First off, let me say that I am happy you have the forethought to rollover your 401k into an IRA. In order to ensure you won’t have any surprises, like income tax and early withdrawal penalties; I recommend establishing a “Rollover IRA” prior to attempting to move the funds. In the meantime, you should contact the Human Resources representative at the company you left with your 401k. The HR rep should be able to provide you with the contact information for the custodian of the 401k. Armed with this information, you can contact the custodian and request to do a rollover. This is where a lot of people get themselves into trouble. To avoid temptation, I recommend that you electronically transfer the funds directly to your rollover IRA, not your checking account. For any questions, concerns, or a smooth transition; please don’t hesitate to contact me.
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You should contact your former employers HR department and inquire about distributions from your plan, the timing of any contributions in the form of Match monies, or Profit Sharing contributions that you may have had coming that had not yet be paid into your account by the employer. Not all employers contribute funds you have earned in the same plan year that they were earned. Assuming all funds have been contributed that you earned, you should evaluate the best options available to you. You have the right to leave monies in excess of $5,000 in the old employer plan if you choose. You should evaluate the cost of leaving the money in the plan, to the costs of an IRA that you might be considering. Costs in the plan may be less expensive than an outside IRA. That being said, you should speak with a qualified Financial Planner/Advisor to help you understand how this choice might affect your overall financial circumstances. Costs of IRA's and Financial Advice can also impact your potential accumulations over time. Before you make a final distribution decision, you should fully understand the financial impact of your choice. Best of luck! DAVID
Hello Anita, I tend to be a blunt person. "Blunt" doesn't mean rude, however. You are no longer employed by this company for whatever reason. In light of this I would never allow my hard earned money to remain with a previous employer. You would be surprised at how easy it is for accounts to get lost in this big world. I hate to mention it, but what if you passed away suddenly, I doubt your previous employer would take the steps to get the account information to your next of kin. They might never know you had passed. Read the article I wrote on this link, it should give you sound information:
Remember YOU are the boss, don't be lazy, spend time and find a TRUE Financial Advisor that you feel trust worthy.
You may have 4 choices - take a taxable distribution, keep it in the current plan, roll it into your current retirement plan or roll it into an IRA.
You should nearly always avoid the first and usually it is best to skip door #2 as well because you can lose track of former employer 401k balances, the plan may force you out and if you are going to keep it in a 401k you probably should consolidate it into your current 401k.
So, should you roll it into an IRA or into your current plan, if the plan allows? Don't automatically assume that the rollover IRA is best.
If you are not investment savvy and are not working with a good financial advisor, you may do better in your current retirement plan where hopefully prudent trustees have selected a good lineup of funds to choose from and from which you can borrow if you absolutely need to and where you have no required minimum distribution at retirement if you continue working. You also do not pay a financial advisor in this case, though in some plans you do pay a share of the costs of the plan.
If you have a good financial advisor you are probably best off in the IRA rollover where there is a much wider choice of investments that may be better suited to your individual needs. You will pay a fee if they are a fee-only advisor or commissions if they are a broker, banker or insurance agent but if they are a good advisor with a fiduciary approach they are more than worth their compensation and your retirement will be better.