The Slott Report | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The Slott Report


Question: Hello, I have an IRA from my deceased father. The beneficiary is my mother, but she passed on before my father. The IRA custodian is saying this doesn't go through the estate but directly to me. I thought all IRA's that don't have a living beneficiary go through the estate. Can you help me understand this? Answer: Sorry about your loss. If your father chose a contingent beneficiary (to receive the funds in case your mother died before he did), then his IRA would go to that contingent beneficiary.

Catching Up

Who says getting old is all bad? Once you reach a certain age, Congress rewards your longevity by letting you contribute an extra amount to your IRA or workplace savings plan – with no strings attached. It’s a great way to boost your nest egg and get an immediate tax break if making pre-tax deferrals (or a tax break down the road if making Roth contributions). Age 50 catch-up for IRAs. If you’re age 50 or older by the end of a year, you can contribute an additional $1,000 to a traditional or Roth IRA for that year. For 2019, this means you can make a total IRA contribution of up to $7,000 – as long as you are otherwise eligible for the IRA.

Death, Taxes and Missed RMDs

Every year thousands of traditional IRA account owners turn 70 ½ years old. In addition, each year thousands of younger non-spouse beneficiaries inherit traditional and Roth IRA accounts. What do these two groups of people have in common? They all must begin taking RMDs. Here’s the kicker – what’s the chance that every single one of these thousands of people fresh to the world of required minimum distributions A.) realizes they need to take an RMD; B.) knows the deadline for taking the RMD; and C.) actually takes it?

Rollovers & RMDs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: We found a discussion on your website’s discussion board in 2011 regarding 60-day rollovers straddling two calendar years. We are trying to confirm that a rollover would still be valid even if the Form 1099-R and 5498 may be issued in two different years. Answer: This is a question that comes up frequently. As long as all the rollover requirements are met there is no problem with a rollover that straddles two tax years. For example, you may have funds distributed late in the year that are not rolled over until the next year. If this is your situation, you will report the rollover transaction on your tax return for the year of the distribution.

3 Things You Must Know if You Inherit an Inherited IRA

IRAs have now been around for decades. This means these accounts are now being inherited by beneficiaries and even, increasingly, by successor beneficiaries. Here are 3 things you must know if you are a successor beneficiary who inherits an inherited IRA: You can continue the stretch. One of the first questions you may have when you inherit an inherited IRA may be about when distributions are required. You may wonder if you can continue the stretch or maybe even extend the stretch over your own life expectancy. The bad news is that as a successor beneficiary you cannot use your own life expectancy to calculate required minimum distributions (RMDs).


You may know that you participate in a DC retirement plan. But what exactly does that mean? (Hint: It doesn’t mean that your plan is sponsored by the District of Columbia.) “DC” actually stands for “defined contribution” plan. Defined contribution plans are a type of company retirement plan and are distinguished from DB (“defined benefit”) plans/ Types of DC plans. The most popular types of DC plans are 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and 457(b) plans. Each of these types allows employees to make salary deferrals and may also allow employer contributions. 401(k) plans are for employees of private sector companies. Thrift savings plans (TSPs) are similar to 401(k) plans and are for employees of the federal government and for the military. 403(b) plans (also known as tax-sheltered annuity or TSA plans) are for employees of public schools,

Excess Contributions and the Stretch IRA: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Hello, I have heard Ed speak at several different Wells Fargo events and he spoke one time about clients who over contribute to their 401(k). I believe there was a strategy where they can move the excess to an IRA. Can you tell me where to find more info on this strategy? Answer: There is no strategy to move an excess 401(k) contribution to an IRA. To avoid being taxed twice, excess plus earnings attributable must be removed by April 15th of the year after the year the excess was contributed. There is no way to “fix” it with a rollover or some other transfer as the excess is ineligible to be rolled over. The combined allowable amount contributed to a 401(k) by employer and employee is $56,000 in 2019 ($62,000 over age 50), and that cap cannot be breached.

Bankruptcy: Fail to Plan? Plan to Fail

Just as IRA and 401(k) plans have different levels of bankruptcy protection, so too do other possessions. Whether these assets are qualified or not, there are ways to shield oneself from creditors. Case in point - in order to shelter certain monies, a couple in Wisconsin sold their 1974 Plymouth and some real estate. They subsequently purchased a non-qualified annuity with the proceeds. Their creditors did everything in their power to disqualify the annuity to gain access to the funds, but were unsuccessful. The Court ruled that the couple had successfully used “exemption planning” to remove the assets from their bankruptcy estate.

7 Common Questions on the SECURE Act

The Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act recently passed the House of Representatives by a large margin. It is currently stalled in the Senate. This bill includes a multitude of provisions that would reshape retirement savings if passed. Buried deep within the proposed legislation is a provision that would do away with the stretch IRA for most beneficiaries. We have received many questions on this provision. Here are a few of the most common:


Question: As I understand it, a contribution would be income tax free when sent directly from an IRA to a 501(c)(3) organization. It is not clear to me if the distributions still will affect my MAGI that in turn will affect Medicare Part B IRMAA premiums. Jennifer Answer: Hi Jennifer, If your IRA distribution satisfies the conditions for a qualified charitable distribution (“QCD”), the distribution will not be taxable to you. That, by itself, won’t lower your modified adjusted gross income (“MAGI”). However, if the QCD is used to satisfy the required minimum distribution (“RMD”) from your IRA, that will reduce your MAGI.

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