And this is equally true regardless of whether the “large” IRA distributions are because the retiree to take it as a required minimum distribution.
Non cash liquidating distributions
The solution is to engage in systematic partial Roth conversions in the early years, moving the dollars from the IRA to a Roth IRA, and generating the taxable income that fills the 15% tax bracket in the early years.
The end result of this approach is that the brokerage account will still be depleted throughout the first half of retirement, but the retiree’s tax rate isn’t driven up at that time because distributions can be partially supported from the newly-created Roth IRA.
Not so much that the tax bracket is driven up now, but enough to reduce exposure to higher tax brackets in the future.
However, the optimal approach is actually to preserve the tax-preferenced value of retirement accounts from taxable investment accounts but doing systematic partial Roth conversions of the pre-tax IRA to fill tax brackets in the early years.
Except in practice, it’s possible to be “too good” at tax deferral, where the IRA grows so large that future withdrawals (or even just RMD obligations) actually drive the retiree into higher tax brackets!