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Who to See About IRA Advice?

Apr 26, 2005 | | Comments Comments Off

Q: I need help with deciding on where to take my 81-year-old mother to review her huge stack of IRAs and advise her on what to do with them. I have no clue on how to read them and neither does she.  Do I take her to a financial advisor? A tax pro?

A: You may need both if she hasn’t started tapping this money and it’s held in traditional IRAs instead of Roth IRAs.

That’s because withdrawals from traditional IRAs are supposed to start in the year after the taxpayer turns 70-1/2. Failure to do so incurs substantial penalties. If your mother hasn’t begun withdrawals, she’s going to want to consult a tax professional on the best way to make things right.

Once that’s done–or if she’s been making the proper withdrawals all along–it’s time to consult an objective financial planner with experience in advising people in retirement. (You can get referrals from the National Association of Financial Advisors at (888) FEE ONLY, among other sources.) How her money should be invested depends on her risk tolerance and objectives.

The planner will probably recommend streamlining all those accounts. There’s generally no need to have multiple traditional IRAs, and all those accounts make tracking her finances much more difficult. Besides, she may be paying fees that she could probably avoid by combining her accounts.

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