Archive for March, 2014

The Accuplan and AET Difference

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Bill Pay

Today there are so many different self directed IRA and 401k companies out there that it can be very hard to decide which company to set up your self directed account with. We strive to make the decision easier each day.

Part of how we strive to stand out is through great customer service and very competitive fees but we also strive to make the experience for you as a customer better than any currently available.

We have recently been looking for a great way to make your experience better and are excited to announce a revolutionary new feature for our clients.

We have launched our Online Bill pay feature for account holders. This new feature will make it easier for you to pay the bills that need to be paid through your self directed account.  This feature will allow you to login and pay bills associated with your account. The great thing about Bill pay is that it will allow you to get routine bills paid within 24 hours without having to submit a DOI (Direction of Investment) form.

How do you set up bill pay?

All first time bills must be submitted to AET via the current DOI process. This has to be done to insure that the bills are appropriate and relevant to the account. Upon funding of the DOI, The DOI will be converted to a bill. When the same bill need to be paid again, the account holder is able to login to their account and select "Make A Payment", input the amount, confirm and submit their payment under the Bill Pay menu.

This is a brief explanation of our great online Bill Pay feature and we hope that it helps ease process of paying bills through your self directed account. For more info check out our Bill Pay page, in-depth self directed Bill Pay information.


Precious Metals IRA and Gold IRA Investing Pt. 2

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Q & A pt. 2

As we mentioned last week a precious metals IRA or gold IRA can be a great alternative to the typical investments in a retirement account. Through a precious metals IRA or gold IRA which is more commonly reffered to as a self directed IRA you can invest your IRA into alternative investments that many don't know about. The most popular investments inside a self directed IRA are real estate, gold, silver or other approved precious metals and even private placements. There are many options available to those wanting to invest in something other than stocks and bonds with their IRA or 401k.  Below is part two of some of the most common questions I get asked when setting up a gold IRA or precious metals IRA, again usually refered to as a self directed IRA. Check out part one of Precious Metals IRA and Gold IRA Investing

Q.  What role does the vault play in the relationship?

A.  The vault is where we store all of our metals for our IRA clients.  The vault plays a very important role in the relationship between our clients and their metals.  They are responsible for insuring and securing all of our metals.  They also receive all of our clients metals, confirm the validity of the metals, track and catalog all of our clients metals
Currently our clients have locations available to store their metals.  Once is with Brinks in Salt Lake City Utah.  The other is with the Delaware Depository in Delaware.

Q.  What type of assurances/ titles will I receive from the custodian or vault?

A.  When a client purchase metals inside their IRA those metals are shipped directly to the vault location of their choice.  That vault confirms the metals are legitimate and then reports to us, via email, that the metals have arrived.  As soon as the metals arrive the client receives an email with a certificate on how much metals they have bought, the type of metal, and the location of the metal.  The client also has the ability to go online to view all the metals that they have purchased

Q.  Are storage costs based on value or ounce amount?

A.  The storage fee is based on the value of the metals.  Below is fee for storage fees:

Monthly Storage of Metals Fee

Asset Value of Metals    Gold Only    Silver Only    Both Metals
< $25,000    $8    $10    $10
≥ $25,000    $12    $18    $18

Q.  What type of disclosures are required when it comes to IRS reporting?

A.  Each year the IRA custodian is required to send the IRS a document called a 5498 form.  It looks similar to a 1099.  The information that is provided to the IRS is the following:

•    Clients personal information (name, address, SSN)
•    Contributions to the IRA
•    Rollover Contributions
•    Roth IRA Conversions
•    Fair Market Value

The IRS does not require that we catalog all of the assets inside the IRA just the current value as of the end of the year.

Q.  With regard to reporting and disclosures, are self-directed IRAs more private?

A.  A self directed IRA is not any more private that an IRA with Fidelity or Schwab but all IRA in general are very private.  My last answer explained that the IRS does not require us to report the assets inside the IRA, just the current value.  As a result the IRS is unaware of what you have purchased inside your IRA.  This keep your IRA very private from the outside world.

Hopefully some of these questions and answers have helped to shed the light on precious metals and gold IRAs. If you are interested in opening your own gold IRA feel free to contact us as we can help you invest in gold or other precious metals with your IRA or 401k.

Author: , Self Directed IRA Professional
[email protected]

Get The Most Out of Your Real Estate IRA Investment

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Having an investment property can be a great addition to any retirement portfolio. With a real estate IRA or any real estate for that matter there are some things that you can do to get to keep the value of your home as high as possible. You may have thought that keeping up with the Jones' was just a waist of money but you may actually could be hurting the value of your home if you aren't staying up to speed with your neighbors. Yes you can go overboard and you may not be able to recoup the upgrades in the sale of your investment property.

You don't have to break the bank or spend ridiculous amounts of money in order to make your investment property more attractive when you are getting ready to sell it.

Depending on the age of your investment property these fairly simple upgrades can cost less than $5,000.00. The following tips come from an article by CNN Money. Check it out for the whole story.

Open The Kitchen

Kitchens serve a different purpose today than they did in the past. The past said that the kitchen was solely for cooking. Today the kitchen serves a much bigger role. It is a favorite spot for families and their guests to congregate. Many older homes have kitchens that are just too small and cramped. Many times kitchens have a dinning room next to them that is separated by a wall. Removing the wall between the dining room or other living area is the best way to open up the space. As long as pipes and structural support doesn't change you are likely to pay lower than $5,000.00. If budget calls for it sprucing up the countertops and appliances can be a great selling point.

Put The Laundry Close to Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Today buyers aren't keen on the idea of having their laundry room stashed away in the basement. Having a washer and dryer on the floor closest to the bedrooms and bathrooms is gaining in popularity. The best way to accomplish this is if you have a big enough unused closet in a hall near your bedrooms. If that doesn't work then do you have an unused bedroom? If so, you can remodel that bedroom to create a half laundry and half walk-in closet. Look at your options because finding a way to make this work can potentially be a great addition that will pay when you sale your property.

Upgrade Your Closets

If your home is older than 30 years older you more than likely have a big frustrating problem, no storage space. Typically closets are small with only one rod to hold clothes. The truth is, new buyers want bigger closets with more storage options. There are plenty of ways you can get more storage into a home. My thought is if you can upgrade your room closets then go for it. Second look to add closets to bathrooms or other areas that could really use the storage. You can't really ever have too much storage possibilities.

One great thing to do when thinking about upgrading any of these suggestions is to look at the homes around your investment property. It can be hard at times but you need to look at your investment property as non biased as possible. It can be even harder if you have any sentimental feelings in your investment property. Looking at the other homes around your investment property is a great idea because you can see if your home is staying up with the times. Does your home have the same, less or more storage? Is the kitchen more open than most of the homes in your area or is it more cramped? Once you have figured out these type of questions you will know where to spend more of your budget and where to hold off. The last thing that you will want to do is upgrade something that is typically much better than the other homes in your area. Those types of upgrades won't pay off as much because you are already above the competition. Focus on the things that will make your home at least as good as the competition.

There are so many different things you can do to get the most out of your real estate IRA investment. Getting as much information and staying up on the trends can be a big help to make sure your real estate IRA investment is worth as much as possible.

If you need more information as to how to invest in real estate with your IRA or just need help setting up a real estate IRA contact us. We are here to help you invest in the things you want with your IRA.


Don’t Be Fooled By Storing Your IRA Metals Offshore

Monday, March 24th, 2014

We routinely get asked about storing metals for your IRA offshore. Our position is no, we store them here in the U.S. under our direct control.

We have a number of clients that report that other IRA administrators and metals vendors peddle a service whereby you can store your metals in Canada or Switzerland. This seems to run counter to our collective understanding of the IRA rules for self-directed IRAs and fails to really serve a useful purpose.

Let’s break this theory down into its components.

1. Argument – Gold and Silver Eagles are currency, and you can hold currency anywhere:

The promoters hold that Gold and Silver Eagles are US currency. We buy into that argument in that this was the original purpose of minting the coins. However, if this were the case, then your IRA would just hold good old greenbacks in the account versus the actual coins. You would save all those fees, and storage costs and general hassle. But, people prefer to hold the metals for its intrinsic, numismatic value – not its ability to go buy $20 worth of hamburgers and fries in the drive through. In fact, no reasonable person does this. The coins are clearly held for their underlying market value and as a hedge against inflation. They are not being held for their face value so that they can purchase junk food during retirement.

Because of this fundamental difference, we believe that Gold and Silver Eagles are viewed and would be deemed as nothing more than a precious metal and not currency if an IRS audit were performed on any of these promoters of offshore storage. This means that the metals cannot be stored offshore.

2. Argument – Storing these metals offshore will protect you from government confiscation:

Offshore storage promoters contend that if and when the government decides to crack down on metals and confiscate them, any metals held in the IRA offshore will be protected. Well, let me be the pessimist and realist.

In order for metals to be held in an IRA, they must be held by and under the control of the Trustee/Custodian. If these promoters subscribe to this, which they have to in order to be compliant, then the metals are held and owned by the custodian. If that is the case, then some reasonable smart person at the Treasury will merely send a one paragraph letter to the custodian telling them to redeem all metals held in their possession for US currency.

Since most people don’t want to wear orange jumpsuits, the custodian is likely to willingly comply. That custodian will draw back all metals, onshore and offshore, and turn them over and credit the client accounts with cash. It’s just that simple.

Look, if I can think of this, I guarantee the brain trust at the Treasury will figure this out in about five minutes. So, it’s not like I am giving them a road map. Say what we will about the government and the Treasury, they can and will easily figure this problem out very quickly.

In case you want to argue that they are not the custodian’s metals, then you run the risk of violating IRC 408 and forcing a disqualification of your account at the point you purchased the metals. This will trigger taxes and penalties, plus you will personally be required to comply with any confiscation orders. This is an even worse scenario.

What does all this mean?

It’s our opinion that there are some specific IRA administrators and metals vendors who are misleading people to invest their IRAs into metals and store them offshore. Such advice seems risky and dangerous given that there are no bright lines or legal support for being able to store these metals offshore. Additionally, we believe it’s misleading to tell clients that their metals will be safe from government confiscation if the metals are held offshore.

Accuplan and American Estate & Trust recommend that you check your IRA provider or metals provider in advance. Question their legal basis for recommending that you can move your account offshore. Seek the advice of legal counsel if necessary. From a corporate policy perspective, this is an area that has not been tested with the IRS, there is no legal authority supporting it, and there is some legal authority showing that you cannot store metals offshore. So, we do not advocate or recommend this practice.

Does this mean that we are anti-metals? Hell No! We strongly encourage and support the business of precious metals and holding metals in your IRA account. What we don’t support is some half-baked, ham-handed, amateur legal analysis that is not fully supported by fact or legal opinion. We think people are being less than honest in their representations and promotions of metals storage options. If the competition counterclaims that we are just protecting our turf because we don’t have offshore storage, then they really make my case. So, they think that it requires a Ph.D. in splitting the atom to figure out how to call an offshore storage facility. The short answer is it’s pretty straight forward on setting up offshore storage and people do it every day. We choose not to do this for legal and safety reasons.

What you should do

  • Ask you offshore promoter what their legal support and authority is for moving your IRA offshore
  • Contact a legal advisor for a second, confirming opinion as to the claims and representations.
  • Look at the real value add and safety aspect. Will your tax law based retirement plan really be removed from any government confiscation actions?
  • Weigh the facts and costs and risk.
  • Just ask yourself how much risk are you willing to take without any legal support or backing when storing your metals 1000s of miles away.

What Is Your 401k Invested In?

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Do you have a 401k? If so, do you know what it is invested in? The standard investments inside of a 401k are stocks and bonds. Most likely you are invested in variation of stocks and bonds. Regardless of what you are invested in you should know what those investments are because you may come to find out that you are invested in some more risky options that you otherwise might not want to be invested in. One thing you may come to find out or may already know is that you are invested in your own companies stock. 

Only 12% of plans make matching contributions using company shares which is down 45% from 2001. Even though this number is down there are still many plans that let workers invest in employer share as an option. Those that have the option for company stock it typically represents around 14% of employees' portfolios. 

While 14% of a portfolio is nothing to be too worried about there is still a higher risk in holding company stock inside a 401k. The following are a few suggestions if you are investing in company stock with your 401k:

There are so many different investment opportunities available to retirement accounts and being able to take advantage of them can greatly improve your retirement and retirement portolio. 

If you are interested in a self directed 401k talk with your employer to see if this is something available to you. Feel free to contact us for any more information as well as help setting up a self directed 401k.