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By Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD
IRA Analyst

Question:

I am in the process of setting up a QTIP because my current wife (age 64) is not the mother of my 2 children (ages 41 and 38).  If I pre-decease, the IRA will go to my wife within the trust. When she passes and the IRA is inherited by my children, will the RMDs be based on my wife’s age when she passed or will they be based on the ages of my children?

Thanks

Mike

Answer:

Mike,

If the QTIP trust qualifies as a see-through trust, then RMDs to all beneficiaries would be based on the life expectancy for the oldest beneficiary; in this case your spouse. To qualify, the following four requirements must be met:

  1. The trust must be valid under state law;
  2. The trust must be irrevocable, or by its terms becomes irrevocable upon the death of the IRA owner;
  3. The trust beneficiaries are identifiable; and
  4. The trust document is provided to the IRA custodian by October 31st of the year after death.

However, keep in mind that your children (age 41 and 38) will have to use the life expectancy of your wife once you pass away. This is going to result in larger RMDs than if they were able to use their own life expectancy. Moreover, many of the special rules available to spousal beneficiaries could be lost by naming the trust as the IRA beneficiary. Finally, depending on the type of trust, your beneficiaries could be dealing with higher taxes simply because the highest tax bracket hits trust income at a much lower level than regular income (i.e., $12,750 for 2019). While a QTIP trust can be the right solution in certain circumstances, the decision to name a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA should factor in the issues discussed above.

Question:

All of the literature I have been able to read is somewhat unclear on the rule about contributing to a ‘regular’ IRA in the year a person reaches 70 1/2.  It states that no contributions may be made to a ‘regular’ IRA in the year a person reaches 70 1/2.  What is not clear is: (1) is this a ‘hard and fast’ rule, that absolutely no contributions can be made in that year?  or (2) does the 70 1/2 rule affect the ‘tax year’ that the person turns 70 1/2, as opposed to contributions to be made for a prior tax year?

Example: Reaching 70 1/2 in 2019; Owns an existing IRA account, opened several years ago

Issue:  Can the person contribute to the existing IRA for tax year 2018 during the ‘late/normal’ 2019 contribution period before 4/15/2019 (not including extensions)?

A reference to authority would be most appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

Tom

Answer:

Tom,

The age 70 ½ restriction applies on a tax year basis and is a hard-and-fast rule. See IRC Section 219(d)(1). That means if you reach age 70 ½ at any time during a taxable year, you cannot make a deductible traditional IRA contribution that applies to that year, regardless of what date you actually reach age 70 ½. However, and as your second question implies, the restriction only applies to contributions that relate to the year the individual reaches that age. It doesn’t prevent prior year contributions, assuming the taxpayer meets all other eligibility rules.

Example: Jacob was born on November 23, 1948. That means his 70th birthday was November 23, 2018. However, he doesn’t reach age 70 ½ until May 23, 2019. That means he cannot make any deductible contributions to his traditional IRA for the 2019 tax year. However, and provided that he follows the normal IRA contribution rules, Jacob can make a contribution before his 2019 tax filing due date (i.e., April 15, 2019) that applies to the 2018 taxable year.

https://www.irahelp.com/slottreport/inherited-iras-and-traditional-ira-contributions-todays-slott-report-mailbag