DEFINITION of 'Five-Year Rule'

If a retirement account owner dies before the required beginning date for receiving distributions, the beneficiary may distribute the inherited assets over his/her (the beneficiary's) life expectancy or distribute the assets under the five-year rule. Under the five-year rule, the assets must be distributed by December 31 of the fifth year since the retirement account owner's death.

BREAKING DOWN 'Five-Year Rule'

The five-year rule does not apply if the IRA owner dies after the required beginning date (RBD).

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RELATED FAQS
  1. Does the five-year rule apply if a non-spouse inherits an IRA after the required ...

    The five-year rule applies only when the IRA owner dies before the required beginning date (RBD). If the IRA owner dies after ... Read Answer >>
  2. If an IRA owner dies after starting required minimum distributions (RMD) but the ...

    If the IRA owner dies after the required beginning date (RBD) and his/her beneficiary is his/her spouse, the spouse beneficiary ... Read Answer >>
  3. Where can I find information on how to distribute my deceased parent's assets?

    Related information can be found in IRS publication 590. See page 32 (bottom right hand corner) and page 35. If the trust ... Read Answer >>
  4. If I pass away, will my retirement plan go to my spouse tax free?

    If your spouse is the designated beneficiary of your retirement plan, the assets will pass to him or her tax free. The general ... Read Answer >>
  5. How does a qualified retirement plan early distribution work?

    Weigh the pros and cons of taking an early distribution from a retirement account. Most early distributions are subject to ... Read Answer >>
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