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Until an expert weighs in, I don't think an IRA is or can be placed in a trust... I think the distribution is done by way of the beneficiary(ies) you name. Depending on who it is, I believe there are rules as to how the distribution occurs. A spouse may be different than other people. I think your spouse "may" be able to keep the funds in an IRA status but others will have to take the money and pay the taxes, although I'm not sure if there are any income averaging provisions.

I'm not an expert, but at one point I knew some of this for a traditional IRA (Roths are probably different). If you are married when you die, your spouse can roll your IRA over into their own. Distributions from that will usually follow the normal rules. A trust can definitely be the beneficiary of an IRA, but the tax issues upon your death can be complicated. Estate taxes may be involved if the sums are large enough, and at some point income taxes have to be paid (unless, for example, the beneficiary of the trust is a non-profit that does not pay income taxes).

The theory behind all of this is that the government has allowed you to accumulate assets on a tax-deferred basis FOR YOUR RETIREMENT, and that the deferred income taxes need to be paid within your lifetime (or your "expected" actuarial lifetime at your death). This is one of those cases where, especially if large sums are involved, it seems appropriate to find a good financial professional and pay them for a couple hours of their time to look at your entire situation and your desires for where the money should end up after your death.
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