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Money4Less asks:

Now that I have (almost) reached the withdrawal age, I understand that I may take from my IRA without penalty.

One Foolish article indicated that from 59 1/2 to 70 1/2, you can just withdraw as desired. Is it that simple?

Yes, it is indeed that simple.

Are there rules or set amounts that can be withdrawn?
Do I need a documented plan?

After you reach age 59 1/2, you may take your money from an IRA in any amount in any year. You need no plan for doing so. For a traditional IRA, that lasts until you reach age 70 1/2 when you MUST take a minimum amount, but are free to take as much above that amount as you wish. For a Roth IRA, nothing changes at age 70 1/2. You may take as much or as little as you wish from a Roth.

What about the IRS (other than paying taxes on the $$$)?

The IRS is only interested in how much money is taxable and that you pay all taxes due on that amount. They will receive a Form 1099 from the IRA provider (as you will) showing how much was distributed from your IRA. You then report what you must on your income tax return for the year. All the procedures for doing so can be found in IRS Publication 590 (Individual Retirement Arrangements) available at

What about declaring beneficiaries - When I use the IRA do the rules change?

Not any more. Regardless of age, you may now change your beneficiary at any time. In fact, new rules this year make it easier for you to protect the tax status of your IRA after you die and have begun mandatory distributions at age 70 1/2.

Can anyone point me to the answers to these questions - and other considerations I should evaluate?

In addition to IRS Pub 590, read my overview "70 1/2: Ya Gotta Take It Sometime" at


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