A:

A spouse who is the sole primary beneficiary of an IRA can always treat the IRA as his or her own. The contingent beneficiary on an IRA is never taken into consideration unless the primary beneficiary predeceases the IRA owner, or the primary beneficiary disclaims the assets.

If the spouse is not the sole primary beneficiary, he or she can transfer the assets to an inherited/beneficiary IRA and later roll over the amount to his or her own IRA.

For more information, read Who Is The Beneficiary Of Your Account?, Problematic Beneficiary Designations - Part 1 and Disclaiming Inherited Plan Assets.

This question was answered by Denise Appleby
(Contact Denise)

RELATED FAQS
  1. Can the non-spouse beneficiary of an IRA name a successor beneficiary?

    Whether the beneficiary of an individual retirement account (IRA) can name a successor beneficiary (second generation beneficiary) ... Read Answer >>
  2. My mother inherited my father's IRA. When she died, I received an account application ...

    If your brother cannot be found, you may want to check with the IRA custodian and/or the financial advisor to find out if ... Read Answer >>
  3. Can I put my IRA in a trust?

    Learn the proper way to transfer ownership of your IRA to a trust. Consider how naming the trust as a beneficiary affects ... Read Answer >>
  4. If both the primary and contingent beneficiaries are unavailable, what happens to ...

    Understand the difference between primary and contingent beneficiaries and what happens to assets when neither are present ... Read Answer >>
  5. What does U.S. law say about contingent beneficiaries?

    Learn about regulations the United States has on the naming of contingent beneficiaries, the types of contingencies that ... Read Answer >>
  6. Can an IRA owner disclaim his widow's account but exclude one spendthrift contingent ...

    From your question, it appears that the widow is the sole primary beneficiary, in which case any portion properly disclaimed ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Designating A Trust As Retirement Beneficiary

    Designating a trust as your IRA beneficiary can be beneficial, but it requires proper planning to avoid problems.
  2. Retirement

    Refusing An Inheritance

    Contrary to popular belief, inheriting assets isn't always a good thing. Find out what to do if you want to disclaim them.
  3. Options & Futures

    An Estate Planning Must: Update Your Beneficiaries

    Life changes make it time to rewrite your plan's designations.
  4. Financial Advisors

    How to Handle Client Beneficiary Designations

    Beneficiary designations are a critical financial planning step that can be easily overlooked. Here's how to ensure they are properly done.
  5. Retirement

    Want To Leave Money To Your Family? Stretch Your IRA

    Find out how your beneficiaries can enjoy tax-deferred growth for as long as possible.
  6. Retirement

    Inherited IRA and 401(k) Rules: Don't Run Afoul

    What you need to know when it comes to the complex rules for inherited IRAs and 401(k)s.
  7. Insurance

    Who is a Beneficiary?

    A beneficiary is a person or entity that receives funds, assets, property or other benefits from a trust, will, or life insurance policy.
  8. Retirement

    The Complete Guide To Retirement Planning For 50-Somethings: Beneficiary and Estate Planning

    Beneficiary DesignationsIt is possible that you will not spend all of the funds that you save in your retirement nest egg. As such, you should make plans to ensure proper disposal of those assets, ...
  9. Taxes

    September 30: A Key Date For Retirement Plan Beneficiaries

    Unless certain action is taken by this date, distribution rules can put the youngest inheritor at a disadvantage.
  10. Savings

    529 Plans: Eligibility

    By Denise Appleby Who Can Establish and Contribute to the 529 Plan?Anyone can establish and contribute to a 529 plan on behalf of a designated beneficiary. This means that relatives, family, ...
RELATED TERMS
  1. Primary Beneficiary

    A beneficiary in a will, trust or insurance policy that is first ...
  2. Inherited IRA

    An individual retirement account that is left to a beneficiary ...
  3. Stretch IRA

    An estate planning concept that is applied to extend the financial ...
  4. Alternate Beneficiary

    In a will, an alternate beneficiary is usually named in case ...
  5. Contingent Beneficiary

    1. A beneficiary specified by an insurance contract holder who ...
  6. IRA Asset Will

    A document that specifies how the assets in an individual retirement ...
Trading Center