How to Inherit an IRA

For many, the most special person in their lives is their spouse. The tax code treats spouses in unique ways by granting them abilities unavailable to others. Inheriting an IRA is one of those times.

Your spouse has options when inheriting your IRA. Here they are:

The most often used spouses-only option is the ability to roll the IRA into their own name. This makes things very simple for the surviving spouse. By rolling into their own name, they call all the shots and the funds are treated as if they had always been in the spouse’s name.

Most surviving spouses do this reflexively as the default. It feels like a no-brainer.

However, there are circumstances in which other options should be considered. Three that we see a lot are a surviving spouse who is older than the deceased spouse, a surviving spouse who is under 59 ½ years old and a surviving spouse in a high marginal income tax bracket.

When the survivor is older than the deceased and rolls the IRA into their own name, the IRA is treated as if it were always the survivor’s so Required Minimum Distributions are based on the survivor’s higher age. RMDs will be larger if they had already begun or will start sooner if they had not already begun.

This can be addressed by taking the deceased’s IRA as an inherited IRA. The IRA stays in the deceased’s name and the surviving spouse is referred to in the title with wording like “spousal beneficiary”. RMDs will then be based upon the deceased’s birthdate and the Single Life table unless and until the funds are rolled into an IRA just in the surviving spouse’s name.

When it comes to retirement, 60s are the new 50s
When the survivor is under 59 ½ and rolls the IRA into their own name, the IRA is treated as if it were always the survivor’s so distributions could be subject to the 10% early distribution penalty. This too can be addressed by taking the deceased’s IRA as an inherited IRA. The survivor will be able to take distributions at will, pay the applicable taxes but avoid the 10% penalty. Once the survivor reaches 59 ½, they can roll the deceased’s IRA into their own IRA if they wish.

A surviving spouse in a high-income tax bracket with no need for the taxable income that comes from the IRA may prefer that lower income family members inherit the IRA money instead. The surviving spouse can disclaim their interest. The disclaiming spouse does not get to decide how the funds are distributed. The funds flow to the contingent beneficiaries as though the disclaiming spouse pre-deceased the original IRA owner. Anyone interested in disclaiming should consult a qualified attorney.

If you have questions about your IRA or an inherited IRA, please contact us today. 817.638.9016.

Highlights of the New Republican Tax Plan

If you’re like me, you probably spent your Thursday night pouring over the new Republican tax plan . . . right? At 429 pages, you’d be crazy not to take the chance to read some good ol’ fashioned tax law. I for one really enjoyed the pictures they included around page 275.

Ok Ok . . . you got me. I watched my Spurs get beat up by the Warriors on TV until switching over to the delightful new crime drama, “S.W.A.T.” on CBS. I sometimes like to think of myself like the Shemar Moore of Estate Planning Attorneys, but I digress.

Here are the things you need to know about the GOP tax plan thanks to a wonderful summary from Caitlin Owens on AXIOS:

  • the 39.6% tax rate for couples with over 1 million in income remains the same
  • the tax plan caps the mortgage interest deduction for newly purchased homes at $500,000 (down from $1 million)
  • the plan also allows only $10,000 of property tax to be deducted
  • the plan increases the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples.

Worried about individual tax brackets? Here they are:

  • Individual tax rate brackets:
    • 25 percent rate starting at $90,000 for married couples, $45,000 for individuals (everyone below that pays a 12 percent rate).
    • 35 percent rate starting at $260,000 for married couples, $200,000 for individuals.
    • 39.6 percent rate starting at $1 million for married couples, $500,000 for individuals.

Of not for those expecting or soon to be expecting:

  • The plan expands the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $1,600 and provides a credit of $300 for each parent and non-child dependent.
  • Makes no changes to deductions for charitable contributions.

Have student debt? Might want to read up on this next part:

  • The plan eliminates student loan and medical expense deductions and the adoption tax credit.

Haven’t contributed to your 401(k)? Shame! It’s ok, almost two-thirds (2/3) of Americans haven’t either. Start NOW!

  • The plan doesn’t change contribution rules for 401(k)s.

Now to the juicy part for Estate Planners:

  • The new plan doubles the estate tax exemption immediately (11 million per person) and repeals the tax in six years. Goodbye credit shelter trusts.

Feeling bold? Read the whole text of the Bill here.

As a caveat, none of this is set in stone, so expect major changes to these provisions in the next few months.

If you have questions about the plan and how the proposed changes might affect you and your family, give us a call at the Weaver Firm. 817.638.9016


What Trump’s Tax Plan Means for Texas Estate Planning

Attached, please find a timely article on the changes to the tax laws and how they might affect your Estate Planning.

Here are some highlights:

  • repeal of Estate Tax (death tax)
    • yes, the death tax is once again being threatened to within an inch of its life. While I doubt, the 5.5 million dollar exemption goes away, be on the lookout for changes in the future.
    • no mention of gift tax staying or going . . . limit is $14,000 a year per person still
  • cost basis at death is also strangely unmentioned. Perhaps you will keep a step-up in basis and perhaps not

Our advice:

  • update Power of Attorneys to allow for gifting powers
  • update Estate Planning documents for 2017 changes in language and law
  • keep investing wisely and saving so you can eventually take advantage of no Estate tax in the future!

Link to article:

Will President Trump Repeal the Death Tax? Probably Not.

Forbes recently published an updated look into the proposed GOP tax reform which, among other things, seeks to repeal and death tax. Currently set at 5.49 million per person (portability allows this to double), the estate tax only affects about one percent (1%) of the U.S. population. This new tax reform seeks to lower the highest tax rate as well as reduce the top tax rate on trade or business income. As with all tax reform proposals, take this one with a grain of salt.

If anything was to change regarding the estate tax or laws that might affect you, rest assured, that the Weaver Firm will let you know. Yet another reason to stay up to date on our latest legal tips. For even more information, join our newsletter here.