What are Rules for Non-US Citizen Widow to Inherit IRA?

 In Non-US Citizens, Retirement Plans

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash


I am a non-US citizen married to a US citizen who recently died. What is the procedure for me to inherit my late husband’s IRA? I am the executor of his will, which leaves his estate to me. The bank asked me to file for a Transfer Certificate, but it seems to me that that is for estates of non-US citizens.


I don’t know what a “Transfer Certificate” is, but my guess it has something to do with your local probate law. The fact that you are a non-U.S. citizen should be irrelevant in this situation. If your husband named you as beneficiary, then all you should have to do is present the bank with a death certificate for your husband and identification for yourself. If, however, he did not name a beneficiary, then the IRA account is part of your husband’s probate property and you will have to probate his estate. If he had a will, the account will pass as he directed in his will. If he did not have a will, then it will pass according to your state’s rules of “intestacy.” While these rules are different from state to state, they generally provide that the estate will pass to the deceased person’s surviving spouse and children.

While legally, your rights to your husband’s IRA are no different from a U.S. citizen’s rights, sometimes banks or investment firms impose their own requirements that can be difficult to satisfy. They are more likely to do so if you’re living outside the country than if you’re living in the United States.


Related Articles:

What’s the Best Way to Leave My Estate to My Non-US Citizen Son?

What’s the Best Way to Leave IRAs to Non-U.S. Beneficiaries?

Can Non-US Citizens be Beneficiaries of a Trust?

Problems with Non-US Owners of US Investment Accounts

Estate Tax Planning for Non-Citizen Spouses

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