Finding the right Self Directed IRA custodian is just as important as picking the right IRA investment. You need to make sure that the IRA custodian is licensed and regulated and that your IRA funds will be protected.
To help you understand the IRA industry it’s important to understand some of the terminology related to Self Directed IRA accounts. Below are some common terms you hear related to IRA accounts:
A company who handles the paperwork required for your retirement account. They help in the formation of the account and maintenance. An administrator typically acts like a middleman between the retirement account owner and the bank/trust company where the deposits and assets are actually held.
Custodians hold the actual account assets and investments. They are usually a bank or trust company. They are approved and regulated by a state or federal agency such as the FDIC, their state's Banking Commissioner and sometimes the Controller of Currency. One thing to remember is that a custodian can be referred to as a "trust company".
Some IRA custodians have agreements between themselves and the administrator giving the administrator control and use over IRA clients assets. The problem with this arrangement is that the IRA custodian is giving up some of its control to another party. This is basically renting out the license and this has the potential to circumvent the oversight and regulations that are desgined to protect your account.
How do Accuplan Benefits Services and American Estate & Trust Differ From Other Adminstrators and Custodians?
- Accuplan Benefits Services functions as an Administrator. As an administrator Accuplan helps open up IRA accounts for clients and handles questions related to IRA accounts. Accuplan does not hold title or control any of the IRA funds or other assets. Accuplan serves as the expert on retirement accounts, and provides all fo the client support needed in order to keep the IRA account in good working order.
- All titling of assets and all IRA funds go direct to American Estate & Trust
- American Estate & Trust is subject to State oversight and annual audits
- American Estate & Trust is subject to an annual audit of its books and accounting practices by a licensed CPA firm
- American Estate & Trust maintains the licensing, the bonding, and cash reserves
- American Estate & Trust has all the records and documentation for all accounts and provides all of the state and federal reporting
Why is this difference so important? Administrators are not regulated in the same manner as Custodians. Their regulations pass to the Custodian they are administering for. It is the custodians job to make sure the administrators are doing everything properly.
American Estate & Trust (AET) is a licensed and regulated Trust company and is in control of all IRA clients assets. AET does not give that control to any administrator. Below are some reasons why your funds are protected through AET:
- AET is a licensed, bonded and regulated trust company under the state laws of Nevada
- AET is audited annually by the State of Nevada Division of Financial Institutions. Audits require proven financials along with proof of cash reserves.
- As a trust company, funds are 100% available unlike banks that are required to keep 3-5% of clients funds on-hand.
- AET maintains cash reserves per state law guidelines
- AET does not lend or leverage client deposits, nor does it offer checking accounts like a bank does. This insures that client funds are available and liquid. AET is regulated by the same laws as other banks and financial institutions.
- AET employees are bonded against theft and dishonesty
- AET's principals have undergone FBI background checks
- Wells Fargo is AET's bank and Wells has one of the best balance sheet of any major bank
- Accredited by the better business bureau: http://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/business-reviews/trustcompanies/american-estate-and-trust-in-las-vegas-nv-76630
Author: Ben Barker, Self Directed IRA Professional