Q: I'm trying to find stocks for my IRA. How can I find stocks I can buy and hold forever?

First, I never suggest simply buying a stock and completely forgetting about it for years. It's always a good practice to occasionally check how each company that you're invested in is doing. This can be the simple act of reading quarterly earnings and annual reports, but it's still important to know what's going on.

Having said that, there are some steps you can take to craft a portfolio of low-maintenance stocks.

A good first step is to apply what I call the "50-year test." Ask yourself if you're 100% certain if the company's business will still be around in 50 years. For example, I like to invest in the banking and real estate sectors in my IRA. People will always need safe places to put their money, as well as physical structures to live in and conduct business in. Will they always need, say, action cameras? Maybe, but maybe not -- at least not as we know them now.

Once you're certain the industry passes the 50-year test, try to identify a sustainable competitive advantage that will keep the company's market share intact for years to come. As one example from my own portfolio, Realty Income (NYSE:O), which invests in freestanding retail properties, has a lower cost of capital and greater financial flexibility than its peers.

Finally, it's also a smart idea to look at the company's track record of earnings growth. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but companies that have steadily grown for decades have better chances of doing the same in the future.

Offer from The Motley Fool: The 10 best stocks to buy now
Motley Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner have spent more than a decade beating the market. In fact, the newsletter they run, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the S&P 500!*

Tom and David just revealed their ten top stock picks for investors to buy right now.

Click here to get access to the full list!

*Stock Advisor returns as of 4/3/2017.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.