High-Balance IRAs: Estate and Income Tax Planning Strategies

Navigating the Unique Challenges of Large IRAs, Avoiding Double Taxation and Protecting IRA Assets

Recording of a 90-minute CLE/CPE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE/CPE course will provide estate planners with a deep dive into the planning challenges and opportunities that arise for clients with very high balance IRAs. The panel will discuss the specific issues with large IRAs, outline strategies for overall tax minimization and present options for post-mortem income tax planning for estates involving large IRAs.


High balance IRAs present special challenges for estate planners. Because of the intersection of income and estate tax rules, large IRAs can be subject to double taxation. The IRA is included in the deceased account holder’s taxable estate, and thus potentially can be taxed at the estate level. Payments to beneficiaries are also subject to income tax. For large balance IRAs, the tax consequences can be quite expensive without proper planning.

Proper planning for handling a large IRA is made more difficult by the convoluted and complex distribution rules—including rules on mandatory and minimum distributions—that are applicable to IRAs. As a result of these rules, for example, the planning opportunities and problems differ considerably depending upon whether distributions from the IRA have already begun and on whether the IRA owner has reached age 70½. Estate planners have significantly more options and greater flexibility in accomplishing tax savings if structures are put in place before distributions are taken from the IRA.

Estate planners need to know the fundamental strategies for post-mortem income tax planning involving high-balance IRAs. The critical goal in most plans is to preserve maximum flexibility for the beneficiaries after the death of the original IRA owner. Utilizing trusts and other vehicles to avoid leaving the IRA to the estate are valuable tools; however, without proper planning, the required distribution rules can restrict this flexibility.

Listen as our authoritative panel of practitioners guides you through the various challenges and opportunities that arise with large-balance IRAs. The panel will discuss the use of various trusts—including ILITs—conversions, and other strategies to preserve assets and flexibility for estates with large IRAs.



  1. Issues specific to high-balance IRAs
  2. Basic rules
  3. Income tax treatment
  4. Estate tax treatment
  5. Strategies


The panel will discuss these and other important topics:

  • What are the specific challenges unique to large-balance IRAs?
  • Trusts and other planning vehicles
  • Required distribution rules
  • Coordination between IRA plan documents and estate plan documents


Bigge, Stephen
Stephen J. Bigge, CPA

Keebler & Associates

Mr. Bigge focuses on developing comprehensive financial, estate and income tax analyses and wealth transfer techniques...  |  Read More

Tippett , Scott
Scott K. Tippett

The Tippett Law Firm

Mr. Tippett's practice focuses on wealth law, as a comprehensive and integrated approach to domestic and...  |  Read More

Access Anytime, Anywhere

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. CPE credit is not available on recordings. All formats include course handouts.

To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Video