An individual may establish an IRA with a bank, savings, and loan association, credit union, trust company, such as IRA Financial Trust Company, a brokerage firm, or other organization that can demonstrate to the IRS the ability to lawfully administer the IRA account. The trustee or custodian must be a bank, a federally insured credit union, a savings and loan association, or an entity approved by the IRS to act as trustee or custodian. An individual retirement annuity is generally established through an insurance company.

To establish an IRA, the IRA holder and the financial organization offering the IRA must agree upon certain terms and condition in writing. An IRA is established when the individual and the financial institution sign and receive the IRA opening documents. You can set-up an IRA at any time. When the IRA is opened, it is essentially a trust with no investments. The IRA is funded when the IRA owner makes contributions or funds are transferred or rolled over from another retirement account.