401(k) Rollovers Aren’t Always the Best Deal

Laid off employees are equally split between leaving a 401(k) with an old employer and rolling it over to an IRA

By + More

If you are laid off, you have to decide what to do with your old 401(k). But there’s no simple solution that works for everyone. Financial services company Charles Schwab released data this week showing that, among 9,790 terminated participants in Schwab 401(k) plans between January 2008 and March 2009, 43 percent left their assets with their old employer and an equal percentage (43 percent) rolled over their 401(k) into an IRA. The rest cashed out their 401(k) (8 percent), moved their nest egg into a new employer’s plan (4 percent), or took some other form of distribution (2 percent). But there’s a good reason employee behaviors are so fractured.

While it’s a great idea to try to minimize taxes by keeping your retirement stash in a tax deferred account, rolling over your 401(k) is not a simple decision. Account holders should compare fees changed and investment options offered through both the 401(k) and IRA before making any moves. Your age should also be considered. While IRA holders can begin taking penalty free withdrawals at age 59 1/2 , laid off 401(k) account owners can make withdrawals at age 55 without facing a 10 percent penalty. Check out these 7 tips before rolling your 401(k) into an IRA.