The Slott Report | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The Slott Report

The Ghost Rule

As Halloween approaches and the leaves change color, families gather ‘round weekend campfires, roast marshmallows, and share spooky stories. Watchful owls hoot in the dark. In the distance, a wolf howls at the moon. A rustle in the bushes. A twig snaps. What was that?!? A dad in a flannel shirt shines a flashlight under his chin, his features glowing red. He scans the anxious little faces, awash in flickering firelight, and tells a tale about the Ghost Rule. Once upon a time, a kindly little man had an IRA account. He did not care much for tax or estate planning. He did not care to fill out forms, as he did not care much for details. He cared only to sit on his front porch and rock in his chair and watch the world go by.

Important Trust Deadline Approaches

For trusts that inherited an IRA in 2019, an important deadline is approaching. October 31, 2020 is the due date to provide required trust documentation to the IRA custodian to ensure that the longest payout period possible is available for the inherited IRA. Generally, only individuals who are named on an IRA beneficiary form can be designated beneficiaries. A trust is not an individual but if the trust qualifies as a "look through" or "see-through" trust, then each individual beneficiary of the trust can qualify as a designated beneficiary for IRA distribution purposes. For trusts that inherited in 2019, prior to the enactment of the SECURE Act in 2020, this would allow each trust beneficiary to stretch payments over the life expectancy of the oldest beneficiary.

Inherited IRAs and QCDs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Sir, I inherited an IRA from my sister two years ago. She was collecting RMDs at 78. My question involves collecting my sister’s RMD. Does the 10-year withdrawal go into effect now or do I use the table under my age, which is 73? Charles

AM I ENTITLED TO ERISA CREDITOR PROTECTION?

With the recent economic downturn, you may be more concerned than ever about keeping retirement plan funds safe from creditors. If you participate in a plan covered by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), you can sleep well at night. Your plan accounts are completely shielded from creditors – whether or not you’ve declared bankruptcy. (Not surprisingly, there is an exception allowing the IRS to recoup unpaid taxes.)

IRAs, Life Insurance & Pizza

Many years ago, my wife and I went to lunch at a pizza joint in a strip mall. The friendly gray-haired host in sensible shoes (whom I pegged for mid-to-late 60’s), tucked two menus under her arm, grabbed a couple sets of silverware wrapped in white paper napkins, and led us to our booth. Since the noontime rush was yet to hit, our host decided to chat. She asked how our day was going, made a pleasant comment about my wife’s shirt, and told us she was a bit tired because, “after this I need to run over to my second job at Kohl’s. Just trying to keep a roof over my head. Been pretty busy since my third husband died.”

RMDs Under the Secure Act & Roth Conversions: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Would you kindly clarify the rule that governs the withdrawal period and the tax implication (if any) of RMDs from an inherited IRA? The SECURE Act and the IRS document 590B are not clear. Here is the situation: I have a traditional IRA with my granddaughter as the sole beneficiary. My understanding is that before the SECURE Act, inherited IRA's had to issue annual RMD's if the original owner was taking them. The SECURE Act seems to say that annual RMD's are no longer required to be taken by a non-spouse beneficiary, just as long as the account is fully distributed in the 10-year period.

3 Reasons Why You May Want to Think Twice About a 72(t) Payment Plan

Times are tough. Unemployment is high and bills are piling up for many. These realities have forced a lot of people to look for sources of extra cash. For many Americans, their IRA is their biggest, or maybe only, savings available. It may be tempting to consider tapping into it in these challenging times. Distributions taken before age 59 ½ are subject to a 10% early distribution penalty.

Inherited IRAs and the 10-Year Rule: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: Hi there! I have a quick question, so I thought I’d reach out to you to get your take on this. This year, IRA RMD’s have been waived, even for inherited IRA’s. That said, if a non-spouse inherits an IRA this year – and the new RMD rules dictate a 10-year withdrawal – but this year’s RMD is waived – does this year (2020) still count as year 1?

Beneficiary Form Basics

An argument could be made that the easiest financial document to complete is the IRA beneficiary form. Yet somehow this basic information consistently gets overlooked, mishandled, lost or fouled up. It’s not rocket science. Don’t complicate things. Keep it simple if you can. Case in point: an attorney drafted a fancy addendum to a beneficiary form with all the necessary legalese and important letterhead and flourishing signatures.

WHAT’S A TOP HAT PLAN?

Think of a top hat, and you’ll likely conjure up images of Franklin Delano Roosevelt or the temporarily-deceased Mr. Peanut or Rich Uncle Moneybags from Monopoly. But a “top hat plan” is also the informal name of a type of section 457(b) plan for management employees (hence the name “top hat”) of private tax-exempt companies such as hospitals. A top hat plan is different from the more common type of 457(b) plan for state and local government workers.
 

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