designation of Certified IRA Services Professional (CISP) and is President of Quest Trust Company, Inc., a third party administrator of self-directed IRAs with offices in Houston and Dallas, TX and Mason, MI. He may be reached by email at Quincy@QuestTrust.com. Nothing in this article is intended as tax, legal or investment advice. © Copyright 2009 H. Quincy Long. All rights reserved.