Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

You are viewing Rule of Thumb

How to Reduce the Pain of a Required Minimum Distribution

When the government enacted legislation that allowed individuals to fund a Traditional IRA with tax-deferred income, those legislators also wanted to ensure that the taxes would eventually be paid. The concept was to defer income taxes until the time the money may be needed for retirement.

To ensure that the deferred taxes would eventually be paid back during the saver’s lifetime, a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) of the balance commences when the individual turns 70 ½. The first year’s RMD is approximately 4% of the total of all tax-deferred IRA balances. Following that, the RMD percentage increases each year during retirement. The penalty for not withdrawing the RMD can result in a substantial penalty of 50% of the shortfall.

Below are a few strategies to consider that could help to reduce the pain of an RMD:

Plan Ahead

Individuals who will continue to accumulate substantial income from pensions and other sources can consider withdrawing portions of their IRA soon after age 59 ½, but only to the extent that the withdrawals do not force a higher tax bracket.

Defer Social Security

In some cases, deferring Social Security until 70 while using your IRA if needed up to that time can yield dual benefits. The RMD reduces while maximizing the Social Security benefits that increase each year that starting payments are deferred.

Conversion to Roth IRA

Converting portions of your existing traditional IRA into Roth IRAs before age 70.5 will allow the balance to continue to grow tax-free. Though taxes must be paid at the time of the conversion, subsequent withdrawals from the Roth IRA will be non-taxable.

Charitable Donations

Donating an amount equal to the RMD to qualified charities will offset the calculation of the taxable income.

Reinvesting into an Investment Account

One of the more popular strategies is to take the RMD, pay the taxes and reinvest the rest into a brokerage account.  Investors can keep their money working for them.

Contact us if you’re interested in discussing any of these strategies.

When Clients Spend Through Their Savings

A reporter from Financial Planning Magazine, recently posed a question to several financial advisors asking:

“What happens when an elderly retired client runs out of money?”

Below is my response, which was included in the article:



Michael Lecours, an advisor at Ohanesian/Lecours in West Hartford, Conn., says the time to address the issue of running out of money with retirees is when they start increasing withdrawal rates from their savings.

“We can see the writing on the wall five to 10 years away,” Lecours says. “After a conversation, most clients recognize the issue and find ways to reduce their expenses. They make plans to downsize, move in with a family member, or scale back on their lifestyle.”



Are You Saving Enough For Retirement?

Last week, a chart was circulating the internet helping to illustrate how much you should have saved for retirement based on your age (See Below).

Like many rules of thumb, it can serve as a guide but it lacks several key assumptions. It doesn’t factor in pensions, annuities or real estate. The biggest flaw deals with a term called replacement income, this chart assumes that you will be able to live off of about 80% of your pre-retirement income. You would only know that if you dug into the research that is mentioned in the footnotes.

And in our experience, how much income a retiree needs to live on each year varies greatly.

This chart is probably most helpful for younger savers (50 years and less) and who do not expect much in the way of a pension and have no idea what their retirement income needs will be.