Q&A: Retirement rules

Question: I have just retired and have an RRSP for myself and spousal one for my wife. Can I combine the two and draw on it? If I can’t do that, do I withdraw minimum amount on one fund at a time? Does this start when I am 72? I was reading that it would be best to wait till December of that year to start. – Joe

Gordon Pape answers: You cannot combine the two RRSPs – they must remain as separate plans. My advice is not to convert them to registered retirement income funds (RRIFs) until you are required to. That would be by Dec. 31 of the year in which each of you turns 71. The advantage of leaving the money in RRSPs until then is that no minimum withdrawals are required. You can take out only the amount you need. Keep in mind that in the case of the spousal plan, special withdrawal rules apply. If you are unsure about them, check with the financial institution that holds the plan. Once the plans are converted to RRIFs, minimum annual withdrawals must be made from each one.

Do you have a money question you’d like to ask Gordon Pape? Please visit this page to find out how. Then check our website every week to see if it was chosen for a response. Sorry, we cannot send personal answers.