When you leave your job, why would you want to leave your retirement savings with your previous employer? A 401(k) rollover allows you to transfer your existing retirement account into another retirement account. Plus, you avoid the government hitting you with extra taxes and withdrawal penalties.
If you are starting a new job, you could do a rollover into your new employer’s 401(k). But this has the same weaknesses as keeping your money in your old 401(k).
401(k) plans have limited investment options. They don’t protect against loss of principal. Also, they have no income protection for your retirement years.
Another popular option involves rolling your 401(k) into a mutual fund IRA (individual retirement account). Mutual fund IRAs offer a wide range of investment choices. However, they still don’t protect you from the risk of loss. Again, they don’t offer income protection for your retirement years.
One of the best options for people approaching retirement is rolling their 401(k) into an annuity. This strategy both protects the principal and ensures that they cannot outlive their money.
In this article, we will cover:
- What is a 401(k) rollover?
- Options for a 401(k) rollover
- Rules for a 401(k) rollover
- Pros and Cons of Rolling Over Your 401(k)
A 401(k) rollover into an Annuity IRA is a smart option as you approach retirement.
Rolling your 401(k) into an annuity allows you to transfer your retirement money from restrictive, risky 401(k) plans into a safe investment, one that offers you far more flexibility in investment options.
Other options offer different levels of control over your retirement savings.
What is a 401(k) Rollover?
A 401(k) rollover allows you to transfer your existing retirement account into another retirement account without suffering tax or withdrawal penalties.
Instead of leaving many 401(k)’s scattered about every time you get a new job, rolling over a 401(k) consolidates everything. It’s easier to track.
Options for a 401(k) Rollover
You have options for an old 401(k). However, nobody tells you about them when you leave a job. You can even retrieve ancient, tiny 401(k)’s from decades ago if you remember what institution houses them.
The best option for you depends on a combination of your risk tolerance and how close you are to retirement. Someone in their 40s might have a greater advantage with rolling their 401(k) into an IRA. Whereas another person a few years out from retirement could benefit more from rolling their 401(k) into an annuity. That way they avoid potential market crashes in the sensitive years right before retirement.
401(k) Rollover to IRA
A 401(k) rollover to an IRA is one of the most common strategies now that it’s normal to change employers every 3 to 5 years. It doesn’t make any sense to have that many accounts scattered who knows where.
You can roll your 401(k) directly into your IRA. The keyword is “direct” because if you take the money out at any time, it’s subject to the penalty fees.
The institution holding your IRA should have an easy form to make this happen. All that you need to do is fill out the form and send it in.
401(k) Rollover to Roth IRA
This one poses a bigger challenge than a regular IRA, but only in one additional step.
First, you direct transfer your 401(k) to an IRA. Next, you have the institution perform a Roth conversion.
This triggers a tax burden on your end. You will owe taxes on the amount converted at your tax rate for the year in which you perform the conversion.
401(k) Rollover to New Employer
Management companies often offer to roll your old 401(k) into your new employer’s 401(k).
It’s a simple process, and they’ll happily walk you through it.
It doesn’t change any of the distinctions because the account remains a 401(k) through the direct rollover.
However, it has the potential to change your investment options as well as the fees. A new management company may charge different account management fees and offer unfamiliar investment options.
It would be smart to familiarize yourself with the new plan before deciding on a rollover option.
401(k) Rollover to Annuity IRA
A 401(k) rollover into an annuity IRA is a smart option as you’re getting close to retirement.
Rolling your 401(k) into an annuity allows you to transfer your retirement savings from restrictive 401(k) plans into a safe investment.
Annuity IRAs offer more flexibility in investment options than most company 401(k) plans. It gives you continued tax-deferral, protects against principal loss, offers death benefits, and living benefits that can protect not only you but designated beneficiaries as well.
With an annuity, you can set it up to receive guaranteed income for the rest of your life – no matter how long you live. Furthermore, annuities offer an investment product for anyone who wants to ensure they never outlive their money.
Plus, they protect against market volatility and offer decent returns.
Rules for 401(k) Rollover
The crucial distinction to remember is that there are direct and indirect rollovers. Indirect rollovers require you to pay a 20% tax to the IRS. No fun.
Direct rollovers happen when the institution housing your 401(k) directly transfers it to your retirement egg’s new home. You can do other types, but they create more risk from the IRS.
Pros and Cons of a 401(k) Rollover
A 401(k) rollover could be to your advantage. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for everyone.
Both the pros and cons below depend on the specifics of your 401(k) setup. For example, some companies offer access to great financial advisors and give you tons of options for 401(k) investments. Other companies offer the cheapest option available, limiting your options and leaving you to figure out your own investing strategy.
Pros of Rolling Over a 401(k)
In many cases, moving your 401(k) out of an old employer’s program gives you more control. You have more options to invest in a way you choose or how a financial advisor guides you. Don’t like mutual funds? You don’t have to put a penny into one.
You can potentially reduce fees. Companies that handle other businesses’ 401(k)s make money through management fees. That’s the percentage they take out of your account regardless of how it performs. (Although the better it performs, the higher the dollar value that percentage has.) Moving your 401(k) means you have access to lower-fee options and even lower management fees.
You can get better financial planning assistance. Depending on where your 401(k) is housed, you may have access to great financial advisors. You also might benefit from moving your 401(k) to somewhere that a financial planner with fiduciary responsibility (meaning they legally have to make decisions in your best interest) who will help you make the best decisions possible.
Account consolidation makes life easier. Rather than several 401(k) plans scattered about, consolidating everything in a single account makes both planning and control easier. You’ll have fewer accounts to keep track of, and it’ll make distributions simple.
Cons of Rolling Over a 401(k)
There are a few downsides to rolling over your 401(k), particularly if you roll it over into an IRA.
Potentially reduced creditor protection. 401(k) accounts have more creditor protection than IRAs during bankruptcy. The tricky part is that each state has different rules.
A 401(k) offers earlier access to your retirement funds than an IRA. You can access your 401(k) at age 55. For an IRA, you need to wait until 59.5 years old to withdraw without penalty. This can affect early retirement plans.
Rolling a 401(k) into an IRA can trigger taxes on company stock. If your employer gives you stock options and puts some of those into your 401(k), it creates a tax mess if you leave and want to transfer those into an IRA. A fiduciary financial planner can help you sort out your options in this situation.
A rollover into an annuity gives you continued tax-deferral, protects against loss of principal, and offers living and death benefits that can protect not only you but designated beneficiaries as well.
With an annuity, you can set it up to receive guaranteed income for the rest of your life – no matter how long you live. Furthermore, annuities offer a suitable investment product for anyone wanting the security of never outliving their money.
How Abrams Insurance Solutions Can Help
As a financial planner with a fiduciary responsibility to our clients, we believe that Insurance is only one pillar of a stable financial foundation. That’s why we focus on a more holistic approach. One that includes retirement planning and achieving financial goals in your working years.
It’s easy to change jobs and leave an old 401(k) to its own devices. However, it’s almost as easy to roll it into a new retirement account. That way, you can check just one place to see if your retirement strategy is on the right track.
Planning for retirement is something the average American puts off until their 40s, if not indefinitely. Retirement is like planting trees. The best time to start was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.
Give us a call at 858-703-6178 today to see if we can make this even easier for you.