Can I Give An Inherited Retirement Account to My Mom?

Your best bet may be to have the funds transferred into a “beneficiary IRA,” without you ever taking possession of the money.

Q: I’m 37 years old and my father recently passed away and left me his 401(k), which is currently worth about $115,000. I’ve got a good job and have been giving my mom cash each month for the last few years, and so I was thinking of just giving the 401(k) account to her (at the time of his death, my parents had been separated for some time). Any suggestions?

A: Inheriting a retirement account, such as a 401(k) or IRA, is, unfortunately, tricky business. The money that has been accumulated in the plan has been tax-deferred and will be taxable to the beneficiary who receives the proceeds. Plan correctly and you could enjoy decades of tax-deferred growth. Plan incorrectly, however, and even one small mistake could mean that you get slapped with a nasty tax bill.

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Scott Hanson, CFP
Financial Advisor and Co-Founder, Hanson McClain Advisors

Scott Hanson, CFP, answers your questions on a variety of topics and also co-hosts a weekly call-in radio program. Visit to ask a question or to hear his show. Follow him on Twitter at @scotthansoncfp.