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How to Rollover Your 401(k)

If you have 401 (k) plan There are certain times through your employer when you may be able to switch to another account. Overturn 401 (k) usually refers to the transfer of funds to another retirement account. A transfer usually happens when you leave work or retire. “Rollovers can be easy if you prepare for the process in advance and learn what to look out for and how it’s done,” says Jay Jumper, CEO of Future Capital, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

To switch your 401 (k) plan, you will need to:

– Understand your rollover options 401 (k).

– See the costs and features of different accounts.

– Take care to avoid transaction taxes.

– Turn directly to avoid penalties.

– Evaluate your investment choice.

– Think about when you will need access to funds.

Gaining insight into the process and considering your lifestyle and plans can be helpful before moving funds. Read on to learn the steps involved in a 401 (k) rollover.

Consider your 401 (k) download options

If you are leaving your current job and have a 401 (k) plan with the company, you will usually be faced with several account-related choices. You can choose to overturn the 401 (k) plan. In this case, balance in plan 401 (k) will be moved to the new account. This new account can be a 401 (k) plan with your new employer or individual pension account. “While an old 401 (k) can sometimes be transferred to your 401 (k) at a new employer, the most common procedure is to transfer those funds to the IRA,” Jumper says.

Instead of going over 401 (k), you can also check with the organization you are leaving from to see if you can change your account. Sometimes employees can leave funds in an account with a former employer. “Keeping money with an old employer brings more restrictions,” says Pam Krueger, CEO and founder of Wealthramp of Tiburon, California. “You have limited investment opportunities, less control over costs and you have to follow the rules of the plan. Besides, it’s another account to keep up with.”

The second option consists of a lump sum distribution, which refers to the taking out of money. You will usually lose the opportunity for funds to grow over time. If you are paid a check, “you will collect a mandatory 20% withholding tax,” says Paul Sundin, CPA and tax strategist at Emparion in Chandler, Arizona.

[Read: How Much Should You Contribute to a 401(k)?]

Aim for low cost

Before moving funds to another account, such as an IRA, you will need to look at the fees charged by your current 401 (k) plan and any costs associated with the IRA. Compare fees to see if the fees for your new account will be higher or lower than your current 401 (k) plan.

Be careful to avoid taxes

You should be aware of the potential tax implications of transferring funds to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. The choice to switch a traditional 401 (k) to a traditional IRA can be made without paying taxes. Assets placed in a traditional 401 (k) or traditional IRA are pre-tax, meaning money will not be taxed until you make a distribution. “If you transfer Roth to the IRA, you will owe tax on the overturned amount immediately,” says Jumper. With the Roth IRA, you will now pay contribution tax, but future withdrawals are often tax-free.

Avoid Criminal Sanctions for Misdemeanor 401 (k)

If you decide to transfer your 401 (k), the sponsor of your plan can transfer the money directly to your new account, which can be done without penalties or taxes. The plan sponsor can also send you a check directly. When a check is sent to you, it will arrive with a 60-day rule. “You have 60 days to deposit it in a qualified account or it will pay taxes,” says Sundin. You could face it too penalty for early withdrawal if you are not at least 59 1/2 years old.

[See: 9 Ways to Avoid the 401(k) Early Withdrawal Penalty and Other Fees.]

Consider your investment preferences

If your 401 (k) plan offers only a few investment choices, you may find more options available through the IRA. “Choosing to invest in an IRA can come with great benefits above 401 (k), including a more diverse selection of investment funds,” Jumper says. You may decide to invest in different types of investments in the IRA, such as stocks, bonds, exchange traded funds and mutual funds.

Before you decide what to do with your 401 (k) assets, you also want to review how you plan to manage your investment. If you leave 401 (k) with your former employer, you may be self-employed to allocate funds. If you move funds to an IRA, you can ask a financial advisor to help you choose investments that suit your goals and risk tolerance. “This can represent your entire life savings,” Krueger says. “It will be clear to you how to properly allocate and diversify and develop a healthy investment strategy.”

[Read: 401(k) Mistakes Job Hoppers Make.]

Think about how soon you will need the money in your 401 (k)

A look at your retirement plans and the income you will need can help you determine what to do with your 401 (k) plan when leaving work. If you leave your job at the age of 55 or older, you can withdraw 401 (k) payments without penalty from your account at that job. If you switch your 401 (k) balance to a traditional IRA, you will need to keep the amount in your account until you at least 59 1/2 years to avoid a 10% penalty for early withdrawal. The transfer of funds to the Roth IRA has different implications. Although you will be able to withdraw contributions paid into the Roth IRA at any time, you will have to wait at least five years to withdraw earnings from your account without penalty.

Before you perform a 401 (k) rollover, it would be helpful to talk to your family and other counselors or mentors about your future plans. Think about when you will want to retire, what kind of lifestyle you want to lead during retirement and other activities or hobbies that you might be interested in later. “The goal is to use this money to help you stay financially secure during your retirement years,” Krueger says. Setting current assets, saving strategies, and expected allocations with your life goals can guide you in deciding to move a 401 (k).