Can either a SEP IRA or a SIMPLE IRA be attached in a bankruptcy or malpractice action, or are they safe from any financial judgments like these?

By Denise Appleby AAA
A:

State law determines whether or not an IRA, including SEP, SIMPLEs and Roth IRAs, can be attached in any bankruptcy proceedings, judgment or garnishment. The law varies among states and is subject to change at anytime.
The following are a few examples:
New York: The New York Statute protects Traditional, Roth and SIMPLE IRAs from bankruptcy proceedings. However, there have been at least two cases in which the court ruled that SEP IRAs are not offered the same protection; this resulted in differing legal opinions on whether SEPs are offered the same protection as Traditional, Roth and SIMPLE IRAs. Furthermore, the protection does not extend to amounts contributed to the account within 90 days after the judgment, or where judgment is made in cases of fraud.
Alabama: Traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are protected, but Roth IRAs are not.
New Jersey: Traditional, Roth, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are protected, except where judgment is made in cases of fraud.
Utah: Traditional, Roth, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are protected.
As you can see, the response will vary depending on the state. To be sure, consult with a lawyer to determine the law in your state and its applicability to the specific case.

This question was answered by Denise Appleby
(Contact Denise)

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