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Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)/IRA distribution after death


Is it allowed to take a full distribution from an IRA during the same year that a person passes away (after the person passes away)?  I ask this because my 85 year old mother had a small IRA (~$9000) that was all pre-tax contributions.  She has been taking the RMDs since she turned 70-1/2.  For the last few years, her total income has been so low, that while she has shown the distribution when she filed her taxes, she has had no tax liability in recent years.  She passed away in early January 2016 and I understand that since she was alive for part of 2016, the RMD (~$700)from the IRA is still required for 2016 and that will be taxable (but again, I anticipate her income for 2016 will be so low that she will not owe any taxes).  Even if the entire ~$9000 IRA were distributed, it does not appear that she would owe any income tax, so we are wondering if it would be allowed for her (or on her behalf) to take full distribution of the IRA.  Her 5 children were named as beneficiaries (20% each)on the IRA.  All of her other assets are in a trust and all 5 children are named there as well, but not equally.  Would it be allowed for the Personal Representative or Successor Trustee to request/authorize a full distribution of the IRA, so that the tax burden falls on her (or her estate)?  Again, expecting that no tax will be owed.  If it is not distributed (if that is the right term), then I guess the IRA (less the 2016 RMD)will go to the benficiaries to either be rolled over to their own personal IRAs to defer the tax, or be taken as a distribution (and I'm sure each beneficiary's income level will make it taxable for each one).  Thank you.


Thanks for your question.

You cannot take a distribution on her behalf from the IRA after her death. Any RMD after death is based on the ages of the beneficiaries. An entire distribution can be made, but it must be credited to the beneficiaries, not to your mother.

The tax liability is on the beneficiaries not your Mother.

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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