Q.What can I do with my 401(k) if I change jobs?
A.If you have money vested in a 401(k) and you change jobs, you have various options. You can: (1) leave the money in place, (2) transfer the money to your new employer’s plan, (3) take a distribution (if over age 59), or (4) transfer the money to your own IRA account. We strongly recommend the number 2 or 4 in the vast majority of cases.
Leave the vested amount in place with your Former Employer’s Plan.
Many individuals opt to leave their money in place with their former employers. If you are content with your returns, and if the company is stable and the plan does not consist largely of the employer's stock, you may opt to leave the money in place. Many 401(k) plans also permit an individual to borrow money from the plan. Leaving the money in the plan, rather than rolling it into your own IRA account, may afford you this additional benefit should the need arise. Please note, however, that borrowing against the funds in a 401(k) should only be done as a last resort.
Transfer the vested amount to your New Employer’s Plan.
This is an advantageous move if the investment choices offered by your new employer’s plan are better than those offered by your prior employer. To effectuate the transfer, you can either: (1) take a distribution from the old plan and roll it over into the new plan within 60 days or,(2) make a direct transfer from the old plan’s trustee to the new plan’s trustee.
Transfer the vested amount to your own IRA Account.
If you choose a self-directed IRA account, it will offer greater diversity and control over your investments than were offered by your 401(k). A self-directed IRA allows the owner to use the money to purchase stock, bonds, mutual funds, and even real estate. You can manage the money yourself or pay a professional.
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