Advertisement
retirement

How to Calculate Your Life Expectancy When Taking RMDs

If you're married, the IRS life-expectancy table you use depends on the age of your spouse.

Question: My wife passed away a few months ago. I had been taking required minimum distributions from my IRA based on the joint life-expectancy tables because she was more than 10 years younger than I am. I'm wondering whether I can still use the same RMD table this year, or if I need to change to the uniform life-expectancy table, which would require me to take out more money this year. I am 78 years old.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Answer: I am sorry for your loss. You can continue using the joint life-expectancy table for this year's RMD, but you will need to switch to the uniform life-expectancy table next year.

Here's some more information about the rules for using the two different tables. Most people determine their required minimum distributions based on the "uniform lifetime" table, which you can find as Table 3 in Appendix B in IRS Publication 590-B. A 78-year-old, for example, would divide his total traditional IRA balance at the end of 2015 by 20.3 to determine his required withdrawal for 2016.

But if your sole IRA beneficiary is a spouse who is more than 10 years younger than you, then you can use the "joint life expectancy" table, which requires smaller withdrawals. The specific amount is based on both spouses' ages. For example, a 78-year-old with a 65-year-old beneficiary would divide his year-end 2015 IRA balance by 22.4 to determine the RMD for 2016. See Table 2 in Publication 590-B for the figures. Also see Retirement Distributions When Your Spouse Is Much Younger for more information.

In general, you can use the joint life table only if your spouse who is more than 10 years younger than you is your sole beneficiary for the entire year. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule, and one of them is related to death during the year, says Jeffrey Levine, director of retirement education for Ed Slott and Co., an IRA consulting firm. Your RMD can still be calculated using the joint life table in the year your spouse dies, even if you name a new beneficiary before the year is over (which he recommends doing).

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement

Most Popular

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)

Between due dates for IRA or HSA contributions, paying estimated taxes and other deadlines, there's more to do by July 15 than just filing your federa…
July 10, 2020
65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On
stocks

65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On

These 65 Dividend Aristocrats are an elite group of dividend stocks that have reliably increased their annual payouts every year for at least a quarte…
July 8, 2020
Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider
credit & debt

Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider

Your credit score is a key indicator of your financial well-being and of the risk you pose to lenders. How good is yours?
July 10, 2020

Recommended

Stay on Top of RMD Rule Changes for 2020
required minimum distributions (RMDs)

Stay on Top of RMD Rule Changes for 2020

Between the SECURE Act and the CARES Act, the landscape has changed for RMDs this year. You don’t need to take one, for instance. And if you already h…
June 29, 2020
Retirees Get Another Break with Expansion of RMD Waiver
required minimum distributions (RMDs)

Retirees Get Another Break with Expansion of RMD Waiver

The CARES Act cancelled "required minimum distributions" for 2020...and the IRS just expanded that relief to help more seniors and give more time to u…
June 24, 2020
Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year
tax law

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year

Americans are facing a long list of tax changes for the 2020 tax year...and it's never too early to start thinking about next year's return.
June 22, 2020
Why 2020 Is an 'Unprecedented Opportunity' for a Roth IRA Conversion
retirement

Why 2020 Is an 'Unprecedented Opportunity' for a Roth IRA Conversion

Tax advisors say you can reduce your tax bill by 30% to 40% in this unprecedented time.
June 17, 2020