It depends.

Generally, if you are the spouse of the Roth IRA owner and you are the sole primary beneficiary, you may treat the Roth IRA as your own. This means that you would not need to take distributions unless you wanted to do so.

If you are not the surviving spouse of the Roth IRA owner, your options are as follows:

  • Distribute the entire balance by December 31 of the fifth year following the year the Roth IRA owner died.
  • Distribute the assets over your single life expectancy. Under this option, distributions must begin by December 31 of the year following the year the Roth IRA owner died.

To be sure, check the Roth IRA agreement and disclosure statement to determine your options, as the IRA custodian may limit your options. For instance, some custodians limit distribution options for beneficiaries to the five-year option.

For more insight, see Inherited Retirement Plan Assets - Part 1 and Part 2.

Question answered by Denise Appleby, CISP, CRC, CRPS, CRSP, APA

  1. Are estate planning fees tax deductible?

    Estate planning fees may be tax deductible, but only if certain conditions have been met. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can personal loans be included in bankruptcy?

    Personal loans from friends, family and employers fall under common categories of debt that can be discharged in the case ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. When can catch-up contributions start?

    Most qualified retirement plans such as 401(k), 403(b) and SIMPLE 401(k) plans, as well as individual retirement accounts ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Who can make catch-up contributions?

    Most common retirement plans such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans, as well as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) allow you ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can you have both a 401(k) and an IRA?

    Investors can have both a 401(k) and an individual retirement account (IRA) at the same time, and it is quite common to have ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Are 401(k) contributions tax deductible?

    All contributions to qualified retirement plans such as 401(k)s reduce taxable income, which lowers the total taxes owed. ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Roth 401(k), 403(b): Which Is Right for You?

    Learn how to decide between a traditional or Roth version of the 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) retirement plans to help you build your nest egg.
  2. Personal Finance

    The Ten Commandments of Personal Finance

    Here are the simple financial Ten Commandments that, when faithfully followed, can lead to a secure economic future.
  3. Retirement

    Is the New myRA Plan Right for You?

    The new myRA accounts seem to deliver on their promise of being “simple, safe and affordable.” Just be prepared for paltry annual returns.
  4. Credit & Loans

    Should I Use My IRA to Pay Off My Credit Cards?

    Cashing in an IRA to deal with outstanding credit card balances may not be the best way, but sometimes it's the best available way. Here's how.
  5. Investing Basics

    Fee-Only Financial Advisors: What You Need To Know

    Are you considering hiring a fee-only financial advisor or one who is compensated via commissions? Read this first.
  6. Retirement

    How Much Money Do You Need to Retire at 56?

    Who wouldn't want to retire early and enjoy the good life? The question is, "How much will it cost?" Here's a quick and dirty way to get an answer.
  7. Retirement

    The Best Strategies to Maximize Your Roth IRA

    If a Roth IRA makes sense for you, here are ways to build the biggest nest egg possible with it.
  8. Retirement

    Two Heads Are Better Than One With Your Finances

    We discuss the advantages of seeking professional help when it comes to managing our retirement account.
  9. Retirement

    5 Secrets You Didn’t Know About Traditional IRAs

    A traditional IRA gives you complete control over your contributions, and offers a nice complement to an employer-provided savings plan.
  10. Retirement

    Using Your IRA to Invest in Property

    Explain how to use an IRA account to buy investment property.
  1. Taxes

    An involuntary fee levied on corporations or individuals that ...
  2. Fiduciary

    A fiduciary is a person who acts on behalf of another person, ...
  3. Letter of Intent - LOI

    A document outlining the terms of an agreement before it is finalized. ...
  4. Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract

    A Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC) is a deferred annuity ...
  5. Wealth Management

    A high-level professional service that combines financial/investment ...
  6. See-Through Trust

    A trust that is treated as the beneficiary of an individual retirement ...

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Cyber Monday

    An expression used in online retailing to describe the Monday following U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. Cyber Monday is generally ...
  2. Bar Chart

    A style of chart used by some technical analysts, on which, as illustrated below, the top of the vertical line indicates ...
  3. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  4. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  5. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  6. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
Trading Center