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How to Use a Self Directed Roth IRA to Plan Your Estate

In addition to the significant tax benefits in using a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC to make investments, the Roth IRA also offers a number of very exciting estate planning opportunities.

In general, a self-directed Roth IRA is an after-tax account that allows the Roth IRA holder to benefit from tax-free investment growth, so long as a Roth IRA distribution is not taken prior to a five year holding period and the Roth IRA holder is not under the age of 59½ ( a “qualified distribution”). In addition, a Roth IRA holder would not be subject to the required minimum distribution rules (“RMD”).

With IRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC Estate Planning Solution, your family could receive tax-free use of your Roth IRA funds. Converting a pre-tax IRA to a Roth IRA could be used as a very valuable estate-planning tool for estate owner’s that would be subject to the estate tax (For 2015 – estates over $5,430,000) as the Roth conversion funds would be paid out of funds subject to estate tax.

Estate Tax Basics

In general, an IRA, whether a traditional or a Roth, is included in the owner’s gross estate. You can’t avoid that. But when a traditional IRA is inherited, the beneficiary must include all distributions in gross income just as the original owner would have. The distributions are taxed at the beneficiary’s ordinary income tax rate. The beneficiary is able to stretch out the distributions over his or her life expectancy, but annual distributions are required and will be taxed. Hence, when passing a Traditional IRA to a spouse or child, the beneficiary is required to pay ordinary income tax on the IRA distribution amount, which would reduce the amount of Traditional IRA funds available to spend.

Converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA – Estate Planning Benefits

In a conversion of a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, the IRA converted amount is as though it were taken as a distribution. So, hence, you would be subject to ordinary income taxes on the converted amount. Note: there is no restriction on the amount of IRA funds that can be converted at one time.

The first estate tax benefit of a Roth IRA conversion is that the Roth IRA holder’s estate would be reduced by the income taxes paid on the amount of the Roth IRA conversion. There are several estate planning benefits to paying tax on the Roth conversion while you are alive.

  • Turning Taxable Distributions into Tax-Free Distributions: Doing a Roth IRA conversion is in effect paying the taxes on the IRA funds for your heirs. They would have owed the taxes in the future when they were required to take a distribution from the inherited IRA. Instead, the Roth IRA holder would be paying the tax now, out of his/her taxable estate, and avoid estate and gift taxes on that amount. Thereafter, when your beneficiary would take a distribution from the inherited Roth IRA, those Roth IRA distributions would be tax-free.
  • Pay Tax & Reduce Estate Taxes: Paying the taxes now reduces the size of your estate and any estate tax bill. This isn’t a factor for estates below the taxable level, but it could be important for taxable estates.
  • Lifetime of Tax Benefits : A Roth IRA conversion can provide lifetime income tax benefits to the Roth IRA holder and it can also benefit your beneficiaries. When you maintain a traditional IRA, after age 70½ you’re required to take minimum annual distributions, which would be subject to income tax. If it turned out that you didn’t need this money for spending or living purposes, it simply increases the taxes you would be required to pay. In addition, being required to take a Traditional IRA distribution could increase your income enough to push you into a higher tax bracket, reduce itemized deductions, increase taxes on Social Security benefits, and have other effects. The older you become, the higher the required distributions and taxes become. With a Roth IRA, you or your beneficiaries could benefit from tax-free appreciation of the Roth IRA assets as well as generating tax-free income to live off.
  • Tax-Free Growth & Tax-Free Income . Once the Traditional IRA has been converted to a Roth IRA, the Roth IRA holder and his or her beneficiaries would be able to benefit from tax-free growth and income generated by the Roth IRA. In other words, the assets of the Roth IRA will be able to grow tax-free and all “qualified distributions” from the Roth IRA would be tax-free allowing the Roth IRA holder or his or her beneficiaries to live off the Roth IRA funds without ever having to pay tax on the income.
  • Take Advantage of Historical Low Tax Rates: Even though a lot has been made of the increasing Obamacare tax rates, our current income tax rates are still at historical lows. Therefore, it is conceivable that income tax rates will rise in the future especially with the high levels of debt that is being used by the Government to stimulate the economy. Doing a Roth IRA conversion now versus later could potentially be a tax savvy decision if the Roth IRA grows at a respectful rate and if tax rates increase. Having a Roth IRA to use or offer to your beneficiaries in a high tax environment will prove to be extremely tax beneficial.

The Self-Directed Roth Stretch IRA

Unlike the original Roth IRA owner, a non-spousal beneficiary of a Roth IRA is required to take minimum distributions over his or her life expectancy. Note: a spousal beneficiary of a Roth IRA is not required to take a Roth IRA distribution.

In the case of a non-spousal Roth IRA beneficiary, when the beneficiary is relatively young, there is the potential for the distributions to be less than the annual earnings of the Roth IRA, so the Roth IRA grows while the distributions are being taken. Of course, the beneficiary can take more than the minimum, even the entire Roth IRA, at any time tax-free. In other words, using a Self-Directed Roth Stretch IRA will allow an individual to transfer tax-free assets to children or other beneficiaries and allow those individuals to benefit from tax-free income while the Roth IRA contributes to grow tax-free.

To learn more about the estate tax benefits of having a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, please contact a tax professional at 800-472-0646.

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