Rolling Over or Transferring a 401(k) to Another 401(k)

When an worker leaves a job because of retirement or termination, the query about whether or not to roll over a 401(okay) or different employer-sponsored plan shortly follows. A 401(okay) plan will be left with the unique plan sponsor, rolled over into a conventional or Roth IRA, distributed as a lump-sum money cost, or transferred to the brand new employer’s 401(okay) plan.

Every choice for an previous 401(okay) has benefits and downsides, and there may be not a single choice that works greatest for all staff. Nevertheless, if an worker is contemplating the choice of transferring an previous 401(okay) plan into a brand new employer’s 401(okay), sure steps are mandatory.

Key Takeaways

  • Think about rolling over your employer-sponsored retirement plan when you depart one employer to go to a different.
  • A brand new employer’s plan might not settle for rollovers from one other 401(okay) in some circumstances, which suggests it is best to ask the brand new firm about this.
  • The largest benefit of doing a rollover is the simplicity of administration afforded by conserving all of the funds in a single place.
  • The largest drawback in doing a rollover is that funding choices are restricted by how the plan is run; there may be little say in selecting the asset allocation.
  • It’s possible you’ll depart your employer-sponsored retirement account as is together with your earlier employer when you select to take action.
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Rolling Over to a New 401(okay)

Step one in transferring an previous 401(okay) to a brand new employer’s certified retirement plan is to talk with the brand new plan sponsor, custodian, or human assets supervisor who assists staff with enrolling within the 401(okay) plan. As a result of not each employer-sponsored plan accepts transfers from an outdoor 401(okay), it’s crucial for a brand new worker to ask if the choice is out there from the brand new employer. If the plan doesn’t settle for 401(okay) transfers, the worker wants to pick out one of many three different choices for the 401(okay) account steadiness.

If the brand new employer plan accepts 401(okay) transfers from different corporations, there may be typically a considerable quantity of paperwork that should be accomplished by the worker. The paperwork is supplied by the brand new plan sponsor or human assets contact and requires the identify, date of beginning, handle, Social Safety quantity, and different worker figuring out data.

As well as, the 401(okay) switch kind should present particulars of the previous employer plan, together with complete quantity to be transferred, funding alternatives held within the account, date contributions began and stopped, and contribution kind, comparable to pre-tax or Roth. A brand new plan sponsor may require an worker to ascertain new funding directions for the account being transferred on the shape. As soon as the switch kind is full, it may be returned to the plan sponsor for processing.

Rolling over from one 401(okay) to a different doesn’t incur any charges, nor does it set off early withdrawal penalties.

After the brand new and previous plan sponsors each approve the switch, the previous plan sponsor distributes the steadiness of the 401(okay) account to the brand new plan sponsor within the type of a verify. After the verify is acquired, the brand new plan sponsor deposits the verify, and investments are bought in keeping with the worker’s new plan alternatives.

A switch from one 401(okay) to a different is a tax-free transaction, and no early withdrawal penalties are assessed.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Transferring


The largest benefit of transferring an previous 401(okay) right into a plan with a brand new employer is the benefit of administration. As an alternative of monitoring funding alternatives, efficiency, or statements for a number of accounts, a switch creates a single account that may be simply monitored.

As well as, 401(okay) plans sometimes carry decrease charges on investments and transactions than rollover IRAs managed by skilled advisors.

Older staff have an extra benefit: Cash held within the 401(okay) of the corporate the place an worker is at present working will not be topic to required minimal distributions (RMDs). Account holders who flip 73 on or after Jan. 1, 2023, should take RMDs in the event that they left the cash of their earlier employer’s plan, in keeping with the SECURE ACT 2.0. Anybody on this scenario who turned 72 between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2022, could be required to take these withdrawals.


Transferring a 401(okay) might not be your best option for each worker, as quite a few disadvantages exist. Employer-sponsored plans are restricted to a sure variety of funding choices. These restrictions might not permit plan members to take a position the best way they need and will result in poor asset allocation or a scarcity of diversification over time.

Moreover, staff who take part in a 401(okay) should not have a say within the firm or the person who manages the plan. The plan sponsor and firm executives have complete management over how the plan is established and maintained.

The method of transferring a 401(okay) to a brand new plan additionally will be time-consuming, as the brand new plan sponsor is tasked with vetting the previous plan’s certified standing, rent and termination dates, and complete steadiness eligible for the switch.


  • A single account makes it simple to handle

  • Charges are decrease in comparison with rollover IRAs

  • Required minimal distributions aren’t required when you switch your account to the brand new employer


  • Restricted funding choices

  • No management over how the account is ready up or managed

  • Transferring could also be time-consuming

The Backside Line

The switch of an previous 401(okay) plan to a brand new plan is a superb selection for some staff. Nevertheless, the advantages have to be weighed towards the disadvantages earlier than beginning the method.