By Sarah Brenner, JD
Director of Retirement Education


Dear Sirs:

I inherited a regular IRA upon my mother’s death in 2015. I am now 75 years old and have been taking required distributions since then. She was taking distributions herself when she died.

My question is: may I close out this IRA now by taking out the entire balance and paying taxes on it? Thanks.



Hi Patrick,

You inherited your mother’s IRA prior to the SECURE Act so you can stretch RMDs from this account over your life expectancy by taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) each year. However, these distributions are only the minimum that needs to be taken out to avoid penalties. You can always take more. If you want to withdraw the entire balance and pay taxes on it this year, there is nothing that prevents this.


Does the unexpected position of the IRS in the new regulations that non-spouse beneficiaries must take RMDs rather than waiting until the end of the 10-year period to empty the account also apply to an inherited Roth IRA?



In the recently released proposed regulations, the IRS took the surprising position that when an IRA owner dies after their required beginning date, annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) are required during the 10-year payout period under the SECURE Act. This rule does not affect Roth IRA beneficiaries who are subject to the 10-year rule because there is no required beginning date for Roth IRA owners. Roth IRA owners do not have to take RMDs during their lifetime, so they are always considered to have died before their required beginning date.