Here's What to Know Before Withdrawing Funds from an Inherited IRA

Understanding Inherited IRAs

Dealing with the financial implications of an inheritance can be complex and emotional. For those who have inherited an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), understanding the rules and regulations is critical to maximize the inherited assets and minimize the tax burden. Inherited IRAs, which can be passed on to non-spouse beneficiaries, such as children or siblings, come with a series of IRS mandates that dictate how and when the funds can be withdrawn.

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2024 Rules for Inherited IRAs

As of 2024, significant changes are in effect due to the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which passed in 2019. The act greatly affects the distribution requirements for beneficiaries of IRAs. Most notably, the act eliminates the ability for most non-spouse beneficiaries to stretch the tax deferral benefits over their lifetime, instead requiring the entire balance of the inherited IRA to be distributed within 10 years of the original account owner's death.

Eligibility and Types of Inherited IRAs

When it comes to inherited IRAs, there are typically two types – the Inherited Traditional IRA and the Inherited Roth IRA. The rules for each differ slightly, particularly in relation to taxes.

Inherited Traditional IRAs

Inheriting a Traditional IRA typically means the assets were tax-deferred by the original owner, meaning the beneficiary will owe income tax on the distributions. The SECURE Act's 10-year rule requires that the entire account be emptied by the end of the 10th year following the year of inheritance, though there are no requirements for taking distributions annually.

Inherited Roth IRAs

The Inherited Roth IRA comes from original contributions that were already taxed. Therefore, beneficiaries can usually withdraw the assets tax-free, assuming the original account was held for at least five years. The same 10-year rule applies to Roth IRAs.

Strategies for Withdrawing from an Inherited IRA

There are several strategies beneficiaries can consider when planning withdrawals from an inherited IRA. The optimal strategy will depend on one's individual tax situation, other income sources, and financial goals.

Withdrawals Over the 10-Year Period

Bearing in mind the 10-year distribution rule, beneficiaries may opt to spread out the distributions equally over this period to manage their tax liability. This can be beneficial for those in a lower tax bracket, or if the withdrawals are expected to push you into a higher tax bracket if taken as a lump sum.

Lump-Sum Withdrawal

Some may select the lump-sum approach, accepting the full amount in one go. This can be advantageous if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket in future years, or you need a larger sum immediately for other financial needs.

Disclaiming the Inherited IRA

If you do not need the funds and prefer to avoid the potential tax consequences, you have the option to disclaim your inheritance. This ensures that the assets will be transferred to the contingent beneficiaries. This must be done within nine months of the original account holder's death and before you take possession of any assets.

Tax Considerations

While the 10-year rule applies to most non-spouse beneficiaries, some exceptions are called Eligible Designated Beneficiaries (EDBs), who may still take distributions based upon their life expectancy. EDBs include minor children of the original account owner, individuals who are disabled or chronically ill, and individuals not more than 10 years younger than the account owner.

Income Tax Implications

The tax implications for withdrawals from an Inherited IRA cannot be overlooked. Traditional IRA distributions will be taxed as ordinary income, potentially increasing your annual income tax liability. Consulting with a tax professional is crucial to understanding your unique tax situation.

State Tax Considerations

Don't forget that state taxes may apply as well. Some states have different rules or offer exemptions for inherited IRA distributions. Be sure to research your state's laws or speak with a local tax advisor.

Investment and Financial Planning with an Inherited IRA

The handling of an Inherited IRA is a significant financial planning opportunity. By considering your overall investment strategy, retirement plans, and financial goals, you can make more informed decisions about how to use the inherited funds. Reinvesting, saving, or spending the money will depend entirely on individual circumstances.

Reinvesting the Funds

If you don't need immediate access to the funds, reinvesting them is a way to keep growing the assets. You might consider rolling the money into existing investment portfolios, purchasing real estate, starting a business, or exploring other investment opportunities.

Creating a Financial Plan

An inherited IRA can play a key part in your overall financial strategy. It's important to take the time to review your financial plan and adjust it in light of the new assets. Working with a financial advisor is invaluable in this situation, as they can help tailor a plan specific to your needs.


Inheriting an IRA certainly adds a layer of complexity to financial planning and investing. With the SECURE Act's rules in mind, it's crucial to stay informed and consider the tax implications, investment strategies, and financial goals when deciding how to handle these funds. At, we provide the actionable insights and tools needed to navigate your financial journey with confidence. Whether it's understanding the nuances of an inherited IRA, planning for retirement, or managing your finances, let us help you invest wisely and create a secure financial future.

Final Thoughts on Inherited IRAs

While the loss of a loved one is never easy, taking the time to carefully plan and manage an inherited IRA can result in significant financial benefits. With the right strategy, you can maximize the potential of your inheritance and ensure that your financial future is as secure and prosperous as possible.