Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Getting The Most From An IRA

Question: I’m one of four beneficiaries (and the youngest sibling) named to inherit my father’s IRA. How would I get the most ‘stretch’ from the IRA?

Answer:  The goal here would be to get the maximum stretch possible and since you are the youngest named beneficiary, it would be best if the payout were based on your life expectancy.

Generally, if there are multiple beneficiaries inheriting an IRA, in order to use each beneficiary’s own life expectancy, a separate share accounting must be done in calculating required minimum distributions. This will ensure each individual beneficiary will have the longest payout period possible. A separate accounting means that the account should be split by the IRA custodian into separate inherited IRA shares. There is a deadline for establishing separate shares which is the end of the year following the year of the account owner’s death.

Comment: If the deadline is not met, all beneficiaries will be forced to use the life expectancy of the oldest of the beneficiaries. While in a lot of situations, this may not reduce the benefits significantly, in some cases (such as where one of the beneficiaries is much older than the others or is even a charity), the payout could be significantly affected.


As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Steve Shane at or 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Casual Small | 301.575.0313

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.



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