Self Directed Retirement

Written by Johnny Kitchens
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It has never been easier to build a nest egg. Over the past few decades, there have been many changes that have increased the average person's power to save for retirement in the way that suits him or her best. Affordable trading companies have allowed more people to put money into the securities markets. The creation of the IRA and the Roth IRA have given retirement savings powerful tax advantages. And there are now more avenues for people with smaller accounts to get started.

Financial institutions and IRA custodians and administrators can still dictate, to some degree, the investment options that are open to their customers, but many people are now demanding more personal control. People are learning that boutique IRA advisors often offer a broader range of investment vehicles than most banks and mutual fund companies. Many such brokers and advisors offer self-directed IRAs to give the investor even more control.

A self-directed IRA is simply one in which you, the owner, are allowed to make the investment decisions that will guide your IRA. Having "checkbook control" over your IRA is especially beneficial if you hold real estate in your IRA. Real estate holdings often incur repair and maintenance costs and must be appraised regularly. All of these expenses must come out of the IRA and if you can write the checks yourself, it makes things much simpler.

Fees and Degrees of Self-Direction

Various IRA custodians and advisors offer self-directed accounts. Not all of them will offer checkbook control. Before deciding where to place your self-directed account, you should know how much control you will have, what fees will be connected to the account, and how easy it would be to move your account to another provider should you choose to do so. You should also be aware of the advisor's areas of expertise (like real estate, foreign stocks, and/or venture capital).


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