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Greetings, JWinthrop, and welcome. You asked:

Is it always better to spend after tax savings prior to taking IRA distributions ? This is assuming that minimium distributions are not posing a problem

Not necessarily. You would have to run some numbers for yourself based on your situation, but under today's tax laws the total family (as opposed to your individual) tax burden may be lessened by taking tax-deferred money first. Tax deferred assets will always be taxed at ordinary income tax rates regardless if they are paid by you or by your heirs. Taxable accounts could take advantage of lower capital gains rates, and heirs receive those assets free of income taxes. You have to do an analysis based on your situation to see what may be best for you and your family.

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