How Investments Are Sold When RMDs Are on Autopilot

The rules vary by company.

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I’ve arranged for my IRA administrator to take out RMDs for me automatically, but how does it determine which investments to sell? - G.C., Santa Clara, Calif.

The rules vary by company. At Fidelity, you can have the money withdrawn proportionately from each of your IRA investments (the most common option). Or you can elect a fixed percentage from a few investments or have 100% taken from cash. Vanguard has similar options.Charles Schwab takes automatic RMDs only from cash, and the firm sends an alert two weeks beforehand in case you need to sell shares to raise the money.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.