Can I Be The Custodian Of My Own IRA

Wednesday, June 12th 2024

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are an increasingly popular investment vehicle in the US designed to assist Americans save for retirement tax-advantageously. There are various kinds of IRAs – Traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE. Each one comes with its own set of regulations; yet one thing all these accounts share is needing an administrator or custodian – prompting many to ask “Can I act as my own custodian of an IRA?” In this article we seek to investigate both concepts related to an IRA custodian as well as self-custodianship possibilities in depth.

Understanding IRA Custodians

An IRA custodian is defined as any financial institution or entity which holds, manages, and protects an IRA on behalf of its account owner. They are accountable for administering their account by processing transactions, managing tax reports, and upholding all rules set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Common forms of IRA custodianship include banks, trust companies, brokerage firms and other financial institutions approved to act under IRS rules as custodians. While acting as custodian might sound appealing, keep in mind the IRS has rigorous standards pertaining to who may act as custodian.

The Role of a Self-Directed IRA

Traditional IRA custodians generally provide account holders with predetermined investment choices such as mutual funds, stocks, bonds (1), and CDs (2); for those desiring more control of their investment decisions an Self-Directed IRA may provide greater freedom. SDIRAs enable account owners to invest in alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and precious metals among many other things.

Though SDIRAs provide greater control and flexibility when making investment decisions, they still require a custodian who acts like they would with traditional IRAs – with additional responsibilities of overseeing compliance with more stringent alternative investments’ rules.

Can You Be Your Own IRA Custodian?

No. The IRS mandates that all individual retirement accounts (IRAs) require an authorized custodian; as an individual cannot act as their own custodian and relatives or other related parties are ineligible as custodians for your IRA account, this rule helps safeguard against potential cases of fraud, self-dealing, and abuse that might otherwise arise if individuals were allowed to manage their retirement funds on their own.

However, this rule should not impede your control of IRA investments. As mentioned previously, Self-Directed IRAs provide account owners greater autonomy in making investment decisions provided they abide by IRS regulations. Although you will still require a custodian for management purposes, SDIRA owners have more say over investment decisions and overall management.

Selecting an Appropriate IRA Custodian

When selecting an IRA custodian, it is vital that you carefully consider several aspects. These could include:

The Alternatives: Checkbook Control and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs).

Even though you cannot act as your own IRA custodian, certain arrangements can give you greater control of your funds. One such technique is checkbook control. This involves setting up an LLC within your Self-Directed IRA in order to give yourself greater oversight.

Under this arrangement, your IRA funds are invested directly into an LLC managed by you as manager; as manager you have direct control of these investments allowing for faster investment decisions to be made without going through custodial services and the IRS rules must still be observed when making decisions relating to an IRA asset.

Checkbook control arrangements may provide investors with greater control and flexibility over their IRA investments, but also come with substantial responsibilities and risks that must be carefully considered before proceeding on this route. Any mistakes could potentially incur heavy fines while jeopardizing its tax-advantaged status; thus, it is highly advised that before starting down this path it be discussed with either your financial advisor or tax professional first.

The LLC should also be established in accordance with state laws, often necessitating the assistance of a lawyer for its formation. Furthermore some custodians do not allow making an LLC in an IRA so if this route appeals to you, then you should find one who does.


While technically you cannot act as your own IRA custodian, there are ways you can gain greater control of your retirement savings investments. Through Self-Directed IRA or checkbook control agreements you have more direct involvement with managing them; but with such power comes responsibility, so be aware of any rules, restrictions and risks when investing through such accounts – seek professional advice when necessary for best results.

Keep this in mind: the main objective of an IRA is to help secure a financially sound retirement, so when making investment decisions it should align with this aim and not let personal preferences overshadow fundamental principles such as diversification, patience, and risk mitigation.

Are you ready to take action?

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