Have you ever wondered if there are forgotten treasures waiting for you in the depths of your old 401(k)s and lost accounts? Brace yourself for an astonishing revelation! Countless Americans have inadvertently left behind a staggering $1.65 trillion in unclaimed assets, languishing in abandoned retirement funds.
With the SECURE 2.0 Act and its transformative provisions, the path to tracking down your lost money has never been clearer. Get ready to reclaim what is rightfully yours as we guide you through the five essential steps to unveiling your forgotten money.
1. Take stock of your accounts:
Create a list of every workplace where you contributed to a 401(k) or similar retirement plan. Contact each employer to check if they still have an account in your name. Outdated contact information might have caused them to lose track of you. If you find old plans with funds, consider working with a qualified financial planner to roll them over into your current retirement account.
2. Check for closed companies:
If a company has closed, merged, or changed its 401(k) plan, it can be harder to trace your old account. If you can’t reach the past employer or plan administrator, use the U.S. Department of Labor’s EFAST tool, which provides plan information dating back to 2010. Additionally, unused financial accounts may be considered unclaimed property over time, falling under state control.
Check out these two websites to help you find your forgotten funds:
3. Roll over the money directly:
Once you have located your old retirement plans, consult with your financial planner to roll the funds over into a designated 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA). Ensure the money is transferred directly to the financial institution handling your current retirement account. If it lands in your bank account, it could be considered an early withdrawal, triggering a 20 percent tax withholding by the IRS.
4. Adjust your investment strategy:
Your old accounts may have a mix of investments based on your previous employer’s plan and earlier investment goals. When you find old accounts, review and align them with your current financial goals. This could involve rolling them into your new employer’s 401(k) if permitted or transferring the funds into a new or existing IRA that complements the investment choices available in your new 401(k).
5. Consolidate as you go:
To simplify your finances and maximize your retirement savings, prioritize consolidating your accounts whenever you change jobs. If you neglect this step, you may face the cumbersome task of tracking multiple websites, usernames, and PINs associated with old accounts. Consolidation ensures better oversight and management of your retirement funds.
In addition to retirement funds, there are other types of unclaimed money that you might overlook, such as insurance accounts, unpaid wages, pensions from former employers, FHA insurance refunds, tax refunds, savings bonds, and accounts with failed banks or credit unions. Using their interactive map and Missing Money tool, NAUPA, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, helps you locate lost funds.
Furthermore, specific government agencies like the U.S. Labor Department, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and National Credit Union Administration can assist in locating and claiming various types of unclaimed funds.
By following these steps and utilizing available resources, you can increase your chances of locating and reclaiming lost retirement funds and other unclaimed money.