SECURE Act, Signature Wealth Strategies, Florence, SC

The SECURE Act and You: 6 Ways It Impacts the Individual Investor

We believe it’s of critical importance that you stay informed of any key changes that may affect your retirement and estate planning – in easy-to-understand language. In alignment with this belief, please feel welcome to review the following information on the SECURE Act, passed in December of 2019.


The SECURE Act is a piece of legislation that was passed in December of 2019. SECURE is an acronym that stands for ‘Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement’. There are many changes and implications that come along with it, some of which will have significant impacts on retirement savings and estate planning for many Americans. 

We are here for you in your journey to create your signature life. Review some of the new law’s key components below. In addition, the team at your local Signature Wealth Strategies branch stands ready to assist you in any way that you need. We’re happy to provide more detail and recommend adjustments to your retirement, investment, or estate plans if warranted.

1. Removes provisions that allowed for ‘stretch’ IRAs.

In the past, non-spousal beneficiaries of retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs could typically spread – or “stretch” – distributions over their life expectancy. The new stipulations now require that most beneficiaries take distributions from the inherited retirement account over ten years, rather than over their life expectancy. 

The new rule impacts beneficiaries of account owners that pass in 2020 or later. Beneficiaries of account owners who passed away in 2019 and earlier are grandfathered under the old rules. If grandfathered in, beneficiaries may continue to stretch distributions over their life expectancy.

Other exceptions to the new law include:

  • Spousal beneficiaries
  • Beneficiaries who are chronically ill or disabled
  • Beneficiaries not more than ten years younger than the original account owner

Minor child beneficiaries of the decedent may use the stretch until they reach the age of majority and will then follow the 10-year rule. 

If you have named a trust (known as a “pass-through trust” or “conduit trust”) as a beneficiary of your retirement accounts, speak with your estate attorney to review the new law’s details. These trusts often have language that allows trust beneficiaries to receive only required minimum distributions (RMDs). Since there are now no RMDs until the 10th year, the trust’s current language may only permit one distribution in the final year, potentially creating a substantial tax liability.

2. Helps give your funds more time to grow by increasing the age for required RMDs.

A Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) is the minimum distribution a person must take out of their account to avoid tax consequences. Previously, most individuals were required to take RMDs from their traditional IRA, and 401(k) accounts starting in the year they turn 70½. The new law delays this required beginning date to age 72. 

Individuals who turn 70½ in 2020 and beyond (born on or after July 1, 1949) may delay taking RMDs until age 72 and may still wait until April 1 in the year after turning 72 to take their first distribution. If you became 70½ in 2019, you’re required to satisfy your RMD for that year and will have to continue taking RMDs each year.

3. Grants the ability to contribute to an IRA after age 70 1/2.

Previously, you couldn’t contribute to a traditional IRA after age 70½. The new law has removed that age limit. This is particularly significant for those who continue to work later in life, and it aligns with contribution rules currently in place for 401(k)s and Roth IRAs.

4. Assists in growing your family by granting access to the distributions you need… penalty-free.

Now, $5,000 per parent may be distributed from a retirement plan without the 10% penalty in the event of a qualified birth or adoption. The distribution would need to occur within one year of the child’s birth or the adoption’s finalization.

5. Changes the tax implications for unearned income for children.

The 2017 tax law changed how unearned income for some children was taxed, using the rates for estates and trusts rather than the parent’s marginal rate. Now, this change has been reversed. Unearned income for some children in 2020 and beyond will once again be taxed at the parent’s marginal rate. Furthermore, parents have the option of applying the new kiddie tax rules for 2018 and 2019.

6. Provides further flexibility in making your 529 funds go further.

The list of qualified expenses for 529 plan distributions has been expanded – notably, distributions for apprenticeship programs and “qualified education loan repayments” are now allowed. Up to $10,000 may be distributed to pay both principal and interest for qualified education loans for the plan beneficiary, and an additional $10,000 may be used to repay loans for each of the plan beneficiary’s siblings.








Part of this article is material prepared by Raymond James as a resource for its financial advisors. The content provided herein is based on Raymond James’ interpretation of the SECURE Act and is not intended to be legal advice or provide a tax opinion. This document is a summary only and not meant to represent all provisions within the SECURE Act.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.
Keep in mind that there is no assurance that any strategy or financial plan will ultimately be successful or profitable nor protect against a loss.
The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Past performance may not be indicative of future results.

About Signature Wealth

Signature Wealth Strategies is a wealth management practice serving families like yours with a hands-on, concierge level service. Our advisors help you confidently plan your financial future through comprehensive strategies and custom solutions. We believe that each client’s story is as unique as his or her signature, and their financial strategy should be too.