What is a 401k Rollover?
Changing Jobs? Consider a 401k Rollover.
Unfortunately, these tough economic times have brought about significant layoffs at companies throughout the country. If you’ve been affected by a layoff or are simply considering a job change, you may be wondering what will happen to the money you’ve saved in your employer-sponsored retirement plan. With several options available to you, how do you know which is the right one?
When you leave an employer, you have several options:
Leave your money in the existing
account. If your balance exceeds $5,000, plan providers are
required to allow you to keep your money in your 401(k) account even after
you’ve left the company. This is a simple option, because it requires
no action on your part and avoids the penalties associated with taking a
cash payout. Leaving your funds in a 401(k) plan may also offer benefits
such as low fees and discounts on investment-related expenses due to the
large size of the
First of all, you won’t be able to contribute any additional dollars to your old plan. And, by leaving your money in your previous employer’s 401(k), you limit your investment options to those available through the plan and must rely on your former employer to manage your 401(k) account. The company you’ve left may make changes to their plan that could adversely affect your account, and if your old company suddenly goes bankrupt or merges with a competitor, things could get even more complicated. Some plans even assess an annual fee to terminated participants. Finally, leaving your money in your previous employer’s plan makes it easy to forget about it, especially if you decide to participate in your next employer’s 401(k) plan. You would also be responsible for furnishing address changes or beneficiaries to each plan as they occur. It’s not uncommon for frequent job changers to have money in several different 401(k) plans, and in many cases those funds are invested in vehicles that may conflict with each other or contradict your overall investment plan. By having all of your retirement investments in one place, it is easier to ensure that each investment is part of a properly balanced portfolio.
Rollover your 401k money into an IRA. For many investors, a rollover into an IRA is the best option, as it offers significantly more flexibility. First of all, by rolling retirement dollars into an IRA, investors can choose from a much wider variety of funds than simply the limited number of options available through a 401(k) plan.
The rollover may be combined with other
retirement dollars as well. For example, if you have worked at multiple
jobs and have several 401(k) accounts, you can use a rollover to
consolidate them into a single IRA account. And once you’ve
For those investors whose 401(k) holdings are
heavily weighted with shares of employer stock, an IRA rollover provides
an excellent opportunity for diversification. If your plan remains in
shares of employer stock, you could potentially save a significant amount
in taxes by making a Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) election. With
this election, shares are distributed from the plan “in kind” and just the
basis of the stock will be taxed as ordinary income at the time of
distribution. The appreciation will not be taxed until you
And of course, an IRA rollover shields you from the taxes and penalties associated with a direct payout. With a rollover IRA, you don’t pay taxes until you begin withdrawing money.
Once you’ve completed the IRA rollover, it’s important to familiarize yourself with its characteristics, which are the same as those of a traditional IRA. With a traditional IRA, there is no earned income ceiling for eligibility to contribute. Your contributions may be tax-deductible depending on active participant status in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, so if you decide to contribute to your new employer’s plan after performing the rollover, it may affect your ability to deduct any future IRA contributions. Contributions are not allowed after the IRA holder reaches age 70 ½ , and required minimum distributions must begin at age 70 ½ . Distributions are generally taxable to the IRA holder or beneficiaries at ordinary income rates.
If you qualify, you may find that a Roth IRA is better for your personal situation. A Roth IRA is a unique investment opportunity due to its tax-free advantages. With the Roth IRA, contributions to the plan are not deductible, but distributions can be withdrawn tax-free under certain conditions. Ordinary income tax is due on the amount converted in the year of conversion. For some, paying the tax up-front can offer significant tax savings later.
Avoiding Penalties in a 401k Rollover
Avoiding Penalties in a 401k Rollover
The key to avoiding the 20 percent withholding
penalty is arranging for a direct rollover. This is also known as a
“trustee-to-trustee” transfer. This means that the distribution check from
your previous employer’s retirement plan must be made payable to the
custodian of the IRA account or the new employer’s retirement plan in
which you wish to transfer the funds for the rollover. If performing an
IRA rollover, your Financial Advisor can provide you with specific
instructions for the check.
The next step is to contact your former employer’s retirement plan administrator to provide notice that you will be making a direct rollover and give instructions on how the distribution check should be made out and to whom it should be sent. If you receive a check made payable to you, as opposed to the custodian of the IRA or your new employer’s retirement plan, you will have 60 days to deposit it in your rollover IRA or new employer’s 401(k) plan.
The Next Step
If you’re in the process of changing jobs or
A valuable benefit to a Stifel IRA rollover is having the opportunity to work with a full-service investment firm. By getting to know you, your current financial situation, and future goals, an investment professional can offer a wide range of other investment products and services, such as financial planning, wealth preservation strategies, insurance, or funding a college savings plan for a loved one.
What is a 401k Rollover? Find answers now. For more Information order a 401k Rollover Kit today!
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