What Proposed IRA Updates Could Mean for Your Retirement – and Your Kids

The SECURE Act is not a done deal yet, but it makes sense to watch it closely because it could affect everything from RMDs to inheritances.

New legislation making its way through Congress has the potential to create significant changes around retirement planning and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act passed the House in May of 2019, but has been stalled in the Senate ever since (as of the end of October 2019). However, analysts say it could find new momentum as part of one of several spending bills on the docket this fall.

SEE ALSO: How to Buy Out Your Retirement ‘Business Partner’ – with a Roth Conversion

Some proposed changes will affect all retirees, while others zero in on specific groups like part-time workers and new parents who want to use retirement funds to pay for birth and adoption expenses. There are several provisions that would impact wealthy families looking to maximize tax and estate planning strategies through retirement. And as with any legislation, there are plusses and minuses to these proposals.

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Here are a few aspects of the SECURE Act that high-net-worth families should be aware of if the legislation passes in the Senate.

An Opportunity for Tax Savings with Required Minimum Distribution Requirements

One bright spot in the proposed law is a new rule that would shift the age for beginning Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from 70½ to 72 years old. This change creates an opportunity to rethink tax planning strategies, and it’s good news for families who don’t need to use their RMDs and can benefit from a few additional years without that taxable income. Clients have an extra year and a half before they have to start taking that taxable income and have the opportunity to plan accordingly by pulling from different assets or adjusting the details of stock option planning or deferred compensation payouts.

A Challenge for Leaving IRA Assets to Beneficiaries

The SECURE Act also includes some possible disheartening news for high-net-worth families looking to pass on a significant portion of their IRAs to subsequent generations. One provision would limit the time non-spouse beneficiaries have to collect distributions to 10 years after receiving an inheritance. Currently, individuals who inherit an IRA can distribute the assets during their lifetime and thus spread the tax impact over a longer time period. Often beneficiaries are able to collect after they retire and are in a lower tax bracket. If all distributions had to be made within a 10-year period, it would force more individuals to collect larger amounts while they’re still working, thus imposing on them a higher tax rate. In some cases, the distributions from these IRAs could push them into higher tax brackets.

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A trusted adviser can act as a valuable partner in navigating these changes and ensuring assets are effectively shared over generations. In many cases, individuals have three places where their investment assets live:

  • Roth IRAs
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Personal investment accounts

Individuals and their advisers work together to decide in which order these assets should be spent in retirement and which should be passed on in estate planning. Right now, in most situations where it is unlikely that you will consume all of your assets during your lifetime, it makes sense to pass on the Roth IRA, followed by personal investment assets and then the traditional IRA (which has an embedded tax liability). If the 10-year distribution rule comes to pass, that strategy may need to be adjusted.

See Also: Which Bucket Should Retirees Tap First, for Their Heirs' Sake?

Navigating the New Rules – 2 Scenarios

Here are two scenarios detailing how an adviser might help a family effectively plan for the proposed 10-year distribution change.

  • Scenario No. 1: The parents are in their late 70s with a child in her early 50s. The child is in the highest tax bracket and plans to continue working for the next 10-plus years. If the child were to inherit an IRA from her parents, she would have to distribute the assets over the next 10 years at the highest tax rate. Instead, an adviser recommends a different strategy. Because the parents are retired and in a lower tax bracket, they can take the distributions over a period of years (or initiate a Roth IRA conversion strategy) and pay the taxes themselves, at their lower tax rate. They can then shift the assets into personal investment accounts (or a Roth IRA) that will be incorporated into a broader estate planning strategy.
  • Scenario No. 2: Again, consider parents in their late 70s with a high-earning child in her early 50s. The child does not anticipate needing that money during her lifetime. In this case, an adviser suggests her parents name a grandchild as a beneficiary. The grandchild would still have to take the distribution over 10 years, but the tax impact would be lower since he is earning less money.

Planning that Ensures Prosperity over Generations

Responsible financial advisers are committed to staying on top of evolving legislation and regulations and utilizing the most effective planning strategies to sustain a family’s legacy. We focus on retirement planning that maximizes the impact of an individual’s assets not just for their golden years, but for generations to come. By working with this kind of trusted adviser, you can stay ahead of proposed legislation like the SECURE Act and know that whenever changes come, you’ll have a team to provide proper planning and peace of mind.

See Also: Critical Choices for IRA Beneficiaries

About the Author

Grant Rawdin, J.D., CFP®

Founder and CEO, Wescott Financial Advisory Group LLC

Grant Rawdin is Founder and CEO of Wescott Financial Advisory Group LLC. He founded the firm in 1987, which grew from the tax, business and estate services he provided to clients at Duane Morris LLP, a venerable AMLaw 100 law firm. Grant is an attorney, an accountant and a Certified Financial Planner™ and has served as adviser to many businesses, providing strategic, ongoing, and M&A advice. Grant and Wescott are recognized as leading the investment and financial planning industry in innovation, growth and size.


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