For thousands of years, gold has been a reliable store of value in times of economic uncertainty and chaos. While the price fluctuates, gold has outlasted entire civilizations. Currencies rise and fall and become worthless. But gold continues to retain its purchasing power.
So it makes good sense to allocate a portion of retirement savings to gold and precious metals. Gold provides a valuable diversification benefit, and tends to outperform other asset classes in times of crisis, and when there are inflationary pressures that weigh on the dollar’s purchasing value.
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Gold Backed IRA
For most people, the quickest and easiest way to rapidly diversify their retirement portfolios into physical gold and silver is to execute a gold IRA rollover. In other words, roll over existing IRA, 401(k), or other retirement assets into a self-directed IRA with a company set up to hold physical gold and other precious metals on your IRA's behalf.
NOTE: The term "Gold IRA" doesn't mean you can't own other assets in the IRA as well. It's just another self-directed IRA account. So, in addition to gold, you can also own other precious metals, including approved silver, platinum, and palladium bullion coins, bars, and rounds from national or NYMEX or COMEX-certified mints. You can also hold any other IRA-approved assets in the account you like. All precious metal investments must be bullion bars, rounds, or coins of sufficient purity. That rules out numismatics and products made primarily for collectors' value.
Additionally, you can own any other asset within your self-directed IRA that is not explicitly prohibited under IRC Section 408(m).
That excludes collectibles, jewelry and gemstones, alcoholic beverages, S-corporation shares, and life insurance.
CAUTION: You cannot take personal, physical possession of gold or other assets within your IRA. When it comes to gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion coins, rounds, and bars authorized for IRA accounts, you must have your IRA administrator or custodian have a third-party vault and storage company store these assets for your IRA.
If you take personal possession of your gold or other precious metals owned by your IRA account, you will violate prohibited transaction laws. If the IRS finds out, they may disallow your entire IRA account, forcing you to incur immediate income tax liability and penalties.
You can hold gold and other precious metals in your own personal safe, as long as it is owned in your own name and not in your IRA or other self-directed retirement account.
The cash for your new gold IRA rollover can come from any of these eligible tax-advantaged accounts.
- Traditional IRAs
- Roth IRAs
- SEP IRAs
- SIMPLE IRAs
- Eligible 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s and federal Thrift Savings Plans, and more.
If the funds are coming from a Roth IRA, your new gold IRA account, you should set up your new account as a Roth IRA. That way, you preserve the Roth IRA's tax benefits, including tax-free growth for as long as you live – provided the assets have remained in a Roth account for at least five years.
How to Execute a Rollover Into a Gold IRA
Identify a self-directed IRA custodian or third-party administrator.
The first step is to find a self-directed IRA vendor to act as the IRA administrator or custodian. This company will record all your IRA transactions, provide documentation and services to you and to the IRS, and facilitate gold and precious metals purchases and sales on your behalf.
Not every investment company is set up to allow you to hold physical gold and other precious metals within their IRA accounts. Many Wall Street firms won't allow it. Wall Street wants you to buy stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and money markets. That is, securities. But securities by themselves don't provide enough diversification against market crashes, interest rate fluctuations, and inflation.
Make sure you are dealing with a vendor specifically set up to allow “self-directed” IRAs.
The term self-directed indicates that you are taking personal control of the assets within your IRA, and not relying on the services of a mutual fund manager or broker-dealer to manage the money within your IRA on your behalf.
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2.) Open an account.
Once you’ve identified a self-directed IRA vendor you like, the next step is to open an account. They will send you the forms, and you can normally execute these forms online.
Often, you will need to pay a one-time account set-up fee of $50 to $300. This is normal. Over time, the ongoing fee structure is usually a much more important factor than the setup fee.
3.) Execute the gold IRA rollover.
It’s possible to roll IRA funds into your new gold IRA by simply withdrawing your money in cash, and then depositing it into your new IRA yourself. You can do this up to once per year. The law gives you up to 60 days from your withdrawal to execute this transfer.
However, if you get sidetracked or you forget to complete the transfer, the IRS will deem the transaction to have been a distribution. You’ll have to pay income tax on the transaction, as well as an additional 10% excise tax if you are younger than age 59½ (age 55 if the withdrawal is from a 401(k) and you have retired or otherwise left service with the company).
Gold IRA rollover guide - diversify your #401k with physical precious metals
Also, if you're taking cash out from a 401(k), note that the 401(k) administrator will automatically withhold 20% of the transaction and forward it to the IRS. However, you are still responsible for depositing the full amount of the withdrawal in your new IRA by the end of the 60-day deadline. So that 20% will have to come from other savings.
Unless you have a specific reason why you want to have the money in hand for up to 60 days, the safer option is to do a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer between your old account and your new gold IRA. This eliminates the 20% withholding requirement from 401(k)s, and removes the risk that you'll miss the 60-day deadline and pay taxes and penalties on the distribution.
To do this, notify your existing investment company that you want to do a direct rollover or trustee to trustee transfer to your new account. You can normally do so online. However, you’ll need your new gold IRA’s account number to complete the transaction, which is why you have to set up your new account first before trying to do a trustee-to-trustee transfer.
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4.) Purchase your gold.
Once the trustee-to-trustee transfer is complete, you should have cash in your new gold IRA account. To convert that cash to gold, you should find a reputable gold broker, decide what specific gold or precious metal bullion products you want to own, and get a current purchase price. Then contact your gold IRA administrator or vendor and direct them in writing where to purchase your gold, and at what price.
Your gold IRA administrator will do the rest. At no point should the gold pass through your hands or your direct control, personally. The gold broker or vendor you select should deposit the metals directly into your account at the depository or third-party vault company.
Gold IRA Rollover Reviews
If you're worried about a retirement plan heavily invested in stocks, it might make sense to diversify with a gold IRA rollover. Before getting started, make sure to contact at least two to three gold dealers that understands the gold IRA rollover process. Many of the top precious metals IRA firms offer free informational guides, investor kits, and other resources to help guide you on your journey.
A gold IRA specialist can 'hold your hand' through selecting a gold IRA custodian, setting up your IRA vault storage, and even advise in selecting IRA-approved metals. One wrong move in the process could potentially trigger a taxable event with the IRS. Do your research to ensure you're making the right moves for your finances.