Denise Appleby: Answering the Tough Questions on Retirement Plans

Growing up in Jamaica, retirement planning was simple for the friends and family of Denise Appleby, owner of Appleby Retirement Consulting Inc.

“People would just get old and live off the land,” she says. “My aunt raised chickens and had a garden. Her husband would go to the beach and come back with fish.”

After moving to the United States, Denise began working in the IRA department for Pershing LLC, a clearing house. Denise discovered she had a passion for the laws behind retirement plans. She read everything she could get her hands on, including the actual tax codes. She soon became the go-to person at her firm for answering questions, even for the legal department.

Now, Denise is a leading expert on retirement accounts. She provides consulting for other financial, tax and legal professionals, especially when their clients run into trouble.

Denise has co-authored three books on retirement accounts, written more than 400 articles on IRA rules and regulations, and runs the consumer website She also hosts training seminars, speaks at events and has appeared on CNBC’s Business News and Fox Business Network.

In today’s episode, Denise talks about the costliest mistakes clients can make with their retirement accounts, such as mishandling required minimum distributions (RMDs) and account rollovers, the process for fixing these mistakes to avoid penalties and why advisors should be careful about only relying on IRS publications for guidance.

Key Takeaways

  • Start the conversation early with clients about distributions – five to 10 years before they become mandatory – to keep planning options open.
  • Common, costly retirement plan mistakes include not taking RMDs, missing the 60-day deadline on a retirement plan rollover or making more than one rollover in a 12-month period.
  • There are ways to fix retirement plan mistakes and avoid IRS penalties after the fact.


“In a recent case, an IRS tax court said you rely on IRS publications at your own peril. If you’re unsure of the law, you have to talk with a professional proficient in these areas.” – Denise Appleby


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