What to Do After Inheriting an IRA

Heirs must begin taking withdrawals once they inherit an IRA, but how they choose to make those distributions can have a big impact on their account balance over time.

(Image credit: This content is subject to copyright.)

Question: My mother just passed away at the age of 60. She has $110,000 in a traditional IRA, and my sister and I are the beneficiaries. The bank said it will have to open an IRA account for each of us and then distribute the $110,000 equally between us. Do we need to keep the money with that bank or can we transfer it to another brokerage firm? Also, when do we need to withdraw the money? I'm 39 years old.

Answer: Because you and your sister are non-spouse beneficiaries, the bank will open inherited IRAs for each of you and transfer the money directly into the two accounts (the options are different for spouses who are beneficiaries and can roll the money into their own IRAs). You can keep the IRA at that bank or transfer it to a different IRA custodian, such as a brokerage firm or mutual fund company. Money from an inherited IRA must be directly transferred from the old account to the new one, so check with the new administrator to find out what steps you need to take to do this. "The new IRA custodian must be willing to accept inherited IRAs," says Christine Russell, senior manager of retirement at TD Ameritrade. You may also have to complete special paperwork for the transfer.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To continue reading this article
please register for free

This is different from signing in to your print subscription

Why am I seeing this? Find out more here

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.