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How do I cash out my 401k?

Mar 31, 2014 by David from Muncie, IN in  |  Flag
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Hello David,as mentioned above you need to contact the custodian of the 401(k) and ask for the procedure to get your money. But first you need to consider your financial situation and your tax situation prior to taking your money. For example, any distribution to you where you use the money will be recorded with the IRS as a taxable distribution. This will add money on top of your other income and may increase the tax bracket you are in. You can have taxes withheld from the distribution, but that may not be enough to pay additional taxes. If you take a distribution prior to age 59 1/2 there will be penalties based on the amount of the withdrawal. You might avoid the penalties in the case of death, disability, first time home buying or a qualified educational expense. How the withdrawal affects you specifically should be discussed with your tax adviser. If you rollover the distribution to another qualified retirement plan within 60 days, you may avoid taxes and penalties.

In considering your financial situation you should examine the reason you need the money. Is this a one time withdrawal for an emergency or is this withdrawal due to your inability to manage your financial life? If you are still employed you may have the ability to borrow against your 401(k) in the case of an emergency. You may be able to take a hardship withdrawal also. If you need the money to handle debt or a purchase then you need to review your monthly budgeting. To avoid having to take a retirement plan withdrawal you should have a cash reserve. A cash reserve is having 6 months of expenses in savings for emergencies. Taking out money designated for retirement and using it for other reasons really needs to be thought out. As you have probably experienced, the hard part of retirement planning is saving the money. The easy part is spending it. I would suggest you spend some time with a financial advisor to look over your situation, your options and any possible tax consequences. Good luck!

Comment   |  Flag   |  Apr 04, 2014 from Carmel, IN

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Get your last statement, call the contact phone number listed there, tell them what you want to do. They will provide you the forms to effect a full distribution, partial withdrawal, or rollover to an IRA. Some 401(k) plans will even take these instructions by phone rather than requiring paperwork.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Apr 01, 2014 from Canton, GA

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David, it depends on what you'd like to do with the assets and what age you are. Keep in mind if there are penalties associated to your withdrawal, you might want to only "cash out" the portion you need so you don't pay any unnecessary fees/taxes.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Apr 01, 2014 from Indianapolis, IN

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Hi David, The first question is are you still working for the company that holds the 401(k) or have you severed employment? The company will have some rules if you are still working. Either way contact the HR department and ask for the necessary forms. Keep in mind issues such as vesting, penalties & taxes as you make this very important decision.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Apr 06, 2014 from Medina, OH

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David, I think the real question you want to be asking yourself is 'why do you want to cash out your 401(k)'? vs. 'should I cash out my 401(k)? I would need to know more about your situation, but you have to ask yourself if this is truly the cheapest or best form of getting money knowing that the 401(k) could be subject to taxation, early withdrawal penalty, etc. This may only leave you with 50% to 60% of your gross amount beyond the loss of the compounding interest/growth of the 401(k) plan. I would recommend looking at all of your options before you go this route, but for most of the large 401(k) providers it won't be harder than a phone call or a form to gain access to the money.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 07, 2014 from Alpharetta, GA

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