My spouse and I moved overseas. We are considering converting our 401(k) and 403(b) to self-directed IRAs.

What would be the pros and cons of combining both, in 1 IRA, versus 2 individual IRAs?

2 Answers 2


Since the I in IRA is individual. The retirement money from your accounts will end up in one or more IRAs. The retirement money from your spouses retirement accounts will end up in one or more IRAs owned by your spouse.

How many IRA each will need depends on if the retirement fund contains pre-tax, post-tax, Roth and company match; and if you want to do any conversions.

  • Thanks @mhoran_psprep. That makes sense alright, that any IRA must be tied solely to 1 individual.
    – MikeRoger
    Jan 6, 2016 at 9:10

As stated above, the IRA accounts themselves are individual. But if you want to simulate a joint account, the following actions would help:

  1. Make sure to setup each account with the other spouse as the beneficiary so that each account goes to any surviving spouse should the unexpected happen.

  2. Some brokers (I know TDA does this) allow you to grant access to your account to another login, so that effectively one spouse could make the invest decisions for all your accounts. This is better than simply sharing your username and password, which is against many T&Cs. If you do this in both directions, each spouse has access to all accounts.

  • 1
    Yes, item #2 was useful when I had to take over investment decisions for my mother. She could still log in and see all her investments, but I could see her account under my own login and take actions that she wanted to happen. That was with ETrade, though in Australia, not the USA.
    – Peter K.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 13:15

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