I have had a couple of questions regarding "required minimum distributions" or RMD's over the past few weeks and thought I would share some answers. In the year you turn 70.5 years old you are required to begin withdrawing money from your IRA's, 401K's and other qualified retirement plans. The amount you need to withdraw is determined by life expectancy tables.

The IRS imposes severe penalties if you do not make the required withdrawals.

One question was: "Can I convert my traditional IRA to a ROTH and avoid my 2010 RMD?" Unfortunately you are required to take your RMD before making the conversion to a ROTH. The ROTH IRA will then have no required distribution.

Another question: " If I have an IRA and a 401K can I calculate the RMD for both accounts and just take the total amount from one of the accounts?" Sorry, another negative answer here. Each 401K plan requires a distribution from that plan. If you have multiple IRA accounts you can choose to aggregate the RMD and take it from any one of the IRA's or combination.

Retirement account rules can be tricky business. Always ask the question when in doubt.

(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).