Lists and Ranking of Self Directed IRA Custodians

1 Reply

Hi, 

I am considering setting up a Self Directed IRA and Checkbook LLC, in researching custodian companies I find there are not a lot of resources for those trying to evaluate different providers and get an idea of their longevity, assets under management, fee structure, etc.

Could we use this as a master thread in providing links to lists, rankings and regulator information for these type of providers? In my case I am looking for custodians that operate in California but that should not limit the scope of the thread.

Some other questions / qualifications for those answering:


(*) How long have you had a Self Directed IRA?

(*) What metrics / facts did you take into consideration when evaluating providers?

(*) What do you wish you had known when you first opened your Self Directed IRA?


Thanks a lot in advance for your input! 

Originally posted by @Ignacio De la Torre :

Hi, 

I am considering setting up a Self Directed IRA and Checkbook LLC, in researching custodian companies I find there are not a lot of resources for those trying to evaluate different providers and get an idea of their longevity, assets under management, fee structure, etc.

Could we use this as a master thread in providing links to lists, rankings and regulator information for these type of providers? In my case I am looking for custodians that operate in California but that should not limit the scope of the thread.

Some other questions / qualifications for those answering:

(*) How long have you had a Self Directed IRA?

(*) What metrics / facts did you take into consideration when evaluating providers?

(*) What do you wish you had known when you first opened your Self Directed IRA?

Thanks a lot in advance for your input! 

Here are some issues to consider in choosing an Self-directed IRA provider:

1. In order to have checkbook control, the IRA account will need to be at a trust company that will allow the IRA to invest in an LLC (where you will be the manager and your IRA will be member - an as manager you will have checkbook access to the LLC bank account). Therefore, you will want to confirm that the trust company allows for investing in an LLC and the associated fees and minimum balance that applies to the IRA account.

2. Confirm that the IRA LLC provider will prepare all of the documents needed to not only form the LLC (articles of organization, SS-4 to obtain an EIN) but also the documents needed by the trust company to process the investment of IRA funds in the LLC.

3. Confirm that the provider has experience with the particular investments in which you intend to invest your retirement funds as you very likely will have questions in terms of the mechanics (e.g. how do you invest in real estate, etc.).

4. Confirm that the provider has a pristine reputation (e.g. Better Business Bureau reviews, etc.).

5. In addition, if you are self-employed with no full-time employees you may wish to consider opening a Solo 401k instead of a self-directed IRA as it has several advantages over an IRA LLC such as much higher contribution limits, direct checkbook control (i.e. no need to have the account at a specialty trust company), ability to take a 401k loan, exclusion from unrelated debt finance income tax with respect to investment in real estate acquired with non-recourse financing, etc.

In addition, please note if you purchase debt-financed real estate with your IRA, unrelated debt finance income tax should apply to the income attributable to debt-financed real estate held by your IRA. Of course, you will want to review your specific situation with your tax advisor.