How to Find, Locate, and Recover an Old 401(k) Account
The vast majority of unclaimed income comes from brokerage, checking and savings accounts, plus annuities, 401(k)s and IRAs inadvertently left behind by people who switch jobs or financial institutions leaving valuable assets behind.
The good news is that it’s relatively painless to locate lost funds. Since companies are required by law to mail send the funds to the owner’s last known address but if they’re returned or the owner can’t be reached, the assets must be relinquished to the state.
Also, online resources allow you to search for old accounts anywhere you might have lived or worked. And if you do find money is owed to you, it’s easy to fill out a simple online form to get it back.
Find and Locate Your Money
Contact your old employer
Contact your old employer directly via their human resources department. They should have records of your current retirement-plan account and the associated assets. With the proper forms, you can roll over your retirement money to a different 401(k) or to an IRA, or to any outside financial institution overseeing your financial plan. By doing the appropriate instructions you get, you’ll be able to move your retirement money where you want.
Refer to an old statement
Old 401(k) statement will typically have the information you need to get in contact with either your employer or a plan administrator. Then, you can inquire about your options for moving money and get the information you need to do so. Hopefully, you’ve kept good records but don’t be shy to track these down online from your banks and investors.
Search for unclaimed retirement benefits
A private company handles the processing of retirement distributions nationwide set up the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. Since employers can have trouble finding former employees to claim their retirement benefits. This service will allow you to perform a free search for any retirement plan balances in your name. In order to appear in the database, your employer must participate in the service.
Look for corporate mergers
In case your former employer is no longer an independent business after being merged with another company, then your old 401(k) plan might have been merged into the new company’s 401(k) plan. Search for news on your former employer so you can learn the new company’s name and find contact information.
Most of the time, employers are good about getting 401(k) plan information to you immediately after you quit your job. In some cases, though, looking for previous 401(k) accounts will give you an unexpected windfall.
Recover Your Accounts
What to do with it
It might be beneficial to leave your old 401(k) money where it is if it’s in your former employer’s plan since you’ll have access to specific mutual funds that charge lower management fees available to institutional clients which aren’t available to individual investors. The downside is you’re not allowed to contribute to the plan anymore since you no longer work there.
Reasons to move your money to an IRA or to roll it into a current employer’s plan include having access to a broader range of investments, like individual stocks, or a wider selection of mutual funds – plus more control over account fees.
If your money was moved into an IRA without your permission, don’t feel obligated to leave it there. A Government Accountability Office study of forced-transfer IRAs found that annual fees (upwards of $115) and low investment returns (only 0.01% to 2.05% conservatively) “can steadily decrease a comparatively small stagnant balance.”
Success Tax Relief Can Help You Find Lost Money
Once you find your money, it’s easy to switch brokers and move your investments into a new IRA of your choosing without triggering any taxes. Contact Success Tax Relief for help with finding any lost money or assets.