IRA Transfers: A Step-By-Step Guide

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It’s time— you’ve decided to open a self-directed IRA. You can almost picture the financial freedom and the retirement of your dreams. But to get started, you’ve got to make use of your old retirement account. How do you even begin? One of the most common ways to move your retirement account is known as a transfer. Not sure what that means for your retirement fund? Let us explain.

IRA Transfers: What Are They?

A transfer is where your retirement funds are moved directly from one custodian to another. You don’t see the money at all— it goes directly from your old plan to your new plan. This isn’t a taxable event and it isn’t reported to the IRS (unlike a rollover), so there’s no need to think about taxes. You can transfer your account as many times as you’d like, there is no limit on number of transfers per year.

The one thing to keep in mind when transferring retirement plans: there are restrictions on which plans can transfer into what account-type. For example, Roth IRAs can only transfer into other Roth IRAs— so make sure you’ve opened the right type of account before transferring your funds. If you’d like more details on what types of plans can transfer into what types of accounts, or have any other questions, you can find more resources at IRA transfers & 401K rollovers

At IRAR, we aim to make retirement easy, from start to finish. We keep the process straightforward and easy to follow. If at any point you’d like clarification, please reach out to us— a representative would be eager to help you.


Step-By-Step: Transfer to a Self-Directed IRA

To transfer your account to IRAR, you’ll first need to open an account. You’d do this by completing and submitting an account online. Here's what we need:

  • Open an account online 
  • Complete a Transfer Form
  • Provide us a copy of your most recent account statement from your current custodian

There is a $30 fee to accept funds via wire, otherwise there are no charges for processing a transfer request. The paperwork is the same whether you are transferring cash, other assets, or both. Once we have all the required paperwork, we’ll send the request to your current custodian. Please check with them to inquire if they accept fax or email copies of transfer requests before submitting.

Once we receive your completed Transfer Form, we will submit it to your current custodian and notify you of the transaction status. Sometimes, there may be a hold up with your previous custodian— they will require that you communicate directly with them. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to follow up to assure everything is processing smoothly— we cannot do this for you. But don't worry, we will notify you so you can reach out to them.


Relevant: Transfer - Rollover Guide


All-Cash Transfer Requests

If your account only holds cash, you’re done! Submit the completed forms with a recent statement to IRAR. Now all you’re waiting for is the funds to arrive.

If you hold assets in your current account and intend to transfer as cash, you will need to liquidate them before submitting your transfer request— otherwise your current custodian will reject the transfer and you will have to start the process again. This includes Brokerage IRAs, which will also need to be liquidated before transferring.

In-Kind Transfer Requests

If transferring assets in-kind from your previous custodian, your assets will need to be reregistered in the name of the new IRA (“IRAR Trust FBO: client name IRA, client account number”). For real estate and similar investments, this means the deed must be reregistered.

Some custodians require a Medallion Signature Guarantee when transferring your account. This is an authorized signature that guarantees securities. It’s used as an assurance from the transferring institution that the signature is genuine, to protect against forgery and fraud. Some providers have started asking for a medallion guarantee on transfers for assets that are not securities, and even cash— though this is not required and not technically how the medallion signature is intended to be used. IRAR doesn’t require these signatures, except on securities. A note to remember: A Notary Public is not the same as a Medallion Signature Guarantee and would not be an acceptable substitute.

After completing and submitting the paperwork, we wait for your current custodian to send the assets our way, where they will be deposited in your new IRAR account.

That’s it— once your funds arrive, you’re ready to invest!

Transferring your retirement account is the most common way to move your IRA to another IRA. It might sound like it’s going to be complicated, but it’s not— especially at IRAR. We keep the process simple.

The process has a few steps, but with our handy guide — you’ve got this. If you have any additional questions, please to reach out to a IRAR representative. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may be pondering. Happy Investing!


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