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Publication 590-A

What if You Inherit an IRA?(p17)

If you inherit a traditional IRA, you are called a beneficiary. A beneficiary can be any person or entity the owner chooses to receive the benefits of the IRA after he or she dies. Beneficiaries of a traditional IRA must include in their gross income any taxable distributions they receive.

Inherited from Spouse(p17)

If you inherit a traditional IRA from your spouse, you generally have the following three choices. You can:
  1. Treat it as your own IRA by designating yourself as the account owner.
  2. Treat it as your own by rolling it over into your IRA, or to the extent it is taxable, into a:
    1. Qualified employer plan,
    2. Qualified employee annuity plan (section 403(a) plan),
    3. Tax-sheltered annuity plan (section 403(b) plan),
    4. Deferred compensation plan of a state or local government (section 457 plan), or
  3. Treat yourself as the beneficiary rather than treating the IRA as your own.

Treating it as your own.(p21)

You will be considered to have chosen to treat the IRA as your own if: You will only be considered to have chosen to treat the IRA as your own if:
However, if you receive a distribution from your deceased spouse's IRA, you can roll that distribution over into your own IRA within the 60-day time limit, as long as the distribution is not a required distribution, even if you are not the sole beneficiary of your deceased spouse's IRA. For more information, see When Must You Withdraw Assets? (Required Minimum Distributions) in Publication 590-B for more information on required minimum distributions.

Inherited from Someone Other Than Spouse(p21)

If you inherit a traditional IRA from anyone other than your deceased spouse, you cannot treat the inherited IRA as your own. This means that you cannot make any contributions to the IRA. It also means you cannot roll over any amounts into or out of the inherited IRA. However, you can make a trustee-to-trustee transfer as long as the IRA into which amounts are being moved is set up and maintained in the name of the deceased IRA owner for the benefit of you as beneficiary. See Pub. 590-B for more information.
Like the original owner, you generally will not owe tax on the assets in the IRA until you receive distributions from it. You must begin receiving distributions from the IRA under the rules for distributions that apply to beneficiaries.

More information.(p21)

For more information about rollovers, required distributions, and inherited IRAs, see: