So in terms of pro-rata taxes (due to the pre-tax money in the inherited IRA), I have been reading that the inherited IRA has no affect and the ROTH conversion is a tax-free event as long as he has no other traditional, simple, SEP IRAs, etc.
A. Nope. You cannot convert a non-spousal, inherited IRA to a Roth account. The only time that you can do this is if you were the spouse of the IRA owner, said Jeanne Kane, a financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton.
If you already have an IRA, you can roll over the inherited assets to another traditional IRA in your name or convert the assets to a Roth IRA. The simplest way to do that is through a direct, trustee-to-trustee transfer from one account to the other or between one IRA custodian and another.
The SECURE Act could make a Roth IRA conversion strategy more appealing to individuals who plan on leaving a significant inheritance to heirs and want to limit the future tax liability on those assets. This conversion is allowed by the IRS within 60 days of a distribution from the IRA.
Treat the IRA as if it were your own, naming yourself as the owner. Treat the IRA as if it were your own by rolling it over into another account, such as another IRA or a qualified employer plan, including 403(b) plans. Treat yourself as the beneficiary of the plan.
For IRAs inherited from original owners who have passed away on or after January 1, 2020, the new law requires many beneficiaries to withdraw all assets from an inherited IRA or 401(k) plan within 10 years following the death of the account holder.
Funds withdrawn from an inherited Roth IRA are generally tax-free if they are considered qualified distributions. That means the funds have been in the account for at least five years, including the time the original owner of the account was alive.
Following the passage of the SECURE Act, the general consensus in the planning community has been that with beneficiaries subject to the so-called 10-year rule, the law requires the funds to be exhausted within 10 years of the year following the participant's death.
The 5-year rule requires the IRA beneficiaries who are not taking life expectancy payments to withdraw the entire balance of the IRA by December 31 of the year containing the fifth anniversary of the owner's death.
Under the SECURE Act rules, most non-spouse beneficiaries must deplete an inherited Roth IRA within 10 years of the original owner's death, if that occurred in 2020 or later. If you inherit a Roth IRA from a spouse, you can treat the account as your own or stretch distributions over your lifetime.
For an inherited IRA received from a decedent who passed away after December 31, 2019: Generally, a designated beneficiary is required to liquidate the account by the end of the 10th year following the year of death of the IRA owner (this is known as the 10-year rule).
Roth contributions are made with after-tax money, and any distributions that you take are tax free as long as you are at least 59½ years old and have had a Roth IRA account for at least five years. Your beneficiaries can continue to enjoy this tax-free status for a period of time after they inherit the account.
Whenever an IRA owner dies before the account is fully depleted, the IRA will pass to whoever the owner named as beneficiary of the account. And unless that beneficiary was the original IRA owner's spouse, the IRA will become an Inherited IRA.
Conventional wisdom suggests that inheriting a Roth IRA is always better than inheriting a traditional IRA. In the case of the former, the distributions are tax-free and in the case of the latter, distributions are taxed as ordinary income.
The tactic was ended by the SECURE Act of 2019, which mandated that inherited IRAs be emptied within 10 years after the death of the original account holder, regardless of the beneficiary's age.
Death and the Traditional IRA
However, distributions from an inherited traditional IRA are taxable. This is referred to as “income in respect of a decedent.” That means if the owner would have paid tax, the income is taxable to the beneficiary.
If the original account owner died on or after January 1, 2020, in most cases you will need to fully distribute your account within 10 years following the death of the original owner. However, there are exceptions if you are considered an eligible designated beneficiary.
For this and other reasons, a lump-sum distribution is generally not regarded as the best way to distribute funds from an inherited IRA or plan. Other options for taking post-death distributions will typically provide more favorable tax treatment and other advantages.
While inherited IRA rules are many and varied, there are two big takeaways: You can't make additional contributions to them. You can manage inherited IRAs – change the investments, buy and sell different assets – but additional deposits are not allowed. You have to withdraw money from them.
Unless you're a spouse, when you inherit a retirement account, your usual best option is to transfer the money into an Inherited IRA. Inherited IRAs continue to grow tax-deferred until withdrawals are made. Taxes on withdrawals are treated the same as the original IRA account.
By leaving the funds in the Inherited IRA, the account will continue to grow tax-free as you will not have to pay taxes when the funds are distributed from a Roth IRA.
Each conversion has its own five-year period. For instance, if you converted your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2018, the five-year period for those converted assets began Jan. 1, 2018. If you later convert other traditional IRA assets to a Roth IRA in 2019, the five-year period for those assets begins Jan.
The final 5-year rule applies to inherited Roth IRAs. Roth IRA beneficiaries can withdraw contributions from an inherited Roth account at any time (in fact, they're required to). But to withdraw earnings tax-free, the account must have been open for at least five years when the original account-holder died.
If you inherit a Roth IRA as a spouse—and you're the sole beneficiary—you have the option to treat the account as your own. Some beneficiaries have the option to stretch out the distributions over a period of 10 years, which can offer significant tax benefits.