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Investor Insights Blog|Gold and Other Precious Metals in an IRA: Frequently Asked Questions

Precious Metals Investing

Gold and Other Precious Metals in an IRA: Frequently Asked Questions

gold bars

Planning for retirement can be challenging, particularly in times of unstable economic conditions and a volatile stock market. Traditional retirement portfolios consist of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Many people choose to diversify their retirement portfolios with investments in gold and other precious metals, which may help guard against high inflation and economic uncertainty.

Gold may be used to hedge against inflation. For the 20 years through June 30, 2019, gold outperformed the S&P 500, bonds, and oil, according to J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Gold and other metals can also offer liquidity within your account, meaning they can readily be converted into cash should the need arise.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) offer tax-deferred or tax-free growth, which means that investments made using an IRA may grow to be larger than similar investments made outside an IRA.

To invest with a “gold IRA” or invest in other precious metals in an IRA, certain requirements must be met. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about gold and other precious metals in an IRA.

Precious Metals in an IRA: What to Know

1. Why do people diversify their portfolios with precious metals?

Providing diversification and liquidity with no credit risk, gold can be especially attractive during periods of increased market volatility. Many investors choose to diversify retirement portfolios with alternative assets that are not correlated to the stock market.

2. Can I buy physical gold for my IRA?

You can buy gold coins and gold bullion bars, silver, palladium, and other precious metals that meet certain fineness requirements with your IRA.

3. What are the requirements for metals in a retirement account?

Metals must be produced by manufacturers accredited by NYMEX/COMEX, LME, BMA, NYSE/LIFFE/
CBOT, and ISO-9000, or a national mint to be held in a retirement account.

The minimum fineness requirement for bullion is:

  • Gold .995+
  • Silver .999+
  • Platinum .9995+
  • Palladium .9995+

Video: Precious Metals in an IRA

4. Can I keep my purchased metals at home?

Home storage is not permitted when your metals are held in an IRA. Your physical assets owned by an IRA must be held by a qualified custodian and stored in a secure, IRS-approved depository. Many depositories offer segregated or non-segregated storage. Segregated storage means that your personal metals are identified and stored under your name.

5. How do I find a precious metals investment for my self-directed IRA?

It’s easier than ever to locate a potential investment opportunity that suits you. Visit Investment District, our online marketplace, to browse investment options from precious metals, cryptocurrency, lending, private equity, and real estate asset providers.

6. What does the custodian do?

The IRS requires that any IRA be administered by a qualified custodian. Self-directed account custodians do not provide investment advice, but they do provide administrative and reporting services, and will purchase precious metals on your behalf per your direction through your IRA account.

For the 20 years through June 30, 2019, gold outperformed the S&P 500, bonds, and oil.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management

7. How do I begin the IRA process?

The first step is to open and fund your Self-Directed IRA account. This can be completed through a traditional paper application, but many people choose to use our simple application process that can be completed entirely online. Equity Trust can initiate the transfer of funds if you’re rolling over from an existing account. The timing of this process is dictated by the custodian currently holding the funds.

[Related: How to Invest in Gold and Other Precious Metals with an Equity Trust IRA]

8. What happens once my IRA has been funded?

After your account has been funded, you are ready to purchase precious metals within your IRA. After you choose a precious metals dealer or platform, instruct your custodian to purchase your desired coin or bullion products.

Precious Metals IRA 15-Minute Guide

9. How easily can I liquidate my precious metals?

You can at any time choose to retrieve your precious metals from the depository storage facility as a full or partial distribution. As with any early IRA distribution, taking physical possession with a full or partial distribution of your precious metals may result in taxes and penalties unless rolled over to another qualified custodian.

You may also choose to sell your metals back to an authorized dealer and the cash received would return to your IRA.

10. What kind of precious metals can I invest in?

Generally, you may purchase coins minted by the U.S. government as legal tender, such as American Gold Eagles and American Silver Eagles (1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz and ⅒ oz). It can also invest in certain platinum coins and certain gold, silver, palladium, and platinum bullion, per IRS Publication 590.

11. Can I have more than one IRA?

Yes. An investor may have multiple IRAs, but no matter how many you have, your total annual contribution limits remain the same.

12. Can I transfer money from an existing IRA or 401(k) account to fund another IRA without incurring any tax penalties?

Yes. If you have an existing IRA or 401(k), you may fund an IRA by transferring either the full or a partial amount. Because the funds are being directed into another tax-advantaged account there will be no tax penalties. Equity Trust will facilitate this process at your direction.

The current law allows for both transfers from IRAs as well as rollovers from qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k), 401(a), 403(b), 457, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and annuities.

13. Who is eligible for a Traditional IRA?

If you have earned income, you’re eligible for an IRA, including one that holds precious metals.

14. Are there penalties for moving my IRA or 401(k)?

No. An IRA rollover is a tax-free process with no fees or penalties, if done according to IRS guidelines. Funds received from an IRA are not subject to penalty or taxation as long as they are deposited into your new IRA account within 60 days.

15. In what form can I receive distributions?

You may receive distributions from your IRA in the form of physical gold, silver, platinum or palladium, depending on what metals are in your account. You may also convert your metals into cash.

16. When will I be eligible for distributions from my IRA?

At the age of 59½, the beneficiary of an IRA may begin receiving penalty-free distributions from their account.

Call us today to discuss investing in precious metals in an IRA: 888-382-4727.


How do I roll over funds to my self-directed IRA?

After you open your account with Equity Trust, you will contact your previous employer regarding the required paperwork to roll over an IRA. In most cases this will include account numbers and balances. If you do not have that information, an Equity Trust specialist can contact your previous employer or plan administrator while you are on the line. Then you will complete all paperwork received from the plan administrator and ask the plan administrator to transfer your retirement assets to your new Equity Trust IRA account number.

If the plan administrator for your previous employer’s plan requires Equity Trust to complete a portion of the distribution form, please mail it to Equity Trust Company along with the most current plan statement. Equity Trust will complete the required sections and mail the paperwork to the plan administrator.


How long do rollovers take?

The portion of the account rollover process that Equity Trust is responsible for takes approximately two to three business days. The amount of time expected for a direct rollover from a qualified plan is approximately seven to 60 days. The actual time will vary depending on the speed with which your qualified plan administrator responds to the transfer request.


How long do transfers take?

The portion of the account transfer process that Equity Trust is responsible for takes approximately two to three business days. Once the transfer form has been mailed, the speed of process is up to the transferring custodian. The entire process can range from a few days to upwards of two months. Generally speaking, transfers take the following amount of time:

  • Cash Transfers- No matter where funds are being transferred from, cash transfers take the shortest period of time, approximately one to four business days.
  • Transfer from a Brokerage Account- The amount of time expected for a brokerage account transfer is approximately 10 to 15 business days from the date paperwork is completed. The actual time will vary depending on the speed with which the brokerage firm responds to our request.
  • Transfer from a Mutual Fund- The amount of time expected for a mutual fund transfer is approximately 14 to 21 days after the paperwork is received. The actual time will vary, depending on the speed with which the mutual fund responds to the transfer request.

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