Ignoring your past employer’s 401(k) can be easy but rolling it over to an IRA could be just as easy and more beneficial in the long run. When you leave a company, you have multiple options with your 401(k). You can roll it over into an IRA, keep it with your previous employer’s provider, roll it over to your new employer’s plan or cash it out.
1. Rolling it over into an IRA
There are several benefits of rolling your 401(k) over to an IRA; the first being more investment options. 401(k) plans vary from company to company and unfortunately many have limited investment options usually consisting of high cost mutual funds. Rolling these funds into an IRA often gives you access to a wider variety of investment options consisting of stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds, structured investments and more. This is known as a direct rollover and will not come with any tax consequences allowing your funds to continue growing tax deferred. Also, if you roll over your previous 401(k) to an existing Traditional IRA you are still eligible to make contributions up to the annual limit until age 70 ½.
2. Rolling it into your New employer’s plan
Another option is to roll your old 401(k) into your new employer’s plan if they allow it. This option is also considered a direct roll over and will not have any tax consequences. Every employers plan is different, so you want to investigate the costs and investment selection before you decided on this option.
3. Leave it where is
You could always decide to just leave you 401(k) where it is. However, you will no longer be able to make contributions to this plan and, depending on your vested balance, may be required to withdrawal the funds from the plan.
4. Cash Out
You will have the option to take your funds in the form of a lump sum when you leave your job. While this sounds tempting it is also a costly mistake if you do not roll the entire amount into an IRA within 60 days. You will owe tax on any amount that you do not rollover as well as a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you are under 59 ½.
If you have recently changed jobs and left behind a 401(k) be sure to speak with one of our advisors. We offer complimentary 401(k) reviews and can discuss which course of action may be the best for you and your plan.