You’re going through a lot, having to deal with your spouse’s untimely passing… and you have plenty of decisions that have to be made with regard to handling his or her final affairs. All of the non-qualified accounts must be dealt with as the will or probate determines, and you (or the estate’s representative) have to work through all of those arrangements. It’s difficult to deal with all of these things, but you have to do so.
But there’s a bit of good news for you: you don’t have a deadline for dealing with the IRA(s) that you have inherited yourself.
The Spousal Inherited IRA
If you’ve inherited an IRA from your spouse, you have several choices in how to deal with it – described in this article
. But the thing about it is, you’re not required to do anything at all immediately. You can leave this account alone and do nothing with it at all for the present. (see Note below for complications)
Of course, if you do nothing with the account, you can choose to begin taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) immediately – but this doesn’t have to occur either. If you simply leave the account as it is and do not take any RMDs from the account, it will be considered your own IRA by default, and you can treat it as such, making contributions, etc., and taking distributions when allowed. But there’s nothing that requires you to do anything
Note: A complication comes about when the IRA is bequeathed to any other person or entity in addition to the spouse of the original account owner. This would apply if the spouse and children are splitting the account, or if part of the account is to be transferred to a charity or a trust, for example. In a case like this, you would need to split the account to the other heirs (as described in this article) first, leaving your spousal portion as a remainder in order to treat the account as described above. This has to be completed by the end of the calendar year following the year of the original account owner’s death.
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