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How do I close an IRA of a deceased family member?

Midland, TX |

My wifes mother passed away and had an IRA that the bank (Bank of America) refuses to close. What do we need to do to get the account closed? Do we need a lawyer? Do we need to pay any fees for a withdrawal she made on the account before she died?

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Attorney answers 3


Assuming there are still funds left in the account, who is the designated beneficiary? The beneficiary will be the only person that the custodian will deal with. If she did not designate a beneficiary, then it is likely that the account is payable to her estate, and you will have to discuss the probate or intestate options with an experienced probate attorney in the county where she passed away.

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You would do well to speak to an attorney who is knowledgeable in both estates and tax who can advise you how best to deal with the IRA. Depending on how much is in the IRA, significant tax consequences could arise even if BOA does agree to just close the IRA.

THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. The answer to question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation. Mrs. Cook is licensed to practice law throughout the state of California with offices in San Diego County. She is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States, and is also licensed to practice before the United States Tax Court. IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, please be advised that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used or relied upon, and cannot be used or relied upon, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.


If there is a designated beneficiary (or multiple), that person should close the account by transferring the funds (and they have certain options on how to do that in the best manner for tax and investment purposes). If there is no beneficiary the IRA may go to her estate, which is a bigger job but the funds would then go to the beneficiaries of her will or her heirs at law. If she made a withdrawal from her IRA, she likely has income tax to pay for the year the distributions/withdrawals were made. Dealing with IRAs and taxation of IRAs can be difficult so hire an attorney or a CPA at the least.

This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website:

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