Inherited IRAs are Not Exempt from Creditors in Bankruptcy

On June 12, 2014, The United States Supreme Court determined that Bankruptcy Code § 522(b)(3)(C) does not exempt inherited Individual Retirement Accounts ("IRAs") from creditors' claims in individual bankruptcy cases. Clark v. Rameker, 134 S.Ct. 2242 (2014).

Background

Ms. Clark inherited her mother's $450,000 IRA in 2001. She filed for bankruptcy relief in 2010 after spending the IRA down to $300,000. Her bankruptcy schedules listed the IRA as exempt from paying her creditors' claims. Ms. Clark asserted that Bankruptcy Code § 522(b)(3)(C)'s exempting "retirement funds to the extent that those funds are in a fund or account that is exempt from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code..." protected her inherited IRA. Her bankruptcy trustee challenged the asserted exemption. The bankruptcy court granted the trustee's challenge to the exemption.

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