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Can I retrieve my 401 K from Samuel Merritt?

I no longer work at Samuel Merritt and need to know what I can do about the money that was put into the 401 K. Can I withdraw it or move it or what?

Jul 08, 2013 by Michael from Antioch, CA in  |  Flag
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19 votes

Hi Michael,

You have a couple different choices to how you want to manage your old 401(k) plan. You can leave your balance with the old plan if they offer a good variety of low-cost, solid-performing investment options. If not, you are better off rolling it over to an IRA or to your new employer’s qualified plan if one is offered. Evaluate your new plan options and cost, and under certain circumstances it might be an advantage to have a higher balance in your new plan.

Rolling your old 401(k) to an IRA might be your best option. It gives your money the potential to grow tax deferred, as it did in your 401(k). In addition, an IRA often provides access to more investment options than are typically offered in an employer’s plan. Simply contact your HR department or plan administrator (contact information can be found on your last 401(k) statement) and request a direct rollover to the financial institution that holds your IRA.

Your absolute last resort would be cashing out your plan. The consequences vary depending on your age and tax situation. If you dip into your 401(k) before age 59 ½, it generally will be subject to an early withdrawal penalty.

Remember to do your due diligence and if you are uncertain, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional. Hope this helps!

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 08, 2013 from Denver, CO

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3 votes

Michael,

As a former employee you would be able to take the funds you had in the old 401(k). To do this you should contact either the HR department at Samuel Merritt or the company that was managing the 401(k). Monies that you contributed and any of the company match (if the company matched) that you are vested in can be moved into your own IRA or if needed taken as a taxable distribution. The ideal option for you would be to roll the funds to an IRA as this money was set up for your retirement. If you take the money as a distribution to spend you will be taxed and if you are under 59 1/2 penalized 10% as well.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 08, 2013 from Uniontown, OH

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You should have received information regarding this when you left the company, or shortly thereafter. If not, contact their HR department to find out what you need to do to either withdraw the funds, or to transfer them to your new 401k or your IRA plan. You can also contact the plan provider itself. During your employment, you should have gotten statements regarding your balances. They normally have a contact number on them. If you're under age 59 1/2, and you take the funds out as opposed to rolling them over to another qualified plan or IRA account, you will be taxed on the withdrawal as current year income, and will also pay a 10% penalty on top of the taxes. By rolling it into another qualified plan, the money will retain its tax deferred status until you decide to withdraw it in the future.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 08, 2013 from Springfield, MO

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Michael, if your plan has low fees and good investment options, you might want to leave it there. I understand that from your perspective, you may not be sure if your plan has either low fees or good investment options. Ask trusted former co-workers, if possible for their opinions.. If not, seek advice from a local financial professional. Also, if you have less than $5000 in the plan, the company may just force a distribution after sending you a notice.

Typically it is advised to roll it out into an IRA. The advantages to an IRA are that you have more control of what your investment choices are, and presumably, but not always lower fees. By seeking advice froma a local CFP®, you should be able to get good advice on this plan, but also structure a financial plan for your future.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 10, 2013 from Delray Beach, FL

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Brian Kuhn CFP® Level 17

Thanks for your submitting your question. Brightscope is an aggregator of retirement plan information however does not handle your employer or former employer’s retirement plan specifically. If you still have the contact information of the person who handled anything to do with human resources at the company that would be your first place to start for the information you are looking for. Additionally if you run into further setbacks here is a link to an article I wrote on tracking down a 401(k) http://www.brightscope.com/financial-planning/advice/article/24529/10-Ways-To-Find-Your-Old-401K/ I hope all of this helps. Feel free to reach out directly or contact other advisors who post an answer to your query as I’m sure one of us can help. See tax assistance as well to understand the rules there if you make any transactions on your account.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Dec 17, 2015 from Fulton, MD

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