Q. When my father died, I received an inherited IRA. I don’t need the money and I’d like to find a way to pass it to my two kids with all the tax-free growth. How can I do that? — Doing well for myself
A. It’s very generous of you to want to pass this inherited IRA to your kids.
Whether or not you can depends on whether or not you’ve actually taken possession of the money,
N.J.S.A. 3B:9-2, which is part of the New Jersey Probate Code, allows beneficiaries to refuse to accept their inheritance by “disclaiming,” said Nancy Heslin Reading, an estate planning attorney with Benz & Reading in Newton.
“The disclaimer is a written document in which the beneficiary identifies the asset he or she does not want to inherit, disclaims it, and then signs in the presence of a notary,” Reading said.
She said disclaimers are typically filed with the surrogate, and they must be filed within nine months of the date of death of the owner of the asset being disclaimed.
She said the legal effect of a disclaimer is the same as if the person disclaiming the asset had predeceased the person who left it to him.
“A disclaimant cannot say, `I’m disclaiming because I want my brother to get it,’” she said. “The disclaimant has no control over where the asset goes.”
If you want this money to go to your children, you may not have that option. It will depend on the language in the will, Reading said.
“If there is no will, then the intestacy statute would control, N.J.S.A. 3B:5.1-14.1,” she said.
If you’ve already taken possession of the IRA and you want to make sure it goes to your children someday, speak with your estate planning team and review all your options.
Also note that you mentioned tax-free growth. Unless this was a Roth, while the funds will grow tax-deferred in the account, your eventual withdrawals — and you’ll have to take Required Minimum Distributions — will be taxed.
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