Youll Have More Investment Options To Choose From In An Ira
The more investment options you have, the more likely you are to make better decisions. Thats why Dave likes to say if you have two bad options in front of you, go look for better ones!
Like we mentioned before, rolling your old 401 funds into an IRA means you have thousands of mutual funds to choose from instead of the handful of options you had in your old workplace plan.
Roll The Money Over To A New Employer
If your new employer offers a 401 and permits rollovers, you can have your old retirement savings transferred over to your new account. The advantage of going this route is having your money all in one place. The disadvantage is that your investment choices will still be limited compared to those offered by an IRA. You should note that this may not yet be an option for you if your new employer requires you to work for the company for a set period before enrolling in its retirement plans.
If you decide to roll over your old retirement savings to your new employer-sponsored plan, there are two ways you can go about it. The easiest way is to get your old plan administrator to transfer the funds directly into your new account. Your new job’s human resources department will be able to help you fill out the necessary paperwork to initiate the transfer.
You can also elect to receive the full balance of the old account as a check that you must deposit in the new account within 60 days to avoid any penalties. If you fail to do so, you will be taxed on the full amount, and you’ll pay an additional 10% early-withdrawal fee if you’re under 59 1/2.
Determine If Your 401 Account Was Rolled Over To A Default Ira Or Missing Participant Ira
One possibility is your employer rolled the funds over into a Default IRA.
If your employer tried to contact you for instructions as to what to do with your account balance, and you fail to respond, you may be deemed a non-responsive participant.
If they are unable to locate you altogether, you may be deemed a Missing Participant.
In either scenario, if the plan is being terminated, your employer may have put the funds in a Missing Participant Auto Rollover IRA.
This is an IRA account set up on your behalf to preserve your retirement assets until they are claimed by you or your beneficiaries under Department of Labor regulations.
To qualify for a Missing Participant or Default IRA, the account balance must be greater than $100 but less than $5,000 unless the funds are coming from a terminated plan, then the $5,000 ceiling is waived.
Finding a Missing Participant IRA
If your money has been transferred to a Missing Participant IRA, you should be able to find it by searching the FreeERISA website.
This search is slightly more time consuming than the national registry. Registration is required to search the database, which contains 2.6 million ERISA form 5500s, covering 1.3 million plans and 1 million plan sponsors.
If you know your money has been transferred to one of these default accounts, you should get it out into a standard IRA account.
Typically, these accounts must be interest-bearing, bear a reasonable rate of return, and be FDIC insured.
Here’s the bad part:
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Move Your 401 To Your New Employer
If your new employer has a retirement plan, you can ask your former employer to automatically transfer your money to the new 401. Direct transfers may take a few days or weeks, depending on the 401 plan.
You may also opt to receive a check with your 401 balance so that you can deposit it to your new 401. In this case, you have 60 days to deposit the check into the new plan. Any delays past the 60-day deadline attract an income tax and penalty on early withdrawals.
What To Do With Your Old 401 When You Quit And Why It Matters
One common question when leaving a job is what to do with the old retirement plan. Whether you leave involuntarily, quit to start a new job, or see yourself switching jobs several times in the next few years, you need a plan for your former employer’s retirement savings plan. That’s your 401, 457 or 403.
One wrong move can cost a big chunk of your savings, so you need to be ready to take the right steps.
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Waiting In The End Game
People leaving a job may reactively transfer funds from an old plan to a new IRA or employer plan, Cirrus’ Heider says. But following that impulse can be a costly mistake.
“Particularly if something comes up that’s unexpected, such as you’re fired or laid off, don’t feel pressured,” Heider said. “Take a little bit of time, get over the emotion of the moment, and sit back and look at all your options.”
Make The Best Decision For You
When it comes to deciding what to do with an old 401, there may be factors that could be unique to your situation. That means the best choice will be different for everyone. One thing to remember is that the rules among retirement plans vary so it’s important to find out the rules your former employer has as well as the rules at your new employer.
Do also compare the fees and expenses associated with the accounts you’re considering. If you find it confusing or overwhelming, speak with a financial professional to help with the decision.
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Leave Your Account Where It Is
Many companies allow you to keep your 401 savings in their plans after you leave your job. Often that’s only if you meet a minimum balance requirement, typically $5,000. Since this option requires no action, it is often chosen by default. But leaving your 401 where it is isnt always a result of procrastination. There are some valid reasons to do it.
You can take penalty-free withdrawals from an employer-sponsored retirement plan if you leave your job in or after the year you reached age 55 and expect to start taking withdrawals before turning 59 1/2.
Other reasons you may want to keep your retirement plan where it is include:
Move Your 401 Into An Ira
If you are looking for greater flexibility with your money, you can rollover over your 401 into an IRA with a financial institution or brokerage. An IRA is also a great option if you want to consolidate 401s left with former employers.
With an IRA, you have access to a wide range of investment options, and you have greater control in determining where to invest in, and the fees you pay. You may also qualify for penalty-free withdrawals when buying your first home, paying higher education expenses, or other qualifying expenses.
The 60-day deadline also applies to indirect 401 rollover to an IRA. The 401 plan administrator will send you a check, and you must deposit it with your IRA within the 60-day window to avoid paying income tax and early withdrawal tax.
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Ways To Invest Old 401 Funds When You Change Jobs
When you leave a job that offered retirement benefits, you must decide how you want to invest your 401 funds housed with your previous employer. You have some choices to make to maintain the stability and wealth-building potential of those hard-earned retirement savings.
First, you must decide if you want to:
- Keep the funds with your old employers plan
- Move the funds to your new employers plan if they offer one
- Roll the funds over to a traditional or Roth IRA with an independent IRA services provider
If you choose to keep the funds with your previous employer, understand the drawbacksyou have no control over the investments for your account. And you wont enjoy employer matching contributions to your old 401 funds anymore if your old employer offered that benefit.
Moving old 401 funds to your new employers plan allows you to take advantage of employer matches, but you still dont have much input as to investments for the account.
Rolling the funds over to an individual traditional or Roth IRA is advantageous if your new employer doesnt offer benefits.
You can also roll funds over to a solo 401 if your new job is self-employment. The sub-contractor industry has grown tremendously over the past few years. Solo-k plans give you the opportunity to reap much of the same retirement benefits and rewards as typical accounts offered by larger employers.
Individual plans present a significant bonus if you choose to use a self-directed retirement plan.
Is A Rollover Or Transfer Right For You
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*Consider all available options, which include remaining with your current retirement plan, rolling over into a new employer’s plan or IRA, or cashing out the account value. When deciding between an employer-sponsored plan and IRA, there may be important differences to consider, such as range of investment options, fees and expenses, availability of services, and distribution rules . Depending on your plan’s investment options, in some cases, the investment management fees associated with your plan’s investment options may be lower than similar investment options offered outside the plan.
When Does A Roth Conversion Make Sense
A Roth conversion, which happens when you roll over money from a traditional 401 into a Roth IRA, comes with good news and bad news.
The good news is that from now on, that money will grow inside your Roth IRA tax-free and you wont pay any taxes on that money when youre ready to withdraw from the account in retirement.
But when you transfer that pretax money from your traditional 401 into a Roth IRA, which is funded with after-tax dollars, youll have to pay taxes on that money now. Thats the bad news.
A Roth conversion might feel like ripping off a Band-Aid now, but itll feel great once you retire. You might want to seriously consider a Roth conversion only if you can afford to pay the tax bill with cash you have saved up. But be careful, because a conversion could add thousands of dollars to your tax bill. If thats just too much for you to stomach, then stick with a traditional IRA rollover.
What If Your Employer Goes Out Of Business
Under federal law, your employer must keep your 401 funds separate from their business assets.
This means that even if your employer abruptly shuts their doors overnight, your money is protected. It cannot be used to pay off your companys loans, cover employee payroll, or for any other purpose.
If your company shut down abruptly, it is possible that a portion of money will be at risk. If your money has been withheld, but has not yet been sent to the 401 plan to be invested, the company could in theory, access those funds.
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Get In Touch With The Previous 401 Plan Administrator To Rollover Funds
After getting relevant information from your current plan administrator, get in touch with the previous 401 plan administrator to roll over funds. Request a distribution. This may be through a direct rolloverâwith a check from the current retirement custodian going directly to the new retirement custodian. An indirect rollover is where the check goes to the employee, who must rollover within 60 days.
A Rollover Or Transfer Ira May Be Right For You If You Want
Streamlined account management
Access your accountswhenever you need to, however you want. Whatever your preferences, you can securely manage and monitor your accountsalmost anytime, anywhere.
A centralized view of your investments
Whether youre saving for future education, saving for a major life event, or simply want to build your wealth over time, you can invest all your goals in one place.
Ongoing tax-deferred growth potential
Choose an option that allows you to continue to benefit from your savings tax-advantaged status and increase the growth potential of your wealth.
Additional select client benefits
As your assets with us increase, so will your benefits. All our clients enjoy a competitive list of benefits aligned to your investment tier.
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Example : The Wrong Kind Of Rollover
Tom, who has yet to reach 59½, holds two traditional IRAs. In April he withdraws $50,000 from IRA No. 1 and, within 60 days, rolls over the amount into IRA No. 2. Tom does not owe any taxes or penalties on the transaction.
Eight months later, John withdraws an additional $40,000 from IRA No. 1 and rolls over the amount into IRA No. 2, also within 60 days. However, the $40,000 is not eligible for transfer because John already rolled over a distribution from IRA No. 1 during the preceding 12 months. John must remove the $40,000 as a return of excess distribution to avoid any penalties.
To avoid common IRA rollover mistakes and penalties, it is recommended that the funds be moved as a trustee-to-trustee transfer. There is no limit on the number of trustee-to-trustee transfers that may occur between your IRAs.
Take The Money And Run
Not so fast. Tempting as it may be, cashing out your employers retirement savings plan is rarely a worthwhile strategy. First, youll owe income taxes on the money. If youre in the 28% tax bracket, a $100,000 withdrawal dwindles to $72,000 after taxes. If youre withdrawing it early youll likely also owe a 10% penalty, trimming your total to just $62,000. On top of those losses, your tax-deferred savings no longer have the opportunity to grow. Not so smart after all.
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Keep Your 401 With Your Old Employer
The biggest headache of leaving your retirement savings in your old employer’s retirement plan is trying to keep track of multiple retirement accounts. But if you are the kind of highly organized person who doesn’t mind receiving and deciphering multiple earnings summaries, consider the advantages of leaving your 401 savings right where they are.
Before you quit your current job, you need to check with your human resources department about the company’s “vesting” policy. One of the greatest perks of a 401 is that your employer matches a percentage of your contributions. But at some companies, those matching employer contributions are deleted if you leave the company before you are “fully vested” .
Vesting policies differ from company to company. Some use a gradual scale where you get to keep 25 percent of matching funds for each year with the company. Others don’t give anything if you leave before four or five years . If you are very close to being fully vested, it might be worth sticking with your current job for a few more months to save potentially thousands of dollars in free money.
Now let’s look at the advantages of consolidating your retirement accounts in a new 401 or a rollover IRA.
If you own company stock as part of your 401 plan, consider leaving it where it is, even if you move the rest of your money elsewhere. Any gains you earn on the company stock will be taxed at a lower rate if it remains in the company plan.
How To Find An Old 401 And What To Do With It
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There are billions of dollars sitting unclaimed in ghosted workplace retirement plans. And some of it might be yours if youve ever left a job and forgotten to take your vested retirement savings with you.
But no matter how long the cobwebs have been forming on your old 401, that money is still yours. All you have to do is find it.
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Example : Clerical Errors
Jane deals with two financial institutions. At the first institution, she has a traditional IRA while, at the second, she has both a traditional IRA and a regular savings account. Jane instructs the second financial institution to transfer assets from her IRA to her IRA at the first financial institution.
A year later, Jane realizes the delivering account number she provided was that of her savings account. She immediately put the money into her IRA at the first financial institution. However, this made the transaction a regular contribution to the IRA, not a plan-to-plan transfer. Unfortunately, neither financial institution detected the discrepancy and prevented the erroneous transaction.
If Jane has already contributed the maximum amount to her IRA, she will have to calculate and fix the excess IRA contribution. If she does not correct the error by the applicable deadline, she will owe the IRS a 6% penalty on the amount for each year it remains in her IRA. However, if she has not yet contributed to her IRA for the year, and the amount is not more than the IRA contribution limit and includes only cash, Jane may leave the amount in the IRA and treat it as her regular IRA contribution.
You May Be Able To Leave Your Account With Your Former Employer At Least Temporarily
Changing jobs is stressful, even in the best of circumstances. If youve lost a job and are scrambling for re-employment, youre likely focused on that. But eventually you will need to figure out what to do with your 401.
If your balance is $5,000 or more, you can leave the money right where it is, giving you time to decide the best course of action for you. In this case, youre under no obligation to move your money.
What you should do right away, regardless of the 401 balance in your old plan, and as early as your first day at the new job, is to sign up for your new companys 401 plan. Even if your new employer has an automatic opt-in feature that does not kick in for one to three months and if you rely on that, rather than taking the initiative you can miss 30 to 90 days of contributions and matching funds, Bogosian advises.
After six months, youve got a handle on the job, know youre going to stay and have some experience with your new plan. Youre now in a better position to compare your last 401 plan with this new one, including the diversity of the investments and the costs.
But what happens if the balance in your old 401 is less than $5,000? Your former employer may force you out of the plan by placing your funds in an IRA in your name or cashing you out and sending you a check.
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