How Much Control Do American Pension Services Account Holders Have

IRA holders may have become aware of the events at American Pension Services, an IRA provider in Utah.  For the last several months, while legal proceedings have been underway, the accounts there have been “frozen”.   This has meant that American Pension Services account holders have not had the ability to move their IRAs to another provider.  Traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as HSAs, are typically completely portable and account holders can move all or part of their account at will.

Unfortunately, for American Pension Services account holders, this control has been temporarily suspended by the court.  The timetable is uncertain but the expectation is that they will eventually regain the ability to move their account.  Given the alleged malfeasance at American Pension Services, account holders may well be looking for a new IRA provider.

Here is a list of the top 5 due diligence questions to help choose a self directed IRA provider:

1.  How often do my account assets and cash get balanced?  A daily balancing of cash and assets makes the discovery of any anomalies more likely.  It can protect your account from fraud and mistakes.

2.  Who is the custodian and what is their expertise?  Not all custodians have the manpower and experience to properly service an IRA that contains alternative assets.  Due diligence on the custodian can be a key to keeping your retirement savings safe.  

Keep in mind that with some IRA providers, like New Direction, administration and custody are handled by separate companies. Your account may get more oversight and attention than with multiple levels of oversight and experience than with single entity providers acting as both administrator and custodian.

3.  What kind of account access do I have?  Reporting transparency is a characteristic that is part of many types of due diligence investigations.  Fast and accurate account access such as an online client access system that is updated daily gives you a tool to help you monitor your IRA. 

4.  Can I get a complete disclosure of fees?  Not all IRA providers have the same business model, particularly when it comes to how they make money.  Comparisons are not often “apples to apples”; so it is critical to get a full disclosure and to check for small fees that can add up.  Try these follow-up questions:  Do I have to pay for statements?  Do I get charged for each check my IRA sends out to pay a bill for one of my assets?  How much do you charge when I take a distribution?
5.  My self directed IRA strategy is _________________, how would that work with your business model?  Check to make sure the provider you are considering handles the asset types that you already have or may want to get into.  A single provider for all asset types, publicly traded and “alternative”, may save you a lot of time and energy over the years.

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