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To Rollover or Not Rollover, That is The Question

To Rollover or Not Rollover That Is The Question

 

There are many decisions that need to be made when changing employers or retiring. One of the key decisions that you may need to make is whether or not to rollover your retirement plan, 401(k), from the previous employer. As mentioned in Top Five Things to Review Before Changing Jobs, you have several options when separating from service and it is important to do a careful review upon your departure.

Depending on your account balance you may not have any choice and may be required to take a distribution. It is important that you read your company’s summary plan description to see if there is a minimum level, such as $5000, where they force you to take a distribution. It is common for companies to impose this minimum so they are not burdened with maintaining what is needed for many smaller accounts for employees that are no longer with the company. When faced with this distribution, you will have the option to roll over the assets to your own IRA, your new employer’s 401(k) or simply have a check cut to you. Be aware of the tax consequences of simply taking the check. The options and consequences are very similar to those that are not forced to rollover, so keep reading.

Assuming that you are not going to be forced to take a distribution, you will be presented with several options for your 401(k) assets and we will discuss each of them here:

  • You will be able to maintain your 401(k) account with the current provider at your previous employer. This would not require any changes and your account would continue to be managed as it was previously, by you. The main difference would be that you would no longer have any contributions being deposited into the account.
  • Rolling over your 401(k) to a current (or newly opened) Individual Retirement Account or IRA. This would be a non-taxable event as long as you perform the movement of monies as a direct rollover. This would then allow you to take over management of the assets or hire a wealth management firm or advisor to assist you with investing these funds. You would not be limited to the investment menu presented by your previous company and now would have the ability to invest the funds however you see fit.
  • Another option you may have, depending on the plan provisions for your new employer, would be to roll the assets over into your new employer’s retirement plan. Like rolling it over to your own IRA, this would be a non-taxable event if you handle it as a direct rollover. You would still be in a position to manage these assets on your own and would be limited to whatever investments the new employer offers in their plan.
  • The last option you would have is taking a distribution. This would be a taxable event and depending on the size of the 401(k) could cost you a considerable amount in taxes. A distribution or withdrawal would be taxable as ordinary income in the year you take the distribution. When taking this type of withdrawal there is a 20% mandatory federal tax withholding by the plan. This is used to offset your tax liability for the year. Essentially, if your 401(k) at the time of distribution is worth $100,000 you would only receive a check in the amount of $80,000. The $20,000 would be sent in as a Federal tax withholding to offset your liability for the year. Keep in mind, this does not mean that this is all the tax you owe. Depending on your tax bracket for that given year, you may owe more or you may end up getting a refund because you withheld too much over the course of the year. Before exercising this option it is very important to consult with your tax advisor to make certain there are not any unintended consequences down the road.

The choices here are not easy ones to make and should be considered very carefully. It is important to speak with a fiduciary advisor that can outline and walk you through the pros and cons of each option. As an example, one of the tremendous benefits of rolling the assets into your own IRA would be the freedom and flexibility of the investments you can choose. In addition, it would provide you with the ability to have an advisor assist you with the investments as well. These two benefits may come with a cost and it is important to understand what the cost/benefit is of making this transition. You want to make sure that you are making a change for the right reasons and the decision will ultimately benefit you and your family in the end.

This decision making process is something we have walked many clients through before and we are confident we can help you as well. Please feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know has changed jobs recently, plans to change jobs, retire or simply has a 401(k) plan with a previous employer. We look forward to helping you, and them, make the decision that is best for all.

 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Top Five Things to Review Before Changing Jobs

Top Five Things to Review Before Changing Jobs

 

The days of working for a company for 40 plus years, being handed a gold watch for your tenure, and collecting a pension for the remainder of your life is long gone. It is more likely that today’s workers will hold ten to fifteen jobs, spending less than five years at each employer according to a recent report from theBureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to the stress and anxiety associated with finding a new job, there are important financial aspects that should be reviewed with each change. 

  • Do you have a financial plan in place? It would make sense that you should have a financial plan in place, especially if you are looking to make a job change. Using the plan, you could easily determine how the employment change will ultimately affect your financial situation-whether positive or negative. Although you may not be changing jobs for financial reasons, it would be a good idea to know going in what the effects will be. 
  • How are you protecting yourself, and your family, from death or disability? You need to evaluate how you are covered for life and disability insurance. Often times we see younger employees, even older ones, only having group coverage through their employer. Many times this coverage is not portable and cannot come with you when you separate from service. It is a good idea to research if your new employer has these coverages available for you. Whether they make it available or not, it may make sense for you to explore obtaining your own individual coverage that is yours to have regardless of your employer. This is especially worthwhile if you plan on having the number of employers mentioned in the report above. 
  • What are you going to do with your retirement monies at your previous employer? It would not make too much sense to have ten to fifteen different retirement accounts when you finally look to retire. You may create a job just to keep track of where all your assets are, how they are invested and how they are performing. Upon leaving an employer, you usually have the ability to maintain the account where it is, unless you do not satisfy certain minimums and they force you to move it or roll it over. Typically you would want to roll these assets over and that can be done by rolling them into your new employer’s retirement plan, if the plan provisions allow, or into your own IRA. There are several things to consider when trying to determine which method to use when rolling over your assets. We will review this particular topic in a future post, as this is a topic of its own. 
  • Are you contributing to your 401(k) and changing jobs mid-year? It is important to note that there is a maximum, for 2019 it is $19,000 for those under 50 years of age and $25,000 for those over, that you can contribute to your 401(k) on an annual basis. You will want to make sure that you do not violate these thresholds if you contribute to both the old and new employers’ retirement plan. This amount is not a maximum per employer, but actually a maximum on the amount you can defer annually from your earnings. Putting too much in over the course of the year will give you extra work to unwind what was done and remove the excess amount. 
  • Are you in the process of looking for a new home and would need a mortgage to purchase it? Looking for a new home is a great experience and also a stressful one. Buying a new home ranks up there with looking for a new job, so you may not want to try doing both of these at the same time. In addition to saving yourself stress, you may not want to do both of these at the same time due to your need of a mortgage. It will be important that the mortgage company see stability in your work history and they certainly will want to make sure you are with your employer for a specific period of time. The time period they are looking for will be dependent upon the type of loan you would be looking to secure. It would be wise to consult with a mortgage consultant prior to making any job changes while in the home buying process. You certainly will want to make sure you are with your employer when you are about to close because the mortgage company will call them around the closing to verify you are still employed. You will not want to risk your home purchase over a job change, so it is important that you research this in advance. 

Changing jobs brings a certain level of stress with it and there are certainly ways to mitigate it. Ideally you would want to have a financial plan in place, in advance of any change, and this will put you ahead of your fellow job changers. The advisor who helped you develop the plan will be in the unique position to walk you through these top five things you should review, as well as others not mentioned here. Having the right advisor on your side, that is a good fit, will alleviate much stress and make the transition go much smoother.

We have helped many clients through this process and would welcome the opportunity to help you or someone you know. Please feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know has plans of changing jobs in the foreseeable future or they simply want to put a plan in place. We look forward to helping you, and them, make this a smooth transition.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.