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What to Know About Spousal IRA Benefits When You Lose a Loved One

The passing of a spouse can be especially traumatic for the other married partner but it can also have ripple effects across the entire family. Appropriate estate planning should be completed months or years in advance to ensure that the transition of these assets occurs as quickly as possible.

Changes in income can be some of the most common changes that occur for a spouse who has recently lost their partner but the impact often goes beyond that. It is critical for spouses to understand their options when they inherit a retirement account.

When it comes to an IRA, the first option is for a spousal beneficiary to roll the funds they have inherited to their own IRA account. This can assist with allowing the beneficiary to delay any required minimum distributions until they reach age 72.

A beneficiary’s life expectancy is used to calculate future RMDs. This approach can be the best fit for those who are already over age 59 and a half. But those spousal beneficiaries younger than this might be subjected to early withdrawal penalties. It’s important to have a relationship with an estate planning professional to ensure that you and your spouse have appropriate estate plans crafted and created such that the sudden loss of one of you can allow the other to transition.    

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