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Melissa Phipps

Inheriting an IRA or 401(k)

By January 31, 2014

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I had a talk with a friend the other day, who admitted that his own retirement plan hinged on inheriting his mother's retirement plan. He's necessarily proud of this, he said, but he's sure he's not the only person counting on an inheritance to get them through. I know a lot of folks who have phantom inheritance money earmarked for the kids' college, debt relief, and so on.

The idea of counting on an inheritance is a risky one, to me. I prefer to think of any potential inheritance as a bonus. But it got me thinking, many inheritances today are probably coming from retirement funds, such as 401(k)s and IRAs. That got me thinking, what happens when you inherit a retirement account? What do you do with it? What are your options?

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