Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)/inherited IRA


QUESTION: My mother is 82 and has designed me as the beneficiary of her IRA, with the understanding that it will be "shared" among her 4 children upon her death.  It is my understanding, however, that an IRA cannot be split among 4 people.  Before she dies, should I have her change the beneficiary to all 4 children?  Is this something that is allowed?  By doing so, upon her death, would we each then have an IRA worth approx. 1/4 of it's value?
Thank you.

ANSWER: Diane,

Thanks for your question.

Technically, that is correct. What you would have to do would be to cash out the IRA and distribute the funds.  But since you inherited it, the taxes on the withdrawals would be your liability. Of course, you distribute the amounts to your siblings net of the estimate tax effect.

It would be simpler if she just named all four of you as equal beneficiaries.

Hope this helps.

John Stancil, CPA

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi John:  Thank you for your prompt response.  Another question:  If we left me as the sole beneficiary, would I need to have attained a certain age before I can cash it out?


There is not an easy answer to that.  The quick answer is that as a non-spousal beneficiary you must start taking distributions in the year after death of the owner.  The RMD is based on your age.  You do have the option to withdraw the entire amount within 5 years.  There is no 10% penalty for withdrawal from an inherited IRA but you must pay tax on it.

If there are multiple beneficiaries, the RMD is based on the oldest beneficiary.  This link is a pretty good explanation of the details of an inherited IRA.

Hope this helps.

John Stancil, CPA

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John Stancil, CPA


I can answer questions on personal income taxes, partnerships, and some corporate income taxes. I can deal with some state tax questions. Limited gift and estate tax questions. I am also familiar with ministerial and church tax reporting issues. I am Professor Emeritus at Florida Southern College. Sales taxes and property taxes are state and local issues so I am not likely be be able to give you an in depth answer on those types of taxes. I have maintained a CPA practice, specializing in tax, for over 35 years. I am a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals, The Florida Insititute of CPA's, The NCPE Fellowship. In addition I am a Certified Mentor for SCORE. Visit my website at I also offer seminars and consultations to churches and clergy on their tax issues at Also visit my blog, I am listed on Tax Connections at Prepare and file your own taxes at


I hold a doctorate in Accounting, and am a CPA. My certifications of CIA, CFM, and CMA are inactive. I passed all certification examinations on the first attempt, and received honorable mention for my scores on the CIA exam. I have operated a CPA firm for over 37 years and have taught accounting and tax at the college level for over 35 years.

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DBA University of Memphis MBA University of Georgia BS in Accounting Mars Hill University

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