I just turned 70 on Oct. 1. My friend was 70 on March 1. Her advisor told her she has to take a required distribution from her IRA this year (2012) but my advisor told me I don’t have to take one this year. Who is right?

Both of your advisors are right. The first distribution must be taken in the year you turn 70 ½. Since you turned 70 in October, you will not be 70 ½ until April of next year so your first distribution is due next year. Your friend who turned 70 in March was 70 ½ in September so she must take her first distribution this year. You will figure your distribution based on the age you are on the last day of the year. You will be 71 when you take your first distribution in 2013. Your friend will be 70 when she takes her first distribution in 2012.

My son is having trouble refinancing his mortgage. I have plenty of cash in my IRA. Can my IRA purchase my son's mortgage?

Absolutely not. Your son is a disqualified person so there can be no transactions between your IRA and your son. That would be a prohibited transaction. The IRA would be considered to be disqualified and the entire amount distributed to you on the first day of the year of the transaction. You would owe income tax on the entire distribution (except for any after-tax amounts in the IRA). The 10% early distribution penalty would apply to all taxable amounts if you are under age 59 ½ and no exceptions to the penalty applied.

I inherited a very small IRA from my father. Can't I just combine it with my own?

No. IRAs inherited from non-spouse beneficiaries cannot be combined with your own IRAs. If you do so, it’s treated as a taxable distribution from the inherited IRA and contribution to your own IRA. Any contribution in excess of your allowed annual contribution would be an excess contribution and subject to the 6% excess contribution penalty each year it remains in your account.