Watch Out For Money: Remember Your 401 (k) When You Change Jobs | F. Marc Ruiz: Your opinion on money
It was easy to do. Life is busy, and pork surely wasn’t your typical holiday cargo. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook important but less obvious issues. Like a 401 (k) when we change jobs. We know the plan is there, it’s just not obvious and easily bypassed on the way out.
According to a recent study in a white paper that I reviewed by a research firm called Capitalize, Americans left behind a whopping $ 1.35 trillion in 24.3 million 401 (k) accounts at d ‘former employers. I’m going to take some risks here and assume that if a 401 (k) has been left behind, it probably doesn’t attract much attention to how it’s invested, and because at the end of the day I can make sure the money will become important again, let’s explore leaving it behind versus other options.
Often times, 401 (k) plan balances can be left out, but sometimes they can’t. In many plans, account balances less than $ 5,000 are often automatically distributed and taxed after a few months. While this isn’t ideal, it isn’t the end of the retirement planning world either, so don’t panic if a surprise check arrives in the mail. In almost all cases, however, these checks are preceded by a confusing warning letter, so if you’ve just quit your job, open the mail.
For companies that allow separate employee balances to stay in the plan, leaving the plan behind can have benefits. Plan expenses can be competitive and there should be some level of familiarity with investment options and service platforms. The key is to ensure that the plan is actively followed, say twice a year, to ensure that investment choices remain appropriate.