Congress has passed, and the President has signed, a spending bill that includes the SECURE Act, which makes a number of changes in retirement planning rules. Here are some highlights:

1. Minimum distributions from IRAs and retirement plans, required to begin soon after age 70 1/2, may be postponed until age 72. This change applies to those who reach age 70 1/2 after December 31, 2019.

2. Participants in IRAs and retirement plans may withdraw up to $5,000 without penalty (but with tax) to pay the costs of the birth or adoption of a child.

3. Contributions to IRAs were formerly prohibited after age 70 1/2. This limitation has been removed and there is no age limit on IRA contributions.

4. Retirement plan administrators will, after guidance has been issued, be required to provide participants with annual lifetime income disclosures. This and related provisions address the issue of participants with lump sum retirement accounts being unable to determine how long those accounts will last in retirement.

5. Part-time workers will now be eligible to participate in retirement plans if they work at least 500 hours in three consecutive years.

6. Many retirement plans have automatic enrollment and escalation provisions for contributions. The 10% (of compensation) limit on those provisions has been increased to 15%.

7. Small businesses will have additional tax credits to defray the cost of setting up retirement plans.

8. Amounts paid in pursuit of academic or postdoctoral study, such as fellowships and stipends, which are often not treated as taxable income, will be treated as compensation for the purpose of making IRA contributions.

9. Some retirement plans have been issuing credit or debit cards to make plan loans. This practice is now prohibited.

10. Section 529 college savings plans can now be used to pay the costs of apprenticeship programs. In addition, up to $10,000 of 529 plan assets can be used to pay student debts, including the debts of siblings of the plan beneficiary.

11. These liberalizing provisions for IRAs and retirement plans are accompanied by a restrictive change. If non-spouse beneficiaries inherit an IRA at the owner’s death, they will no longer be able to stretch out minimum payments over their lifetimes. Instead, with a few exceptions, distributions must be completed within ten years of the owner’s death. This change will require review of retirement planning for many people.