Lindell G. Douglas, CFP®
Managing Partner

(954) 306-8668

Retirement Read Time: 3 min

Find That Lost Retirement Account

Find That Lost Retirement Account

Do you have a long-lost retirement account left with a former employer? Maybe it’s been so long that you can’t even remember. With over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts holding roughly $1.35 trillion in assets, even the most organized professional may be surprised to learn that they have unclaimed “found” money.1

What Are “Forgotten” Retirement Accounts?

Considering that baby boomers alone have worked an average of 12 jobs in their lifetimes, it can be all too easy for retirement accounts to get lost in the shuffle.2 Think back to your first job. Can you remember what happened to your work-sponsored retirement plan? If you’re even slightly unsure, then it’s time to go looking for your potentially forgotten funds.

Starting Your Search

One of the best ways to find lost retirement accounts is to contact your former employers. If you’re unsure where to direct your call, try the human resources or accounting department. They should be able to check their plan records to see if you’ve ever participated. However, you will most likely be asked to provide your full name, Social Security number, and the dates you worked, so be sure to come prepared.

If your former employer is no longer around, look for an old account statement. Often, these will have the contact information for the plan administrator. If you don’t have an old statement, consider reaching out to former coworkers who may have the information you need.

Even if these first steps don’t turn up much info, they can help you gather important information.

Websites to Check

Next, it’s time to take your search online. Make sure you have as much information as possible at hand and give the following resources a try.

National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits

This database uses employer and Department of Labor data to determine if you have any unpaid or lost retirement account money. Like most of these online tools, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number, but no additional information is required.3

FreeERISA

If your forgotten account was worth more than $1,000 but less than $5,000, it might have been rolled into a default traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Employers create default IRAs when a former employee can’t be located or fails to respond when contacted. You can search for retirement and IRA accounts for free using this database, but registration is required.4

Once you reach age 73, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a traditional IRA in most circumstances. Withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10 percent federal income tax penalty.

The U.S. Department of Labor

Finally, the Department of Labor tracks plans that have been abandoned or are in the process of being terminated. Try searching its database to find the qualified termination administrator (QTA) responsible for directing the shutdown of the plan.5

What’s Next?

Once you’ve found your retirement account, what you do with it depends on the type of plan and where it’s held. Your location also matters. Depending on where you live, the rules and regulations may differ.

No matter what you decide to do, be sure to involve your tax and financial professionals since they’ll be informed on current regulations for your state. They can also help you identify a strategy for your newfound money: travel, investment, or maybe that vacation home you’ve always wanted. You worked hard for that money, after all, so you should get to enjoy it!

1. Kiplinger.com, August 27, 2021
2. USNews.com, October 22, 2021
3. UnclaimedRetirementBenefits.com, 2022
4. FreeERISA.BenefitsPro.com, 2022
5. DOL.gov, 2022

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Share |
 

Related Content

Infographic: Life Insurance: The Basics

Infographic: Life Insurance: The Basics

A reassurance that you can live life to its fullest, knowing your family will be financially protected when you pass away.

The Mattress Dilemma: Where to Stash Your Savings?

The Mattress Dilemma: Where to Stash Your Savings?

Americans are saving more these days.1 Especially millennials. We know why to save: For emergencies, for retirement, to afford big-ticket dreams like home ownership or opening a business. But how to save is another matter.

Four ways to boost company culture while working remotely

Four ways to boost company culture while working remotely

Company culture has long been tied to the physical office environment. Now that organizations all over the world are shifting to remote work, employees and businesses are rethinking the future of workplace culture.

 

Have A Question About This Topic?







Thank you! Oops!

TIPS for Inflation

If you are concerned about inflation and expect short-term interest rates may increase, TIPS could be worth considering.

Financial Hacks for Millennials: Values-Based Investing

Millennials can opt to follow a values-based investing strategy to invest their money in conscientious ways.

Creating your stream of guaranteed retirement income

Your life doesn't stop when your career does. The one thing you don't want to stop, is your paycheck.

View all articles

How Much Home Can I Afford?

With a few simple inputs you can estimate how much of a mortgage you may be able to obtain.

Self-Employed Retirement Plans

Estimate the maximum contribution amount for a Self-Employed 401(k), SIMPLE IRA, or SEP.

Annuity Comparison

This calculator compares a hypothetical fixed annuity with an account where the interest is taxed each year.

View all calculators

An Inside Look at Retirement Living

A number of questions and concerns need to be addressed to help you better prepare for retirement living.

5 Smart Investing Strategies

There are some smart strategies that may help you pursue your investment objectives

Principles of Preserving Wealth

How federal estate taxes work, plus estate management documents and tactics.

View all presentations

It May Be Time for a Financial Checkup

It’s never a bad time to speak with your financial professional about changes in your situation.

Safeguard Your Digital Estate

If you died, what would happen to your email archives, social profiles and online accounts?

What You Need to Know About Social Security

Every so often, you’ll hear about Social Security benefits running out. But is there truth to the fears, or is it all hype?

View all videos