Can IRAs be held jointly by spouses?

Marriage / Divorce, IRAs, Retirement Plans
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Because the convenience of the acronym, we forget what it stands for.  In this case, IRA stands for “Individual Retirement Account”, or more technically, “Individual Retirement Arrangement”.  Consequently, you know this cannot be a joint account.

However, don’t get discouraged by the title.  Just because it’s not a joint account, you can still contribute on your spouse’s behalf if you make enough to cover for both annual contributions, and you can do so even your spouse is a stay-at-home mom.  

Furthermore, if you are worried about the estate planning because of the benefit of a joint account, please don’t!  IRA has more creditor protections as long as you remember to name primary and contingent beneficiaries.

Lastly, if one passes on, the survival spouse has more choices. He/she can either take the deceased spouse IRA and treated as his/her own, or as an inherited IRA.  Of course, there are many more rules and intricacies related to that.

September 2005
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May 2016