The decision to roll a 401(k) over to an IRA shouldn’t be taken lightly. Eight points to consider:
1. Are you happy with your former employer’s plan? It might make more sense to stay.
2. If you have commingled deductible and non-deducted IRA contributions in your outside IRA accounts, having an active 401(k) plan can help you to “separate” the deductible IRA assets from the non-deducted.
3. If you have an investment in your former employer’s stock in your 401(k), you need to consider the ramifications of utilizing the Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) option – before doing a rollover.
4. If you think you may be returning to this employer, it might make sense to leave your funds where they are.
5. If you’re in the year when you’ll reach age 55 or older, maintaining the 401(k) plan gives you an option to begin taking distributions prior to age 59½ (as early as age 55) without penalty.
6. On the off-chance that you might need a loan from your retirement funds, you should know that IRAs do not have a loan provision.
7. Funds in a 401(k) account are protected by ERISA – and as such are generally not available to creditors.
8. Take your after-tax contributions out first, if your plan happens to include these.