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The distribution for 2002 is taken as if your mother-in-law was still alive since she was alive on January 1.

Normally, if the distribution were taken into the estate, the estate would pay tax at its rate, but if assets are distributed to the beneficiaries, the income is generally considered distributed first. So, in either case, the beneficiaries will be paying the tax at their rates. This can be a tricky area of tax law and you (more importantly, the executor(s)) should seriously consider seeking professional advice before making any decisions.

I got it this time. My BIL is the executor. We have talked about professional advice, but we wanted to find out and know as much as we could before we contacted anyone.

The IRA will be titled something like "[Broker Name] custodian, [deceased name] IRA for benefit of [beneficiary name]" or "[Broker name] IRA custodian, [beneficiary name] beneficiary of [deceased name]"

That makes it clear.

Thanks Ira for your help.

Elliot - slow learner
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