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Greetings, NoelXX, and welcome. You wrote:

<< My question was based on something I read that I understood to say that the person named in the joint life expectancy information was in fact the only beneficiary and that nothing could change that - it was written in stone. >>

Seeing as I wrote the article, perhaps I can clarify what you think you read. When you reach age 70 1/2, you must begin minimum required distributions (MRD). If you use your life and the life of a designated beneficiary to do so (i.e., a joint life expectancy), then the beneficiary on your account at the time MRD begin cannot be changed for future MRD. If that beneficiary predeceases you, you cannot use a new beneficiary to determine subsequent MRD factors. That means at your death, the IRA must be paid out and taxed to whoever you designated as a new beneficiary no later than December 31 of the year following your death. (Unlike the original beneficiary, the new one cannot take the money over his/her lifetime to lessen taxes.) So for MRD purposes and MRD purposes only, the beneficiary you choose at age 70 1/2 is locked in stone and can never be changed. However, you can still have a new beneficiary for remaining IRA proceeds should the old one die first. You just cannot take MRD based on the new beneficiaries life expectancy.

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