The One Inherited 401(k)/IRA Mistake that Could Be Your Worst IRS Nightmare
As the proverbial saying goes, “life happens.” And as part of the natural progression of life, sooner or later, we are all bound to lose someone near and dear – and that person may have listed us as a non-spouse beneficiary of his/her 401(k), traditional IRA, or another kind of qualified plan.
No, I’m not trying to suggest what you should do with your inheritance. That will be totally up to you. However, if you intend to roll over money left to you in a qualified plan by someone other than your spouse, you must tread cautiously. And that’s because the manner in which you go about it could land you in some very hot waters with the IRS.
Let me use this recent case involving one of our clients to illustrate my point. She recently lost her mom, of whose IRA she was the beneficiary. The custodian of the IRA sent her a check made out in her (the client’s) name and explained to her that insofar as she deposited it in an IRA within 60 days, she would avoid having to pay taxes on the entire check, come tax time.
While that may sound like a pretty standard thing, it’s completely wrong, untrue, and inapplicable in this situation. The so-called “60-day-indirect-rollover” rule does not apply if you are a non-spouse beneficiary. What’s more, there’s no exception under the Tax Code – Section 408(d)(3)(c) – for non-spousal beneficiaries who accept checks made out in their names, even if you turn around and deposited it into an inherited IRA the very next moment.
So, but for the fact that my client has a pretty sharp advisor who knows what he’s talking about – hey, its OK for yours truly to take some credit every now and then – she would have been set up for a very nasty surprise come next April 15th when the IRS came knocking: that she would have to pay tax on her entire inheritance check.
It was pretty obvious to me that whoever gave her the erroneous information was unfamiliar with the IRS rules, so I got on the phone with the custodian to get the situation sorted out and have a new check issued directly to the new custodian.
In a nutshell, here’s what you should keep in mind. If someone other than your spouse leaves you money in a qualified plan and you intend to spread the tax burden over the longest possible time allowed by the IRS, your ONLY option is a direct-custodian-to-custodian rollover. And by the way, you should probably get yourself a pretty darn knowledgeable financial advisor, too!
If you are ready to have a real conversation about how to start planning for your future – even if you haven't saved a penny yet – visit LaserFG.com or call 877.656.9111 right now to book your complimentary, confidential consultation. You'll be paired with an experienced financial professional who can help you plan for a secure future, regardless of your current financial situation. Retirement planning means planning for ALL aspects of your life after retirement. If you're ready, we're here to help.