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You inherit an IRA — what to do and how not to mess up

No matter the account balance, an inherited individual retirement account is a generous gift — but it could also be a headache if a web of rules isn’t followed properly. The first thing beneficiaries of any age need to know is how the money must be distributed, and that largely depends on the relationship to the gifter. Spouses have three options, according to the Internal Revenue Service: They can name themselves as owner of the IRA and treat the account as their own; they may roll the assets into another account, such as a traditional IRA or qualified employer plan (where allowed); or they could continue to act as beneficiary of the account.

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