The Required Minimum Distributions rules require that the final beneficiary for an IRA be determined no later than September 30 of the year after the year of the original accountholder’s death. This means that you have until that date to disclaim (forfeit your legal right to) an IRA for which your deceased spouse named you the sole beneficiary. In that case, the account would generally pass to the secondary beneficiary (often your child/ren). This decision is usually driven by an estate tax plan derived to minimize and/or delay taxes.
Your Spouse’s Estate is the Beneficiary of the IRA
When your spouse’s estate is the designated beneficiary of the IRA and you are the estate’s sole beneficiary and you are also the estate’s executor/executrix, you are permitted to transfer the funds into an IRA account in your name. Then, you will be able to follow the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) rules for spousal inheritors. See the following: