Should You Leave Your IRA To A Child?

What you should know about naming a minor as an IRA beneficiary Can a child inherit an IRA? The answer is yes, though they cannot legally own the IRA and its invested assets.Until the child turns 18 (or 21, in some states), the inherited IRA is a custodial account, managed by an adult on behalf of the minor beneficiary.1,2


IRA owners who name minors as beneficiaries have good intentions. Their idea is to “stretch” a large Roth or traditional IRA. Distributions from the inherited IRA can be scheduled over the (long) expected lifetime of the young beneficiary, with the possibility that compounding will partly or fully offset them.2


Those good intentions may be disregarded, however. When minor IRA beneficiaries become legal adults, they have the right to do whatever they want with those IRA assets. If they want to drain the whole IRA to buy a Porsche or fund an ill-conceived start-up, they can.2


How can you have a say in what happens to the IRA assets? You could create a trust to serve as the IRA beneficiary, as an intermediate step before your heir takes possession of those assets as a young adult. 


In other words, you name a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA, and your child or grandchild as a beneficiary of the trust. When you have that trust in place, you have more control over what happens with the inherited IRA assets.2


The trust can dictate the how, what, and when of the income distribution. Perhaps you specify that your heir gets $10,000 annually from the trust beginning at age 30. Or, maybe you include language that mandates that your heir take distributions over their life expectancy. You can even stipulate what the money should be spent on and how it should be spent.2


A trust is not for everyone. The IRA needs to be large to warrant creating one, as the process of trust creation can cost several thousand dollars. No current-year tax break comes your way from implementing a trust, either.2


In lieu of setting up a trust, you could simply name an IRA custodian. In this case, the term “custodian” refers not to a giant investment company, but a person you know and have faith in who you authorize to make investing and distribution decisions for the IRA. One such person could be named as the custodian; another, as a successor custodian.2


What if you designate a minor as the beneficiary of your IRA, but fail to put a custodian in place? If there is no named custodian, or if your named custodian is unable to serve in that role, then a trip to court is in order. A parent of the child, or another party who wants guardianship over the IRA assets, will have to go to court and ask to be appointed as the IRA custodian.2


You should also recognize that the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act reshaped the “kiddie tax.” This is the federal tax on a minor’s net unearned income. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from inherited IRAs are subject to this tax. A minor’s net unearned income is now taxed at the same rate as trust income rather than at the parents’ marginal tax rate.3,4


This is a big change. Income tax brackets for a trust or a child under age 19 are now set much lower than the brackets for single or joint filers or heads of household. A 10% rate applies for the first $2,550 of taxable income, but a 24% rate plus $255 of tax applies at $2,551; a 35% rate plus $1,839 of tax, at $9,151; a 37% rate plus $3,011.50 of tax, at $12,501 and up.3,5


While this is a negative for middle-class families seeking to leave an IRA to a child, it may be a positive for wealthy families: the new kiddie tax rules may reduce the child’s tax liability when compared with the old rules.4


One last note: if you want to leave your IRA to a minor, check to see if the brokerage holding your IRA allows a child or a grandchild as an IRA beneficiary. Some brokerages do, while others do not.1


J. Cain Leonard may be reached at 704-735-7427 or cain@leonardwealth.net.leonardwealth.net

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Leonard Wealth Management are not affiliated companies. Neither the firm nor its agents or representatives may give tax or legal advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified professional for guidance before making any purchasing decisions.545100

Citations. 1 - investopedia.com/articles/retirement/09/minor-as-ira-beneficiary.asp [6/19/18] 2 - kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C000-S004-pass-an-ira-to-young-grandkids-with-care.html [5/17] 3 - forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2018/05/08/the-kiddie-tax-grows-up/ [5/8/18] 4 - tinyurl.com/y7bonwzx [5/31/18] 5 - forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/03/07/new-irs-announces-2018-tax-rates-standard-deductions-exemption-amounts-and-more/ [3/7/18]

312 E Water St.

Lincolnton, NC 28092

  • White LinkedIn Icon
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Twitter Icon
Send Us a Message

We are an independent financial services firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Leonard Wealth Management are not affiliated companies.

Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. None of the information contained on this website shall constitute an offer to sell or solicit any offer to buy a security or any insurance product.

Any references to [protection benefits, safety, security,  or steady and reliable income, etc] streams on this website refer only to fixed insurance products. They do not refer, in any way, to securities or investment advisory products. Annuity guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Annuities are insurance products that may be subject to fees, surrender charges and holding periods which vary by insurance company. Annuities are not FDIC insured. Leonard Wealth Management is not affiliated with the US government or any governmental agency.

The information and opinions contained in any of the material requested from this website are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. They are given for informational purposes only and are not a solicitation to buy or sell any of the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual's situation. #592506

© 2018-2020 by Leonard Wealth Management. Proudly created with Wix.com