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Marrying for richer rather than poorer

Retirement benefits
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Based on the income of the working spouse, a joint-filing stay-at-home spouse can fund a spousal IRA.

"All you need is the income necessary for the IRA contributions, the max of which is $5,000 this year or $6,000 if you're over 50," says Steven Weisman, a lawyer and professor at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.

Additionally, spouses get special treatment when it comes to inheriting their spouse's retirement assets.

For instance, an inherited Roth IRA can be rolled over into an existing Roth IRA. A spouse inheriting a Roth IRA gets the option of keeping the funds in his or her retirement account indefinitely.

Anyone else inheriting an IRA has to take withdrawals based on his or her life expectancy.

Spouses can also elect to take Social Security payments based on the other's work history if the payout is greater than the benefit based on their own earnings.

For example, if you have reached full retirement age and have been married to your spouse for more than nine months, you can receive Social Security payments equal to 50 percent of your new spouse's benefit as long as you are currently married.




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