Articles tagged with: inherited assets

An Inherited IRA

Here are some things to consider when you receive IRA assets.

Be sure you understand your options. When the owner of an IRA passes away, his or her heirs must be aware of the rules and regulations affecting Inherited IRAs. Ignorance can lead straight toward a tax disaster.

Please note that this is simply an overview. Rather than use this article as a guide, use it as a prelude before you talk to a financial services professional well-versed in IRA rules and regulations. Inherited IRA rules are remarkably complex, and that conversation is essential.

First, make sure you have actually inherited the IRA. Your spouse, parent or grandparent may have left their traditional or Roth IRA to you in a will, but that doesn’t mean you have inherited it. In all but rare cases, an IRA beneficiary designation form takes precedence over a bequest made in a will or living trust. (The same applies to annuities and life insurance policies.)1

Your first task is to find the beneficiary form. The financial firm serving as the custodian of the IRA assets should have a copy on file if you cannot locate one (although this is not a given).

What if I’m not the beneficiary named on the form? The IRA assets are destined to go to whoever the primary beneficiary is. One or more contingent beneficiaries are also usually named; if the primary beneficiary is now deceased, then the contingent beneficiaries will inherit the IRA assets.2

What if no beneficiary is named on the form? Then the financial firm supervising the IRA will choose a beneficiary according to its rules and/or IRS guidelines. It may decide that the decedent’s estate will be the beneficiary of the IRA, which is often the poorest outcome in terms of taxation.2

Spousal heirs who inherit a Roth or traditional IRA have options. Here they are, stated as straightforwardly as their complexities allow.

You can have the assets rolled over into your own IRA. This way, you can withdraw those inherited assets based upon your own life expectancy. If you transfer the inherited assets into a traditional IRA you already own, you don’t have to take Required Minimum Distributions from those assets until age 70½. If you transfer the inherited assets into a Roth IRA you already own, you don’t have to take RMDs from those assets at all. (Inherited Roth IRA assets can only be rolled over into Roth IRAs; inherited traditional IRA assets can only be rolled over into traditional IRAs.) Only spouses have this rollover option.3,4

You can transfer the assets into a new Inherited IRA in your name. If your spouse was older than 70½ when he or she died, then you must start taking RMDs from the Inherited IRA by December 31 of the year after the year of your spouse’s death (or pay penalties to the IRS). If your spouse passed before age 70½, you might be able to postpone RMDs until the date when your spouse would have turned 70½.3

You can create an Inherited IRA to house the assets, and then roll over the assets from the Inherited IRA into a new Roth IRA in your name. Yes, you will pay taxes on the Roth conversion. The upside is that the assets will go into a Roth IRA, paving the way for no RMDs, potentially lifelong contributions and tax-free withdrawals.3,4

You can “disclaim” all or some of the inherited assets. If you don’t want or need the money from an Inherited IRA, here is another option. By doing this, the disclaimed inheritance can go to the contingent (or successor) beneficiary named on the beneficiary form. Spousal IRA heirs sometimes do this with the goal of reducing income and estate taxes.3

What choices do non-spousal heirs have? Before discussing that, it is worth noting that non-spousal heirs often get little or no guidance when it comes to Inherited IRAs. Too often, the financial firm overseeing the IRA just asks, “What do you want to do?” Often the IRA heir doesn’t know what to do.

First, ask the financial firm overseeing the IRA to help you retitle it as an Inherited IRA. This has to be done by September 30 of the year following the year in which the original IRA owner passed away. Usually the new title for the Inherited IRA is something like “Mary Jones IRA (Deceased 8/25/2015) for the benefit of Thomas Jones, beneficiary.” This retitling tells the IRS that this is now an Inherited IRA (for which you may name a beneficiary).5,6

This retitling is a key first step to a direct rollover of the Inherited IRA assets – a transfer of those assets from the financial firm the original IRA was held with to the financial firm your investments are held with. If you are a non-spousal IRA heir, this direct rollover (also called a direct IRA-to-IRA transfer) is very important. It gives the funds a chance to have further tax-advantaged growth.

Non-spousal heirs have a basic either-or choice when it comes to withdrawals from Inherited IRAs. They can either take lump-sum withdrawals or Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs).

Usually, your poorest option is a lump-sum withdrawal. If you touch the money at any point – that is, if the IRA custodian cuts you a check for the Inherited IRA assets and you deposit it in a bank account or IRA you have – that is not a direct rollover. That is an indirect rollover, and the entire amount withdrawn is treated as taxable income by the IRS. (An exception: if you cash out an Inherited Roth IRA, it is not a taxable event if the Roth IRA has existed for five or more years.) A direct rollover – in which only the custodian brokerages touch the money as they transfer it from one IRA to another – is not a taxable event.5,6

Taking RMDs is usually the better option. A beneficiary can arrange RMDs from an Inherited IRA, with the following variations:

Does the Inherited IRA contain assets originally held in a traditional IRA? If so, the beneficiary must schedule RMDs over his or her life expectancy if the owner of that original, traditional IRA died after age 70½. If the original IRA owner passed away before age 70½, a beneficiary can either take RMDs based his or her life expectancy or by the 5-year method (whereby the entire Inherited IRA balance is depleted incrementally in five years).6

Does the Inherited IRA contain assets originally held in a Roth IRA? If so, the beneficiary can schedule RMDs over his or her life expectancy or by the aforementioned 5-year method. The age at which the original IRA owner died is irrelevant.6

Generally speaking, the RMDs must start by the end of the year following the year in which the original IRA owner passed away. If you don’t start taking these required withdrawals by December 31 of the following year, you will pay a penalty. Taking smaller withdrawals allows some of the IRA assets to stay invested with tax deferral, and it spreads the income tax liability on the Inherited IRA money over a multi-year period.3

What other things should IRA heirs know? Well, here are three important notes in closing.

Non-spousal heirs cannot contribute to an Inherited IRA. Spousal heirs who elect not to treat an Inherited IRA as their own or roll it over to their own retirement account also lose the ability to contribute to an Inherited IRA.7

You may be eligible for a tax deduction related to Inherited IRA income distribution(s). Income from an Inherited IRA is what the IRS terms “income in respect of a decedent.” This means you can take an income tax deduction for the portion of the estate tax attributable to the Inherited IRA (this is detailed in IRS Publication 590).5

If multiple beneficiaries are inheriting the IRA, you may be able to split the IRA up. Some IRA custodians allow division of Inherited IRA assets among multiple beneficiaries.5

So if you inherit an IRA, study the rules. The more informed you are and the more guidance you have, the better the potential outcome.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph#641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – bankrate.com/finance/retirement/ira-beneficiary-form-mistakes-to-avoid-1.aspx [9/24/14]

2 – irahelp.com/slottreport/there-no-beneficiary-retirement-account-now-what [1/9/14]

3 – fidelity.com/retirement-ira/inherited-ira/learn-about-your-choices [10/7/15]

4 – news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=716642 [10/7/15]

5 – retirementwatch.com/IRASample1.cfm [10/7/15]

6 – fool.com/investing/general/2015/09/28/the-inherited-ira-its-a-great-gift-but-learn-the-r.aspx [9/28/15]

7 – finance.zacks.com/can-contribute-inherited-ira-5545.html [10/7/15]

 

Women, Longevity Risk & Retirement Saving

Statistics point out the need to save early, save consistently & stay invested.
Will you live to be 100? If you’re a woman, your odds of becoming a centenarian are seemingly better than those of men. In the 2010 U.S. Census, over 80% of Americans aged 100 or older were women.1

Will you eventually live alone? According to the Administration on Aging (a division of the federal government’s Department of Health & Human Services), about 47% of women aged 75 or older lived alone in 2010. If that prospect seems troubling, there is another statistic that also may: while 6.7% of men age 65 and older lived in poverty in 2010, 10.7% of women in that age demographic did.2,3

Statistics like these carry a message: women need to pay themselves first. A phrase has emerged to describe all this: longevity risk. As so many women outlive their spouses by several years or more, a woman may need several years more worth of retirement income. So there is a need to consider income sources – and investment strategies – for the years after a spouse passes away.

What does this mean for the here and now? It means contributing as much as your budget allows to your retirement accounts. Procrastination is your enemy and compound interest is your friend. It means accepting some investment risk – growth investing for the long run is looking more and more like a necessity.

You will need steady income, and you will need to keep growing your savings. In 2012, Social Security income represented 50.4% of the average annual income for unmarried and widowed woman aged 65 and older. Having a monthly check is certainly comforting, but that check may not be as large as you would like. The average woman 65 or older received but $12,520 in Social Security benefits in 2012.4

You will likely need multiple streams of income in retirement, and fortunately forms of investment, housing decisions and inherited assets can potentially lead to additional income sources. A chat with a financial professional may help you determine which options are sensible to pursue.

Your income and your savings must also keep up with inflation. Even mild inflation can exact a toll on your purchasing power over time.

Risk-averse investing may come with a price. In 2013, the investment giant Allianz surveyed Americans with more than $200,000 in investable assets and unsurprisingly learned that their #1 priority was retirement savings protection. What did surprise some analysts was their penchant for conservative investing during a banner year for stocks.5

Memories of the 2008-09 bear market were apparently hard to dispel: 76% of those surveyed indicated that given the choice between an investment offering a 4% return with protection of principal and an investment offering an 8% return but lacked principal protection, they would take the one with the 4% return.5

A substandard return shouldn’t seem so attractive. If your portfolio yields 4% a year and inflation is running at 1% a year (as it is now), you can live with it. Your investments aren’t earning much, but the Consumer Price Index isn’t gaining on you. If consumer prices rise 3.3% annually (which was what yearly inflation averaged across 2004-07), you are barely making headway. You actually may be losing ground against certain consumer costs. If inflation tops 4% (and it might, if interest rates take off later in this decade), you would have a real problem.6

Cumulative inflation can really eat into things, as a check of a simple inflation calculator reveals. An $18.99 steak dinner at a nice restaurant in 2000 would cost you $24.54 today given the ongoing tame-to-moderate inflation over the last 14 years. That’s 36.3% more.7

As much as we would like to park our retirement money and avoid risk, fixed-income investments may not always offer much reward these days. Retirees can feel like they are being punished by low interest rates, as they can see prices rising faster around them at the grocery store and for assorted services and goods. Interest rates will rise, but equity investments have traditionally offered the potential for greater returns than fixed-income investments.

Growth investing is a possible response to longevity risk. After all, you don’t want to risk outliving your retirement savings. Keeping part of your portfolio in the stock market offers you the potential to keep growing your retirement money, thereby offering you the chance have a larger retirement fund from which to withdraw proportionate income.

Michael Moffitt may be reached at 1-800-827-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com.
website: cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by the urban consumers for a market basket of consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb12-239.html [12/10/12]
2 – aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2011/6.aspx [4/10/14]
3 – aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2011/10.aspx [4/10/14]
4 – ssa.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/women.htm [3/14]
5 – foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/10/24/wall-streets-rallying-so-why-are-boomers-so-scared/ [10/24/13]
6 – usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/ [4/10/14]
7 – usinflationcalculator.com/ [4/10/14]