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How to Execute a 401(k) to Gold IRA Rollover
A 401(k) is a retirement account that is meant to use the stock market to invest your funds in hopes that they will grow as the stock market grows too. This is a great way to increase your investment and is one of the most popular ways people are saving money for the future.
However, though popular, having a standard 401(k) does come with some risks. As the stock market rises and falls so too does the money endowed into it.
You could invest $100 in stocks one day and due to the fluctuation of the market may find you only have $50 in the account the next day. Also, as we have seen in the past when the market becomes unstable and the market takes a deep plunge, so too will your money with no way to recuperate what was lost until the market restores itself.
This knowledge may cause a person to pull what money they have from their 401(k) for fear of instability, but there is an alternate form of investment that could give you better security.
Most people are not aware of this as it is typically something reserved for those who are more financially savvy and spend their time learning the ins and outs of the stock market.
Yet, here we will discuss with you how to take your hard-earned money and turn it into a concrete investment in the one currency that is truly universal: Gold.
What is a Gold-Backed IRA?
A Gold IRA is a type of individual retirement account (IRA) that allows its owner to invest their funds in gold as a form of qualified retirement investment.
Though it is titled a “Gold IRA”, the precious metals available for this kind of account range from platinum, palladium, gold, or silver. Whatever kind of metal you choose to invest in, these metals come from national, NYMEX or COMEX certified mints where they have been processed for purification and have been verified to meet the standards of the metal trade.
These investments are physical metals in the forms of coins, rounds, or bullions, which are bars or ingots of pure precious metals that have been assessed and are officially recognized as being 99.5% to 99.9% pure by the governments and central banks.
A Gold IRA is not kept in a traditional retirement account as it does involve physical investments as opposed to the digital bookkeeping that is used for funds invested in the stock market.
There are also more rules on the management of the account and how the physical pieces are to be maintained to keep their integrity intact.
The previous metals must be kept in a safe place with a custodian who will oversee their care. There must also be a broker involved to obtain the metals and to have them transferred between buyer and seller.
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Advantages and Disadvantages of a Gold-Backed IRA
The biggest advantage to having a Gold IRA account instead of a standard 401(k) can be summarized by a single word: Control.
You can invest the money in your IRA in any way you wish. You can choose to invest the money in gold, or you can choose to use platinum.
Make sure to research the different forms of precious metals that are available and pick which one you think will yield the greater results.
You also will have control over fees as most major brokers are now charging no fees for trading your money into an IRA. If you choose to use an automated advisor to manage your portfolio, there is a tendency to have a small percentage fee for each transaction, but that can usually be reduced.
Another major perk is having better access to your money. It is advised that you don’t take money from a retirement plan earlier than need be, but it is easier to get funds from an IRA than it is from an employer-sponsored plan.
With the advantages come the disadvantages of having a Gold IRA. Retirement savings plans try very hard to discourage their contributors from withdrawing money before you reach 59 ½.
The typical rate for doing this is a 10% penalty. When it comes to 401(k) plans, these can be waived on early withdrawals that are taken out as early as 55 years old, but this exemption is not available for IRAs.
Another disadvantage is the inability to convert the account from a previous employer to a new one. Most 401(k) plans that are created by employers for their staff can be sent to another employer should an employee move to a new company. However, IRAs are not as flexible.
The biggest disadvantage is the trouble that can be caused by moving your funds from a 401(k) to a Gold IRA if you have not educated yourself on how to do so without getting penalized.
More Benefits of Rolling Over Your 401(k) Into a Gold IRA:
How to Execute a Rollover into a Gold IRA
After all the research, you still want to convert your money from your 401(k) to a Gold IRA. There are several steps that you must take to achieve your goal.
First, you will need to choose a self-directed IRA custodian to oversee the account.
Then, you will need to open an account so that the precious metals can be purchased and maintained in a regulated area. Next, you will have to process the rollover of the funds so that the broker and custodian can acquire the metals on your behalf.
The process may seem cumbersome, but here is a breakdown of each step and how to ensure you get the best results at the end:
1. Identify Your Self Directed IRA Custodian
The first thing you need to do is figure out the person who will be the administrator or custodian of the Gold IRA. It is actually illegal for a person to keep the gold themselves.
This is typically a company that will keep records of all transactions and provides documentation and services that are for you and the IRS.
Their job is to orchestrate the buying and selling of the precious metals that you choose to invest in and perform all these transactions on behalf of the account owner.
Many investment companies are not able to hold physical investments with their IRA accounts. They are mostly Wall Street firms, which want you to invest your money in stocks and bonds to help add to the money market.
When you choose to open a Gold IRA account, make sure that the firm you are choosing to invest with is specifically set up to allow a “self-directed” IRA.
This indicates that the account owner is taking personal control of their assets within the IRA and are not relying on the services of the company.
2. Open Your Account
Now that you know who is going to manage the account, you need to open it for them to begin their work. The custodian will need to reach out to a metal broker or metal dealer to help with the purchasing and selling of the gold or other precious metals that you choose to invest in.
Once they have located the items, they will work with the custodian to broker the deal and get the items transferred to where the custodian will assign them to be kept.
Then, the amount will be recorded, and the documentation is sent to the account owner and the IRS for their records.
You can open a Gold IRA with any amount of money. No minimum has to be used to create it, but most companies require that you at the bare minimum invest enough to purchase a complete unit of the precious metal to avoid having to have the metal melted down and transformed into smaller amounts.
Anytime this is performed, there is a risk of the metal being damaged or losing its “purified” status. When you choose to invest, make sure to have the full amount to add better security to your investment.
3. Execute the Rollover
The next thing you need to do is figure out how you will roll over the money. There are two different ways to do it: direct and indirect.
A direct rollover describes moving the money by directly transferring from the account to the IRA trustee.
This takes a lot of the paperwork and legal matters out of the hands of the person who is opening the account as the receiving company will help with setting everything up.
Indirect rollovers are more complicated as the funds of the 401(k) are given directly to the owner of the account with the intention of them transferring them into a Gold IRA.
There will be more paperwork on the part of the account owner to prove that this was done, and that can make using the direct rollover method more appealing.
What to Avoid to Not Be Penalized:
According to the IRS, you have 60 days to complete the transfer. If not, then the funds will be considered a “distribution of funds” from the 401(k) and be liable to any taxes of such a transfer. Doing so will ensure you successfully move your 401(k) to a gold IRA without penalty.
4. Purchase Gold
The money that you use to fund your Gold IRA can come from several sources.
You can withdraw funds from a Traditional IRA, ROTH IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, and a few other eligible accounts, like a 401(k), 403(b), 457, and federal Thrift Savings Plans.
If the funds are being transferred from a ROTH IRA, have the Gold IRA set up as a ROTH IRA as well. This way you can preserve the tax benefits of a ROTH IRA, including the tax-free growth, provided that the funds remain in the ROTH account for no less than five years.
Should You Rollover Your Savings into a Gold IRA?
Rolling over 401(k) funds into an IRA has become a popular move for people who are investing in their retirement.
Most plans are created with the ability to be portable, and an IRA is the most portable of them all.
There are so many more choices that you can have.
You have different choices for the account owner, the type of investing that will be done, and even the fees that will be paid for the maintenance of the account.
This is the biggest advantage of having this level of flexibility.
Making Your Final Decision
For those who are considering making this financial move, there are many different companies that you can reach out to for further information and to help you with the process.
Typically, the custodian you assign to your account will have a list of who they have worked with in the past and who will be best to help you make this goal a reality.
If you haven’t found someone yet, consider going with Goldco.
They are a long-standing, highly respected company that has had decades of experience in the gold and precious metal trades.
They have helped people, from the most financially savvy to the beginning novice, to realize their goals of investment stability by purchasing real metals. The testimonials from their customers make them one of the most trustworthy resources.