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If your sister had not yet reached her Required Beginning Date (RBD), which is April 1 of the year following the year she reached 70.5, then she will not have a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). If she has reached her RBD she will have an RMD, and if she hadn't taken any or all of the RMD by the date of death, then the beneficiary of the IRA must withdraw it by the end of the year. If you are the sole beneficiary, then you must begin withdrawing RMDs not later than 12/31 of the year following the year of her death. Note: these are the MINIMUM, as beneficiary, you may withdraw as much of the inherited IRA as you wish.

If the IRA did not have a beneficiary or the beneficiary had predeceased the IRA owner and if there is no contingent beneficiary, then the IRA will most likely become part of the probate estate. As you're finding out, probate is not a fun experience. Depending on your state and the size of her estate, you may be able to file for a small estate probate using an affidavit of assets, which is generally less costly and quicker than a full probate. You will most likely need the assistance of an estate attorney to make sure you do this correctly.

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