In recent years, significant changes have reshaped the landscape of inherited Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and defined contribution plans. The implementation of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act in 2019 introduced alterations that have implications for beneficiaries and their required minimum distributions (RMDs). Among these changes is the elimination of the “stretch IRA,” affecting how heirs can manage and distribute inherited retirement assets. To provide clarity amidst these shifts, the IRS has released guidance aimed at offering relief to taxpayers navigating the complexities of the 10-year rule for RMDs from inherited IRAs or similar accounts.

Understanding the 10-Year Rule:

Prior to the SECURE Act, beneficiaries of inherited IRAs enjoyed the flexibility of stretching RMDs over their entire life expectancies. This arrangement allowed for smaller distributions over a more extended period, enabling tax deferral and potential growth of the account. Moreover, it provided the option for heirs to pass on the IRA to subsequent generations, further prolonging the tax-deferred status.

However, the SECURE Act altered this landscape by imposing limitations on who can utilize the stretch IRA strategy. For individuals who passed away in 2020 or later, only “eligible designated beneficiaries” (EDB) have the privilege of stretching payments over their life expectancies. EDBs include surviving spouses, children below the age of majority, individuals with disabilities, chronically ill individuals, and those who are no more than 10 years younger than the account owner. Conversely, “designated beneficiaries” who do not fall under the EDB category are subject to the 10-year rule, requiring them to withdraw the entire balance of the inherited account within a decade of the original owner’s death, irrespective of the RMD’s required beginning date.

IRS Guidance and Relief:

In response to the complexities introduced by the SECURE Act, the IRS has issued guidance aimed at providing relief to taxpayers impacted by the 10-year rule. For the third consecutive year, the IRS has published directives offering some alleviation to affected individuals. Notice 2024-35 outlines the forthcoming final regulations for the rule, which will be applicable for determining RMDs from inherited IRAs and similar accounts in 2025.

This guidance serves to clarify the intricacies of the 10-year rule and assists taxpayers in navigating the evolving landscape of inherited retirement accounts. By understanding the eligibility criteria for EDBs and the implications of the 10-year rule for designated beneficiaries, individuals can make informed decisions regarding the management and distribution of inherited IRAs.


The evolution of inherited IRA rules, particularly the implementation of the SECURE Act and the introduction of the 10-year rule, has prompted beneficiaries to reconsider their strategies for managing inherited retirement assets. While the elimination of the stretch IRA presents challenges for designated beneficiaries, recent IRS guidance offers relief and clarity in navigating these changes. By staying informed about the eligibility criteria for EDBs and understanding the implications of the 10-year rule, taxpayers can make prudent decisions to optimize the management and distribution of inherited IRAs and defined contribution plans.

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