Inherited IRA funds not considered ‘retirement funds’

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The Supreme Court of the United States unanimously held Thursday that funds contained in an inherited individual retirement account do not qualify as “retirement funds” within the meaning of a bankruptcy exemption.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the opinion for the court, which affirmed the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. She noted three legal characteristics of inherited IRAs led the court to conclude the funds held in such accounts are not objectively set aside for purposes of retirement.

“First, the holder of an inherited IRA may never invest additional money in the account. Inherited IRAs are thus unlike traditional and Roth IRAs, both of which are quintessential ‘retirement funds.” She wrote. “Second, holders of inherited IRAs are required to withdraw money from such accounts, no matter how many years they may be from retirement. … Finally, the holder of an inherited IRA may withdraw the entire balance of the account at any time – and for any purpose – without penalty.”

The decision comes in Clark v. Rameker, 13-299, in which an IRA was inherited by a daughter who later filed for bankruptcy. Heidi Heffron-Clark argued the inherited IRA was still a retirement fund, and therefore, was exempt from creditors under Section 522 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The 7th Circuit held that when an IRA was inherited by someone other than the owner’s spouse, it was no longer exempt from creditor’s claims.

Sotomayor also noted that the possibility that some investors may use their inherited IRAs for retirement purposes does not mean that the inherited IRAs bear the defining legal characteristics of retirement funds.

“Were it any other way, money in an ordinary checking account (or, for that matter, an envelope of $20 bills) would also amount to ‘retirement funds’ because it is possible for an owner to use those funds for retirement,” she wrote.



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues