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A fully-qualified inherited Roth IRA is the holy grail of estate planning because Roth distributions on inherited Roth IRA ’s are completely income-tax free in accordance to regular Roth IRA rules , giving them a major advantage of an inherited Traditional IRA or 401k, and surviving spouses can elect to treat the inherited Roth IRA as their own, meaning no required minimum distributions (RMDs). However, inherited Roth’s do unfortunately count for estate tax purposes. In regard to paying income tax, there are two exceptions that can effect the tax-ability of the Roth IRA after the death of the account holder: As a rule, the 10% penalty for early distribution does not apply in this case, unless the spouse of the deceased opts to handle the Roth IRA as his or her account and then takes an early withdrawal