What Happens if an IRA or 401k is Payable to the Estate Trust?

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Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401Ks should almost never be paid to an estate or trust because of how the IRS will tax the beneficiaries. Find out what to do when an IRA or 401K is payable to an estate trust from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

If a retirement account is payable to an estate, or to a trust, different things happen. IRA's should never be paid to an estate, and frankly, with the new rules that have just come out, 401K's, probably should never be paid to an estate, either. An estate means, your will, and the IRS in their wisdom, which frankly, this is not too wise, has said, if an IRA is payable to an estate, then the money has to come out of that IRA, fairly rapidly. Certainly within five years, maybe even a shorter period of time, if the person who's IRA it was, was old. If however, it's payable to a trust, and if, and this is a huge if, and if the trust is relatively recent, and was done by a highly qualified lawyer. Then what can happen is, is the IRA money can come in. The 401K money may be able to come in, and the beneficiaries of the trust, can take the distributions out, over a very long period of time, over their remaining life expectancy, so if I leave my IRA to my twenty year old son, and my twenty year old son has a life expectancy, of let's say, sixty five years. Then, he can take those distributions out, over a long period of time, over sixty five years. This year, he can take one sixty fifth. Next year, one sixty fourth. If however, I made my estate, he'd have to take all the money out in five years. Not a good thing, because it's all subject to tax, when you take it out.

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