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Consolidating Retirement Accounts: Does It Make Sense for You?

Did you know that in 2021, an average of more than 3.95 million workers left their jobs each month? The Great Resignation has prompted working Americans to rethink their short- and long-term career goals, resulting in a record number of job departures.

So, what does this historic economic trend have to do with retirement accounts? Job changers often leave their 401(k) accounts behind! Having multiple retirement accounts spread among different custodians and financial services providers can be a big headache. Let’s look at four reasons why consolidating your retirement plan accounts may be the cure.

  1. It’s easier to keep track of one account versus multiple accounts. No matter how many retirement accounts you own from previous employers, managing all your retirement assets in one account saves you time, effort, and frustration. Imagine having just one of everything—one statement, one password, and one account number—instead of several! Consolidation also makes it simple to track your progress toward savings goals and manage your investment options.
  2. You could pay less in fees. Your workplace retirement plan accounts incur various investment, custodial, and administrative charges; the more accounts you own, the more fees you’ll pay. By consolidating accounts, you may be able to reduce charges that could eat away at your balances over time. Also, some fees are charged based on the amount of assets; your combined account balance may meet minimum asset thresholds, thus qualifying for potential fee reductions.
  3. It will make things simpler for your loved ones when you pass. As uncomfortable as it is to think about the prospect of passing away, making it as easy as possible for your loved ones to administer your retirement assets is an important planning consideration. By consolidating your retirement accounts, it may alleviate the need to chase down multiple account statements, call various custodians, and coordinate payments to beneficiaries.
  4. You’ll reduce the risk of missing required minimum distributions (RMDs). Generally, when you turn 72, the IRS requires you to take an RMD each year. Failing to take your RMD on a timely basis results in a hefty penalty: 50 percent of the amount you failed to withdraw! Forgetting to take an RMD could be a costly mistake; having fewer accounts makes it easier to keep track.

In most cases, account consolidation can be accomplished by rolling your old retirement account into your new employer’s retirement plan or an IRA. By doing so, you’ll preserve the account’s tax-favored status and steer clear of early withdrawal penalties. To initiate the rollover process, contact your employer’s Human Resources or Benefits department, or us, to find out how to roll old 401(k) accounts into your new account or, alternatively, contact your former employer’s custodian to learn its requirements for rolling those assets into your new employer’s retirement plan.

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