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

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