Decide Where To Open Your New Ira
When opening an IRA, most people will look towards a brokerage, and for obvious reasons. 401 accounts are notorious for their relatively limited investment selections. But by rolling your funds into an IRA at a brokerage, youll get to choose from a significantly larger pool of potential investments. In fact, many offer some combination of stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds , mutual funds, options and more.
Managing your own retirement funds takes a lot of time and energy, but a financial advisor can do it for you. Many financial advisors specialize in retirement planning and investing, which is exactly the combination youll need. If you go this route, your advisor will manage your investments in an IRA according to your needs and current savings situation.
If you prefer an even more hands-off approach to investing, a robo-advisor could be a good option. When you open an IRA with a robo-advisor, an asset allocation profile will be created for you based on your age, risk tolerance and proximity to retirement. The robo-advisor will then invest and manage your assets for you according to this plan.
Regardless of which way you go, make sure you understand any account, investment or advisory fees you may incur. An overbearing fee structure can have an extremely negative effect on your portfolio, so keep an eye out for this.
What Are The Choices With A 401 Distribution
When you have a 401 with an employer and you decide to leave the company, you have four basic options:
Cash Out the Plan
If you choose this option, you simply direct the plan trustee to liquidate the account and send you a check.
The account will be closed out, and no further action is necessary.
Advantages: If the balance in the plan is relatively small, like a few thousand dollars, you may decide the money would be better used to pay off debt.
This can make sense if the tax liability on the distribution isnt too high, and the interest youre paying on the debt you intend to pay off is much higher than the investment return in the 401.
Disadvantages: Youll have to pay ordinary income tax on the amount of the distribution, which wont make sense if youre in anything higher than the 12% tax bracket.
But if youre under 59 ½ youll also have to pay the IRS 10% penalty on early distributions.
Keep the 401 with the Previous Employer
This is the simplest choice of all. You decide to do nothing, and leave the account where it is.
Unless the employer has some sort of rule requiring disposition of the account following separation, you can literally leave the money in the plan for the rest of your life.
Advantages: No action is required on your part. If youre satisfied with the investment options in the plan, as well as the plan performance, theres no need to move the money.
Roll the Previous Employer 401 into the New Employers Plan
Do a 401 Rollover to an IRA
Advantages Of A 401 Rollover To An Ira
The main advantage of a 401 rollover to an IRA can be summed up in one word: control.
The control factor with an IRA can be broken down as follows:
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What If You Have An Existing 401 At Your Previous Employer
If you have a 401 at a previous employer, youll want to consider whether a rollover makes sense for you. You may want to consult with a tax professional to make sure that you are making a decision that is best for your unique circumstances.
As youre thinking about what to do with your old 401, here are some options to consider:
Contact Your Current 401 Provider And New Ira Provider
Ideally, you want a direct rollover, in which your old 401 plan administrator transfers your savings directly to your new IRA account. This helps you avoid accidentally incurring taxes or penalties. However, not every custodian will do a direct rollover.
In many cases, youll end up with a check that you need to pass on to your new account provider, Henderson says. Open your new IRA before starting the rollover so you can tell the old provider how to make out the check.
The goal, Henderson says, is to avoid having to ever put the money into your personal bank account.
You only have 60 days to complete the transaction to avoid it being a taxable event, and its best to have everything set up before getting that check, Henderson says.
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If You Inherited A Traditional Ira From Your Spouse
There are two primary types of IRAs you can inherita traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. If you inherit a traditional IRA from your spouse, you have three primary choices:
The Internal Revenue Service has specific rules for each situation. Also, the rules for Roth IRAs are different from traditional IRAs.
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Decide What Kind Of Account You Want
Your first decision is what kind of account youre rolling over your money to, and that decision depends a lot on the options available to you and whether you want to invest yourself.
When youre thinking about a rollover, you have two big options: move it to your current 401 or move it into an IRA. As youre trying to decide, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to invest the money yourself or would you rather have someone do it for you? If you want to do it yourself, an IRA may be a good option. But even if you want someone to do it for you, you may want to check out an IRA at a robo-advisor, which can design a portfolio for your needs. But do-it-for-me investors may also prefer to make a rollover into your current employers 401 plan.
- Does your old 401 have low-cost investment options with potentially attractive returns, and does your current 401 offer similar or better options? If youre thinking about a rollover to your current 401 plan, youll want to ensure its a better fit than your old plan. If its not, then a rollover into an IRA could make a lot of sense, since youll be able to invest in anything that trades in the market. Otherwise, maybe it makes sense to keep your old 401.
- Does your current 401 plan offer access to financial planners to help you invest? If so, it could make sense to roll your old 401 into your new 401. If you move money to an IRA, youll have to manage it completely and pick investments or hire someone to do so.
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How Many 401 Rollovers Per Year
The once-per-year rule does not apply to 401 rollovers, and you can rollover multiple 401s in a year. When you transfer money from one 401 to another 401, the check is made payable to the new 401 and not the name of the account holder. Therefore, this transfer is considered a trustee-to-trustee transfer, and hence, it is excluded from the once-per-year rule. Also, this rule does not apply to 401 rollovers to an IRA or Solo 401 account.
Keep Your 401 With Your Previous Employer
In this instance, you wont change a thing. Just make sure that you actively monitor your investments in the plan for performance and remain aware of any significant changes that occur.
If you really like your current investment options and are paying low fees on the investments, this might be the right choice for you.
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Considering A 401 Rollover Consider Your Options First
If you decide a 401 rollover is right for you, we’re here to help. Call a Rollover Consultant at .
One great thing about a 401 retirement savings plan is that your assets are often portable when you leave a job. But what should you do with them? Rolling over your 401 to an IRA is one way to go, but you should consider your options before making a decision. There are several factors to consider based on your personal circumstances. The information provided here can help you decide.
Tax Consequences Of A 401 Rollover
If you handle it correctly, there are basically no tax consequences that come with a 401 rollover. More specifically, if you complete a direct rollover, your assets seamlessly move from one account to the other without any intervention from the IRS. The rollover doesnt show up on your tax return, nor does the IRS levy any taxes.
Conversely, the 60-day rollover faces a few tax implications. The reason for this is despite the fact that the money will pass through your control only momentarily, the IRS views it as a potential distribution. And because the IRS offers major tax benefits with retirement accounts, its extremely wary of when someone makes a withdrawal, especially a large one.
To cover itself, the IRS orders employers who you take a distribution from to withhold 20%. That can be a massive amount, especially if you have a large 401 balance. Its unfortunately up to you as the account holder to make up that difference before the 60-day period ends, otherwise youll lose the tax-deferred status for that money. Beyond that, if youre making the distribution before age 59.5, the IRS will hit you with a 10% early withdrawal penalty.
In todays day and age, theres virtually no reason a 401 plan provider wouldnt have the technical capabilities to transfer your rollover funds for you. But if the 60-day rollover is unavoidable, simply ask to have the check sent to you in the name of your new accounts custodian.
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How To Do A Rollover
The mechanics of a rollover from a 401 plan are fairly straightforward. Your first step is to contact your companys plan administrator, explain exactly what you want to do, and get the necessary forms to do it.
Then, open the new Roth IRA through a bank, a broker, or an online discount brokerage.
Finally, use the forms supplied by your plan administrator to request a direct rollover, also known as a trustee-to-trustee rollover. Your plan administrator will send the money directly to the IRA that you opened at a bank or brokerage.
Net Unrealized Appreciation And Company Stock In A 401
If you have company stock in a 401, it could save you significant money on taxes to transfer those shares into a taxable brokerage account to take advantage of net unrealized appreciation, or NUA. NUA is the difference between what you paid for company stock in a 401 and its value now.
For example, if you paid $20,000 for company stock and its now worth $100,000, the NUA is $80,000.
The benefit of the NUA approach is that it helps you avoid paying ordinary income tax on these distributions of your own companys stock from your retirement account. That can be up to 37 percent, which is now the highest tax bracket, says Landsberg.
Instead, youll enjoy capital gains tax treatment, which even at the highest tax bracket is only 20 percent, on any appreciation. High earners, however, will be subject to a bonus 3.8 percent net investment income tax. And an NUA may be subject to a 10 percent early withdrawal tax if you move funds prior to age 59 1/2.
Landsberg says NUA makes the most sense when the difference in tax rates is higher.
Net unrealized appreciation is a very powerful tool, if used correctly, Landsberg says. So you can get creative and potentially have a pretty nice windfall if you use the NUA rules correctly.
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Background Of The One
Under the basic rollover rule, you don’t have to include in your gross income any amount distributed to you from an IRA if you deposit the amount into another eligible plan within 60 days ) also see FAQs: Waivers of the 60-Day Rollover Requirement). Internal Revenue Code Section 408 limits taxpayers to one IRA-to-IRA rollover in any 12-month period. Proposed Treasury Regulation Section 1.408-4, published in 1981, and IRS Publication 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements interpreted this limitation as applying on an IRA-by-IRA basis, meaning a rollover from one IRA to another would not affect a rollover involving other IRAs of the same individual. However, the Tax Court held in 2014 that you can’t make a non-taxable rollover from one IRA to another if you have already made a rollover from any of your IRAs in the preceding 1-year period .
Should You Roll Over Your 401 Into Another 401
There are some situations that might make an IRA rollover the wrong move for you. Heres what to consider before completing a 401 rollover.
Retirement account protection. In general, 401 accounts offer better protections from creditors than IRAs.
Rule of 55. With a 401, you can actually start withdrawing funds at age 55 penalty-free if you leave your job. You dont have that advantage when you roll your 401 to an IRA, though you can emulate it by taking subsequently equal periodic payments from your IRA
Performance. If you like your current plan, and its performing well, theres no reason to complete a rollover.
You can always choose to roll your old 401 balance into your new employers 401 plan. If you value the simplicity of having everything in one place, you like the features of the plan at your new job or you want to maintain the legal protections of a 401, it may make more sense to roll your old 401 into a new 401.
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Will Taxes Be Withheld From My Distribution
- IRAs: An IRA distribution paid to you is subject to 10% withholding unless you elect out of withholding or choose to have a different amount withheld. You can avoid withholding taxes if you choose to do a trustee-to-trustee transfer to another IRA.
- Retirement plans: A retirement plan distribution paid to you is subject to mandatory withholding of 20%, even if you intend to roll it over later. Withholding does not apply if you roll over the amount directly to another retirement plan or to an IRA. A distribution sent to you in the form of a check payable to the receiving plan or IRA is not subject to withholding.
Can You Lose All Your Money In An Ira
An IRA is a type of tax-advantaged investment account that may help individuals plan and save for retirement. IRAs permit a wide range of investments, butas with any volatile investmentindividuals might lose money in an IRA, if their investments are dinged by market highs and lows.
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Rollover By A Beneficiary
If you inherit the proceeds from an employer qualified plan or an IRA, the ways you can handle the inheritance depend on the designated beneficiary rules, including whether you are a spouse or non-spouse beneficiary, your age and the ultimate age of the deceased. If you wish to roll over the inheritance into a Roth IRA, youll have to pay taxes on the conversion. However, if you inherit a Roth IRA, you can roll it over tax-free to your own Roth IRA, of if you are a spouse, simply take possession of the deceaseds IRA. Beneficiaries must take required minimum distributions from a Roth IRA , and the period over which you can stretch out these distributions depends on the designated beneficiary rules.
Eric Bank is a senior business, finance and real estate writer, freelancing since 2002. He has written thousands of articles about business, finance, insurance, real estate, investing, annuities, taxes, credit repair, accounting and student loans. Eric writes articles, blogs and SEO-friendly website content for dozens of clients worldwide, including get.com, badcredit.org and valuepenguin.com. Eric holds two Master’s Degrees — in Business Administration and in Finance. His website is ericbank.com.
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