As a general rule if your named beneficiary is an individual (a "Designated Beneficiary"), that beneficiary can withdraw your plan proceeds over a period of time (a fixed number of years) that equals his or her life expectancy. A table published by the IRS (See the Single Life Expectancy on page 184) provides the life expectancy of a beneficiary based upon his or her age.
For example, if your beneficiary is 55, then based upon the table, his or her life expectancy is 29.6 years.
Excerpt from The Complete Guide to Estate and Financial Planning in Turbulent Times (Collaborative Press, 2011) - Walt Dallas, Contributing Author
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