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Greetings, Mike, and welcome. You wrote:

<<I recently set up a Roth IRA for myself (I'm 26). After telling my mom a bit about it, she became interested in setting one up for herself (she is 59). She will not need the money any time soon, and actually said that she may not need it at all. It sounded to her like a good way to possibly grow some of the money she would plan on leaving to her heirs (I explained to her that it can be passed on tax-free to her heirs -- this is correct, no?).

Other variables: She earns about $55,000 per year, she has an annuity plan (through her work as a school teacher).

Does setting up a Roth for her make sense? If not, what other plan(s) would you recommend?

I assume she still has to wait 5 years to access the money, even though she is already 59 -- is this correct?>>

It sounds as if she's looking for a tool to leave the maximum amount for heirs as opposed to one from which to draw maximum income in retirement. Accordingly, and because she won't need the money soon or maybe not at all, a contributory Roth IRA is a great vehicle for her purposes. While her $2K per year contribution gives her no tax break currently, the earnings compound tax-free. Additionally, as long as she withdraws no earnings until five tax-years go by from when she opens the account, ultimately she can take everything out tax-free. If she dies, her heirs will get the proceeds of a Roth tax-free as well. IMHO it will make a great vehicle for her under these circumstances.

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