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Stretch out payments from inherited IRA

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Q. My brother died at age 68. I am age 66 and the beneficiary of his IRA. I want to start withdrawals over my life at age 70½, but the bank says I must empty out the IRA in five years. Is this true? E.L.R., Phoenix

A. Not necessarily. Assuming that you were the designated beneficiary of your brother’s IRA, you’re permitted to stretch out withdrawals from the IRA over your life expectancy. But you can’t wait until you turn 70½ to begin withdrawals. You must take your first required minimum distribution by Dec. 31 of the year after your brother’s death.

Tip: The rules are different if you inherited the IRA through your brother’s estate (i.e., you were not the IRA’s designated beneficiary). In that case, the IRA must be emptied out within five years.

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