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How to inherit an IRA

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in Small Business Tax

Q: My father passed away this year at age 69, and I am the sole beneficiary of his IRA. Do I have to take out all the money within five years? S.D., Massapequa, N.Y.

A: Probably not, because you generally have options: When an IRA owner dies before the start of required minimum distributions (i.e., before April 1 of the year after the year the person turned 70 1/2) and a beneficiary is named, that beneficiary can usually choose one of two options: (1) Distributions must be made within five years of the IRA owner's death OR (2) Distributions must be made over the beneficiary's life expectancy. Note: For a nonspouse beneficiary, as in your case, distributions must begin by the end of the calendar year after the year the IRA owner died. Another thing: Some retirement plans require you to simply drain the inherited account within five years of the account owner's death, in which case you aren't permitted to withdraw the money over your life expectancy. But this is the exception, rather than the rule.

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