The Advantages of Paying an IRA through a Trust

by | Feb 16, 2024 | trusts

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are valuable assets that individuals use to save for retirement and secure their financial futures. However, when it comes to estate planning, paying an IRA through a trust can offer significant advantages that help protect and maximize the benefits of these assets for both the account holder and their beneficiaries.

What is an IRA Trust?

An IRA trust, also known as an IRA trusteed trust or a standalone retirement trust, is a type of trust specifically designed to hold and distribute IRA assets upon the death of the account holder. Instead of directly naming individuals as beneficiaries of the IRA, the account holder designates the trust as the beneficiary of the IRA. The trust then governs how the IRA assets are distributed to beneficiaries, providing added control, protection, and flexibility.

Advantages of Paying an IRA through a Trust


Control Over Asset Distribution: One of the primary advantages of paying an IRA through a trust is the ability to exert control over how the IRA assets are distributed to beneficiaries. The trust document can specify conditions for distribution, such as age-based distributions, staggered distributions over time, or distributions based on specific needs or circumstances of beneficiaries.


This allows the account holder to ensure that their IRA assets are managed and distributed in accordance with their wishes, even after their death.


Asset Protection: By paying an IRA through a trust, the account holder can provide added asset protection for beneficiaries. The trust can include provisions to protect IRA assets from creditors, lawsuits, and potential divorce settlements of beneficiaries.


This can be particularly important for beneficiaries who may be vulnerable to financial liabilities or who need ongoing financial support, such as minor children or individuals with special needs.


Tax Efficiency: IRA trusts can offer tax efficiency for beneficiaries, especially if the trust is structured as a “stretch” or “conduit” trust. Under these arrangements, IRA distributions are stretched out over the term imposed by the Secure Act, or ten (10) years, allowing for continued tax-deferred growth of the IRA assets.


This can result in significant tax savings compared to lump-sum distributions or distributions to individual beneficiaries who may be subject to higher tax rates.


Protection Against Spendthrift Behavior: For beneficiaries who may have difficulty managing money or who are at risk of making poor financial decisions, an IRA trust can provide protection against spendthrift behavior.


The trust can include provisions to restrict or control access to IRA assets, ensuring that beneficiaries receive ongoing financial support while safeguarding the assets for their long-term benefit.


Privacy and Avoidance of Probate: By paying an IRA through a trust, the account holder can maintain privacy and avoid the probate process. Unlike assets that pass through a will, IRA assets held in a trust are not subject to probate, which means that the distribution of IRA assets can be kept private and does not become a matter of public record.


Paying an IRA through a trust offers numerous advantages for account holders and their beneficiaries, including control over asset distribution, asset protection, tax efficiency, protection against spendthrift behavior, and privacy.

Determining if an IRA Trust is Right for You

Deciding whether an IRA trust is the right choice for your estate plan requires careful consideration of your individual circumstances, financial goals, and estate planning objectives. Here are some key factors to consider when determining if an IRA trust is right for you:

Complexity of Estate

If your estate is relatively simple and straightforward, with few assets and beneficiaries, an IRA trust may not be necessary. However, if you have significant assets, multiple beneficiaries, minor beneficiaries, or specific distribution goals, an IRA trust can provide added control and flexibility over the distribution of your IRA assets.

Desire for Control

Do you want to exert control over how your IRA assets are distributed to beneficiaries after your death? If you have specific wishes regarding the timing, conditions, or purposes of distributions, an IRA trust allows you to specify these details in the trust document. This can be especially important if you have beneficiaries with varying financial needs or circumstances.

Asset Protection

Are you concerned about protecting your IRA assets from creditors, lawsuits, or potential divorce settlements of beneficiaries? By paying your IRA through a trust, you can provide added asset protection for beneficiaries, ensuring that the assets are used for their intended purpose and are not vulnerable to outside claims.

Tax Considerations

Consider the tax implications of leaving your IRA assets to beneficiaries. Depending on the type of trust and distribution provisions, an IRA trust can offer tax advantages for beneficiaries, such as stretching out distributions over their lifetimes to minimize taxes. If tax efficiency is a priority for you and your beneficiaries, an IRA trust may be worth considering.

Beneficiary Circumstances

Take into account the circumstances and needs of your beneficiaries. If you have beneficiaries who are minors, individuals with special needs, or who may be financially irresponsible, an IRA trust can provide added protection and support for their long-term benefit.

Desire for Privacy

Do you value privacy and wish to avoid the probate process? Assets held in an IRA trust bypass probate and are distributed directly to beneficiaries according to the trust document, providing a higher level of privacy and avoiding the public scrutiny associated with probate proceedings.

Consultation with Professionals

Finally, consult with experienced estate planning attorneys, financial advisors, and tax professionals who can assess your individual needs and goals and provide guidance on whether an IRA trust is the right choice for you. They can help you understand the potential benefits and implications of an IRA trust and tailor it to meet your specific estate planning objectives.

Schedule an Initial Consultation with a Professional at Galanti & Copenhaver

Ready to explore if an IRA trust is the right choice for your estate plan? Consult with the experienced attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver to discuss your individual circumstances and determine the best approach to protect your IRA assets and provide for your beneficiaries. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards securing your financial future and achieving your estate planning goals.