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>> Is somebody lots cheaper? Is there some way to pay the fee directly each year instead of having it sliced out of the account's value? 5 percent is pretty savage!
It sure is! Depending on the way you want to invest the IRAs, you should be able to find lower custodial fees than $25.

Waterhouse Securities charges no custodial fees at all for IRAs. But Waterhouse's commission on stock trades is $12/transaction for online trading, which is not the lowest available, and there is a $25 exit fee to liquidate or transfer an IRA. However, the minimum balance is waived for IRAs.

If you were thinking of investing in mutual funds, many mutual-fund companies have fees of about $10. It is nearly impossible to avoid fees completely, because the rules require a custodian of some kind and usually it is a bank. It used to be possible to pay the custodial fee from outside the IRA, but I'm not sure that this is still the case.
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