CAN A COUPLE HAVE A JOINT IRA?

Recently, I have read several articles about Women generally saving less than Men for Retirement.  There are several reasons for this, such as:  Women often make less (in the same jobs) or pursue more administrative, rather than professional positions; they take time out of their careers to have or care for children; parent-care (in either Family) often falls to the Wife; growing-up, they are less influenced by financial matters and they tend to invest more conservatively.  Of course the Big Problem is that Women normally live longer.

One point that has come-up in several of these articles is the suggestion of Couples having Joint IRAs–with Husbands being the primary owner.  This is blatantly untrue.  High-Income earners may have some restrictions on their ability to contribute to IRAs. But, aside from that:  one Man or one Women may open either a Traditional (pre-tax) or ROTH (post-tax) IRA, with a maximum total amount.  There cannot be two owners of any one IRA whatsoever.

I believe, however, that some couples might make IRA Contribution decisions based on their combined family income; but, I believe the allocation should be an equitable one.  For instance, two 45 year olds would each be able to contribute up to $5,500 (or the maximum combined earned income).  A non-working spouse can make that contribution, based on the other spouse’s earned income.  How the two allocate their total combination can only be decided by the two spouses.  If one of the two is independently wealthy, for instance, the other spouse cannot earmark the other’s IRA contribution for their benefit.

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