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It is true that the first RMD must be in the year the original owner passed away?

Not unless the owner had reached 70 1/2 at the time of their death and hadn't taken a distribution yet. From IRS Pub 590-B:

Distributions in the year of the owner's death. The required minimum distribution for the year of the owner's death depends on whether the owner died before the required beginning date, defined earlier. If the owner died before the required beginning date, there is no required minimum distribution in the year of the owner's death. For years after the year of the owner's death, see Owner Died Before Required Beginning Date, later, under IRA Beneficiaries. If the owner died on or after the required beginning date, the IRA beneficiaries are responsible for figuring and distributing the owner's required minimum distribution in the year of death. The owner's required minimum distribution for the year of death generally is based on Table III (Uniform Lifetime) in Appendix B. However, if the sole beneficiary of the IRA is the owner's spouse who is more than 10 years younger than the owner, use the life expectancy from Table II (Joint Life and Last Survivor Expectancy).

My sister passed away suddenly. Our county is the one of the worst counties for probate in the state. It is likely that it will take at least two months to appoint an executor. At this point, I am not even certain where her accounts are held. She did have an IRA somewhere but wasn't old enough for RMDs. For now, I am just trying to get my feet under me, taking care of her pets and arranging a funeral.

Sorry for your loss. IRAs don't have to go through probate as long as they have a named beneficiary, so if you are able to find the information on the IRA, you may not have to wait for an executor to be named.

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